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Apple Updates iLife & iWork

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The launch of the iPhone nano, upgrades to the Mac Minis and iMac ranges and the death of Steve Jobs. Every single one of these things spectacularly did not occur at Philip Schiller's MacWorld 2009 Keynote today. However, there were still a few interesting announcements. So here's the low down.

Up first, Apple has updated iLife and iWork for 2009, giving us iLife 09 and iWork 09 respectively - as if you couldn't guess. Additionally, Apple is launching iWork.com into Beta, on which more in a second.

iLife 09, then, builds on the previous versions of Apple's application suite. First up, iPhoto sees a couple of funky new ways to organise pictures, adding to the "Events" functionality already present in iPhoto - which apparently Apple has seen good customer feedback on. Faces, as the name hints, uses face detection to enable photos to be organised based on the person in the photo. It uses what Schiller reckons is "the best tech we've found for face detection" and, apparently, is extremely easy and intuitive to use, although of course some manual work is required to approve the software's guesses.

Next in iPhoto is Places, again pretty self explanatory. Grabbing the latitude and longitude data from geotagged photos as taken by cameras with GPS add-ons or like, surprise, surprise, an iPhone Places allows sorting by location. Non-geotagged photos can be manually tagged and Places has a database of "thousands of locations." Data is pulled from Google maps, and there's also Facebook and Flicker (which usefully also supports geotagging) integration to boot. There are customised slideshows based on this new data too, with face detection used to line up slides.

iMovie gets the update treatment, too, with the addition of image stabilisation probably the most notable. Some improvements to clip management, such as drag and drop placement, should make video editing for the non-pros a simpler affair with themes providing for simple creating of some pretty funky looking effects. Video effects, say cartoon, x-ray and aged film, can be previewed in real time as added, which is pretty cool, too. And apparently that's just an overview of the improvements!

Still on the iLife front is GarageBand 09 and, sticking with the "self-explanatory feature names" theme, Learn to Play which features a set of lessons teaching the basics of playing the guitar and piano (or keyboard of course). Think of it as a kind of inverse Guitar Hero if you will, where the object is not to be pretending to be a rock star but, rather, learning the pre-requisites to becoming one.

As a bonus there is a selection of celebrity-featuring videos, including, Norah Jones, John Fogerty, Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump and Sting. After all who better to teach how to play a song than the artist that performs it? Nine lessons are bundled by default, with further lessons being purchasable items. These lessons are priced at $4.99 each, so probably £4.99 here alas. Just think of all the money you'll make back once you make it big, though!

The whole package is £69 which seems pretty reasonable. Just bear in mind OS X 10.5 (Leopard) is a requirement now, which explains the introduction of the Mac Box Set, comprising OS X, iLife 09 and iWork 09.

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