The changes to this iteration of iLife are perhaps the most minor we’ve seen to date, but Apple doesn’t deny that this is an update more than a revolutionary refresh. That Apple’s website invites you to “Upgrade Now” not to “Buy Now,” isn’t just because iLife ’11 is bundled with all new Macs, we feel.
The price reflects the nature of iLife ’11, too. At £45 the whole set of programs costs less than a single rival to each component part might. Obviously iPhoto and iMovie aren’t going to rival Photoshop or Final Cut for users who need those more powerful applications, but for the casual user just grabbing content from their iPhone and chucking it on Facebook or Flikr that’s not necessary.
The mix of component programs remains nearly unchanged, iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand offering ways to improve or just play with photos, movies and music respectively. We did notice that iWeb seems to have been omitted from the iLife family, but we can't see anyone lamenting its departure.
iMovie remains as powerful an editing application as your average iPhone or Flip cinematographer requires. The additions in this iteration look particularly geared towards users of small, portable video cameras – such as those built into your iPhone or iPod touch.
iMovie’s image stabilisation ability is a prime example of this beginner-friendly approach. On importing a video file from an external device, iMovie will ask if you want to apply stabilisation to it (you can also do this later if you chose). This processing did a pretty good job of removing the odd judder from our videos, of the sort induced by holding a small recording device with one hand – intentional shakes remained as present as ever though. Processing takes a couple of minutes on longer videos, or less powerful Macs (say, an 11in Air), but is tolerably fast.
Another option available on importing is to have People in your video files tagged using the same Faces detection as featured in iPhoto. As well as identifying which people are in any given video, this also gives the ability to find shots featuring anyone, specific persons or groups of people, which should prove useful if you’re the type who ends up with holiday videos comprising three hours of scenery to every few minutes of family members doing something.