Some of my friends were hoping that we’d walk away from the Macworld keynote with iLife ‘04 boxes in our hands, but alas, not this year. So I ordered my copy last night from the Apple Store to have it as soon as it’s released.
Yes, I’m looking forward to playing with GarageBand. It will be handy for pulling together soundtracks to accompany my movies and slideshows. But the app I was most anticipating was the reworking of iPhoto. After spending some time with iPhoto 4 at Macworld (what happened to V3 anyway?), I concluded that iPhoto 4 is almost competent, but not thrilling.
I was hoping that the Apple engineering team would stop treating us like photo neophytes and give us an application that we could bend to imaging needs. They did improve iPhoto’s robustness, and apparently did so well. The sample photos in the test applications at Macworld were 2 to 4 megapixels, and they were lots of them in there. I’m confident that most amateur photographers will be happier with its performance. That’s worth the upgrade alone.
Some of the other new features are very good too, such as being able to rank photos during the slideshow, Smart Albums, and Rendezvous network sharing. I like all of these and will cover them in detail in upcoming articles for Mac DevCenter.
But I also think iPhoto 4 comes up short in a few areas. Batch Processing could have been so cool, but it’s weak. Yes, you can rename a new upload of images and even have a sequential number added. So you can end up with “Vacation -1,” “Vacation -2,” and so on. But that’s not what photographers want.
The original image number, such as “IMG_4571.jpg” is critical for tracking our pictures throughout our various back up and archiving solutions. What would have been cool is to use Batch Processing to replace the “IMG” with our own label thereby retaining the critical file number. So “Vacation_4751.jpg” would be possible. I can’t use Batch Processing in iPhoto because it wipes out my original image numbers. Seems so basic to me. Maybe someone will figure out a hack to solve this problem.
Another missed opportunity was providing us with real transitions for our slideshows, as well as other slideshow options such as setting the length of time each image (individually) displays before sequencing to the next. I wouldn’t be caught dead using most of the new transitions, except in special cases. And they’re aren’t enough of them to choose from.
Archiving and back up need some improvement too, as well as built-in tools for managing multiple libraries. Yes the performance is better, but you still can’t have a library grow beyond what you’re able to archive to DVD. So you need to be able to easily manage multiple libraries. No dice in iPhoto 4. These are real world issues for photographers.
Overall, I feel the iLife suite is a terrific bargain. I have no problem coughing up $49 for it. But I’m disappointed that iPhoto hasn’t evolved more, especially for a version 4. GarageBand, for example, seems more on target for its audience, and it’s only version one.
I can tell you that the amateur photographers who are using Mac OS X are smarter than Apple realizes. I know this from my classes and from the correspondence I receive. It’s time to bring iPhoto up to the level of its customers.