Apple iLife 11 review

Full review: The latest versions of iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band

Image 1 of 4 Apple iLife 11 book building
Apple iLife 11 book building
Image 2 of 4 Apple iLife Trio of screens
Apple iLife Trio of screens
Image 3 of 4 Apple iLife photo printing services
Apple iLife photo printing services
Image 4 of 4 Apple iLife 11 box
Apple iLife 11 box

Apple's computing lifestyle suite gets an update, but older Macs are left behind

The 2011 update of Apple’s iLife digital lifestyle suite gives us new versions of three of its five applications. Photo organiser and editor iPhoto, easy-to-use video editor iMovie and music creation program GarageBand get some great new features, but video burner iDVD and website builder iWeb are unchanged.

The new suite is bundled with all current Macs, and available as a stand-alone product for those who wish to upgrade from an older version. Unfortunately, it needs the latest version of Apple’s operating system, Snow Leopard, which in turn demands Intel processors.

This means there’s no way for those with older Macs based on PowerPC CPUs to upgrade. It’s a pity, but as the last PowerPC Macs were discontinued in 2006, perhaps it’s time to let go. If you bought a Mac after 20th October 2010 that doesn’t have iLife ’11 preinstalled, you might be able to upgrade for £6.95

iPhoto has had a very useful makeover. It’s not a radical revision, but there’s some interesting new features and enhancements for older ones. For example, you’ve long been able to design and purchase printed materials using your photos, ordering online and having them delivered to your door. The new release simplifies the design process, and adds new letterpress cards, personalised with your own photos and text. Just the thing for beautiful custom-designed Christmas cards.

Sharing features are beefed up too, with improved Facebook integration and emailing your photos directly from iPhoto, with the images automatically optimised so they’re the right size for email. New full-screen modes let you enjoy your snaps without distraction, and there are six new slideshow themes.

Apple iLife 11: iMovie and Garage Band

It’s much the same story with iMovie. iLife ’11 doesn’t turn the popular video editing application on its head, but it continues to add advanced tools and features without intimidating the beginner. Most notable is the reintroduction of audio editing, which was removed when the application was rebuilt and simplified with the ’08 update.

20 audio filters can alter a soundtrack’s pitch and character too. Another new feature lets you create professional-looking trailers to go with your movies, using preset templates and user-defined text. You can even add a studio logo. Other new features include one-step effects, Sports and News themes and sharing your movie online and on iOS devices.

iLife’s music tutoring and recording studio GarageBand is back with new effects, lessons and tools. To help with your timing, Groove Matching and Flex Time features have been ported across from Apple’s high-end music application, Logic Studio. The former lets you fix timing deficiencies and mistakes with a single click, the latter adjusts the timing of a recording for when the rhythm goes a little wrong by moving or stretching individual notes.

For those learning an instrument, there’s a host of extra free lessons, and a great new feature that analyses your playing and shows you where you went wrong.

If you’ll excuse the cliché, iLife ’11 is an evolution, not a revolution. But to coin another cliché, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. £45 for a software suite of this quality is great value for money, and if you’re a fan of iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, it’s definitely worth upgrading. Especially if you qualify for the £6.95 Up-To-Date programme.

Apple iLIfe 11 release date: Out now

Apple iLife 11: £45, or £6.95 via iLife Hardware Up-to-Date program