Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 cool things you can do with iLife

10 cool things you can do with iLife
Wed, Mar 18, 2009

By Jasmine Osada

Apple's latest update to the iLife software suite, iLife '09, includes a number of improvements and new features.

Here's our guide to the 10 coolest things you can do with your music, photos and videos:

1. Sort your photos according to who's in them

With the new Faces feature in iPhoto, users can now teach the software to recognize the faces of individuals in their snapshots. After tagging several photos of the same person, Faces is intelligent enough to get a grasp of what Dad looks like so you don't have to manually sort all of your pictures. We found that iPhoto managed to snag the identities of most friends a d family right - and it even correctly told my first cousin apart from Andy Lau. Too bad for my cousin, whom everyone thinks has some resemblance to the Hong Kong star.

2. Hey, is this Josh, ten years ago?

Do you have old pictures of well, everyone? iPhoto's Faces feature surprised us in being able to identify pictures of people even as they age. We put some college photos of several people into iPhoto and then added pictures of them when they were in secondary school. iPhoto was able to recognize the correct faces for about three quarters of the pictures we had. So next time iPhoto tells you this old picture is actually your classmate Josh from ten years ago, take a closer look.

3. I want to play the guitar, can you teach me, Mac?

Remember the old days when we played educational CD-ROMs to help us with math and spelling? GarageBand's latest feature, Basic Lessons, features a number of kultz-proof, easy to understand videos to get you started on how to play a guitar or a piano. There are nine video lessons for each instrument, so hold back on those music classes first and give GarageBand a try - you might not only save money in the long run, but your 'music instructor' is available anytime of the day and never tires to show you how its done one more time.

4. Well, actually I would prefer Norah Jones teach me instead

Oh, so now we're getting a little picky about teachers aren't we? No matter. After all, who can better teach you how to play a song than the orginal artist who composed or performed it? iLife's GarageBand offers Artist Lessons, featuring big names such as Sting and Norah Jones. Want to play Roxanne the way Sting plays it? Learn from the guy himself.

5. We took this picture right in front of the Eiffel Tower

Face it, when we're on holiday, we take pictures. Lots of them. And the reason why we take pictures is to show that we've been to that place right? Now wouldn't it be nice if you can see all the places you've been to, and all the pictures you've taken there? iPhoto's Places feature can automatically detect location information for pictures taken on GPS-enabled cameras or the iPhone, and geo-tag them (yes, anywhere on Earth, literally). Don't have an iPhone or a GPS-enabled camera? You can geo-tag your images manually as well.

6. Okay, we actually snapped the picture at home

Have a piece of green cloth and a nice photo of the Eiffel Tower? You don't have to spend thousands going to France to find yourself and the Eiffel Tower in one photo or video. Simply record a video of yourself standing in front of the green cloth (or green screen as they call it). Fire up iMovie and fire up the green screen function. The software is smart enough to filter out the green background and superimpose your image onto any one that you choose. You can even superimpose your video onto that of another one, like say the Niagara Falls, to make things more convincing. Now you're travelling the world and making amazing travel videos, and you never even left home.

7. So I'm a movie director wannabe...

Unless you have been working all your life editing videos, chances are that you'll be like the rest of us when it comes to editing movies - we know what we want the video clip to look like, but have no idea how to get about it. iMovie's Precision Editor feature allows you to edit your videos almost any way you want it, without all that funky knowledge of how to use complicated software. We tried dragging and dropping clips, changing the background audio to music and adding in video effects. Easy.

8. My hands are shaky, and I filmed this video...

Unless you're a surgeon, chances are that you'll have shaky hands. And even if you are a surgeon, there's no chance the video camera won't suffer from Shaky Hand Syndrome if you're on a rickety bus. The Video Stabilization feature was surprisingly effective in our tests, and this is a good bet to restore your old video clips you had thought were ruined by shaky hands.

9. Right, so next time we're going where?

Both iPhoto and iMovie now offer a Travel Maps feature, great for those who travel, and take lots of pictures and videos on the go. Showing your travel route might only be for friends to easily understand your video now, but look at your photo book or travel video a few years later and you'll be thankful for Travel Maps. Like, ah, so we did indeed go to Kyoto instead of Kobe.

10. And now to put everything on Facebook!

Remember we were saying everyone takes pictures because they want to show that they've been to a certain place? Pictures alone aren't going to do much good unless you share them, and iPhoto allows you to do just that - on Facebook. The latest iPhoto '09 allows users to upload and share their pictures on the social networking site. If you've got geo-tagged shots, you can integrate them to the photo-sharing website, Flickr too.

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