iPhoto '11 Review

It has felt like a long time coming, but late last week Apple finally released the least biggest surprise of the year in terms of applications, iLife '11. In this review, we are going to be covering just iPhoto '11 with the other application reviews coming later next month.

iPhoto is my main photography application. I don't feel professional enough to use Aperture or other high end programs and iPhoto does just about everything that I want it to do. So what is new this year? In fact, not much, in terms of drastic new features, but pleasingly the additions are good and some performance issues seem to have been improved. Let's get on top of the new features first.

New Full-Screen Modes: Anyone who edits or views photos tends to want to use the full area of their screen and iPhoto '11 makes it very easy. We can finally browse, edit, and share everything in full screen compared to the past version. You can now basically use iPhoto solely in this mode and it makes all the difference. It is just a shame that you can't seem to open it straight into full-screen mode, which would be perfect.

Facebook Integration: This is more of an improvement than a new feature in my view as there were already some reasonable Facebook features included in iPhoto '09, though this years version adds integrated comments, the ability to post photos directly to your wall or to an album and even tag faces in them too. iPhoto '11 also now shows you all of your Facebook photo albums and lets you keep track of them.

Emailing Photos: This is another improvement, as it does now allow you to create and send photos without ever having to leave iPhoto. You can also choose from eight themes and customize them with photos, images, and your own text. You can move the photos around via drag and drop and change styles and sizes. Another good part is that you can now also attach the high-resolution versions of the photos for recipients to download. Finally, it also saves the sent email so you can share it with others too. However, this took me a while to find, as it is hidden under the "Info" part of the photo/photos that you just sent.

The built in book system has also been updated with a new theme browser that you can move around, and it also displays all of the images you have added. Once you pick a theme, the images are automatically placed for you and the main key photo becomes the cover shot. The feature also now uses the rating system in iPhoto to move those higher rated photos to a more suitable position in the book. Also, thanks to the face detection, all of the photos containing people seem to be properly framed compared to the last few versions. I've enjoyed creating one so much that I might actually pay for a book of my own photos to massage my photography ego.

Letterpress cards are personalized with your own photos and text. It helps you make cards for Christmas, baby births, etc. All very easy to create but without paying for one, I can't say how well they work or how good they look, though in fairness, Apple's system has always provided great quality across their photo books so I can see the same happening with the letterpress cards.

The final new feature we have is slideshows, though once again it is more evolution rather than revolution. We have new themes such as places, reflections, and a few others. They also have new soundtracks and if you are doing a slideshow of faces, the detection used makes sure they are perfectly positioned for their best view. It’s a good feature for showing off photos such as weddings or birthdays to friends.

So, what else has changed? Not too much, really. The UI has been improved and is less cluttered than before and in full screen mode it looks great and this seems to be where the main work from Apple has been. One of the main features last year, Faces, has seen some improvements too. An actual button to find new faces is now in the UI and a slightly better looking layout with larger size photos to choose faces from.

I have noted that performance in general is faster than before. I have what I feel is a reasonable amount of photos, around 8000, and running iPhoto had become very slow even when creating new libraries, but iPhoto '11 has managed to improve things to make it far more usable once again.

Overall, as I mentioned earlier, the feature set is more evolution than revolution, with a few new features mingled in with some good improvements and that is how I best describe iPhoto '11. Full Screen mode is great and it is how I have been running iPhoto nearly all the time since I got it. It is just a shame that there isn't an option to run it in that mode when you load it right away.

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17 Comments

I must say that the new iPhoto is wonderful. As you mentioned I was instantly attracted by the new faces features (it made tagging those 200+ new faces quite simple).

I wouldn't worry too much about not being able to open in full screen mode since it will only be a matter of time until somebody figures out how to make it happen and until Macworld publishes it in Mac Hints.

I know lightroom can go fullscreen and you can use popout menus to make adjustments but it still doesn't feel like a full screen app, more like a windowed app in disguise. I hope when LR4 is released, they tailor it for fullscreen use a little better.

dhan said,
aah...so people finally like Maximize on the mac, who would've thunk!

Full-screen mode is different from just maximizing the window. Users have been able to maximize iPhoto for quite some time actually.

giga said,

Full-screen mode is different from just maximizing the window. Users have been able to maximize iPhoto for quite some time actually.

Editing only, not the entire window. Being a Mac user myself I have say he's right. Apple tried jamming the zoom button down our throat, a feature that even in Snow Leopard works poorly. Now suddenly they're introducing full screen windows, which is basically just a glorified maximized window.

Let's not pretend things are different then they are...

What I absolutely adore about Apple is that they're a master at telling everyone how their software is wrong. They introduced Mac OS X Snow Leopard with all its amazing under the hood changes and 64-bit capabilities. Yet more than a year after its release the company releases iLife '11 as a 32-bit package only.

It blows my mind really.

.Neo said,
What I absolutely adore about Apple is that they're a master at telling everyone how their software is wrong. They introduced Mac OS X Snow Leopard with all its amazing under the hood changes and 64-bit capabilities. Yet more than a year after its release the company releases iLife '11 as a 32-bit package only.

It blows my mind really.

Like REM2000 said below, if you need 64-bit performance then Aperture is what you need. I don't think anyone doing any serious editing is using iPhoto. And the general consumer won't miss 64-bit performance in a basic app.

.Neo said,
What I absolutely adore about Apple is that they're a master at telling everyone how their software is wrong. They introduced Mac OS X Snow Leopard with all its amazing under the hood changes and 64-bit capabilities. Yet more than a year after its release the company releases iLife '11 as a 32-bit package only.

It blows my mind really.


PC user here, but I follow the news pretty closely and I don't remember Apple telling any 32-bit app developers they were wrong...but I do agree with you that it seems slightly lazy. I'm not an app developer, but I can't imagine it'd be that difficult (with their resources) to make the move to 64 on these apps. http://www.apple.com/macosx/technology/ <"Built-in applications are now 64-bit."

McG said,

PC user here, but I follow the news pretty closely and I don't remember Apple telling any 32-bit app developers they were wrong...but I do agree with you that it seems slightly lazy. I'm not an app developer, but I can't imagine it'd be that difficult (with their resources) to make the move to 64 on these apps.

I didn't mean that Apple told any 32-bit application developers they were wrong, specifically. I'm just saying that Apple is very good at pointing out other companies mistakes while they're not any better.

Steve Jobs hold a whole speech during the Leopard and Snow Leopard betas about how amazing 64-bit capable applications are. So I'm pretty amazed by the fact their flagship application suite is still 32-bit.

McG said,
http://www.apple.com/macosx/technology/ <"Built-in applications are now 64-bit."

iLife isn't part of Mac OS X. It's a separate application suite. Just like Microsoft Office isn't part of Windows.

.Neo said,

iLife isn't part of Mac OS X. It's a separate application suite. Just like Microsoft Office isn't part of Windows.

Well, sort of. Realize, though, that iLife '11 comes with every new Mac you buy, so it arguably is closer to "built-in" than not.

McG said,

Well, sort of. Realize, though, that iLife '11 comes with every new Mac you buy, so it arguably is closer to "built-in" than not.

And most Windows PCs you buy come with at least a trial version of Office, and many if not most used to come with Works, but I doubt anyone who knew anything about computers would call either one a part of Windows.

Although they highlighted 64bit for pro apps not for lifestyle and smaller apps, memory usage in iphotodoes move past 2gb so there's not much point to go 64bit just like iTunes. Apreture is a better bet if you wanna go pro with 64bit image editing which is an apple app.

Still, we are talking about multi-media application, be it iPhoto or iMovie. Those could use the juice of going to 64bits.

Even Microsoft is going to 64bits with Office.... It's not a question of "need" it's a question of evolution. We are going 64bits the same way we moved from 16bits to 32bits.

I totally agree. Not only should it be 64bit but it should fully support "Grand Central" and the use of supported GPU's to speed anything it can.

If iLive cant be coded to take advantage of all of the SL features mention above, why should 3rd party developers go out of their way to use them.

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