Apple on Tuesday introduced a new version of iLife, its software suite that it includes with new Macs and is available to buy from the Apple store at a suggested retail price of £69.

“iLife continues to be one of the biggest reasons our customers choose to get a Mac,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With iLife ’09, we’ve made working with photos, making movies and learning to play music a lot more fun, and iMovie users are especially going to love the advanced but easy-to-use new features.”

iPhoto ‘09

Building on its predecessor which introduced a feature called “Events” that let you organize photos around specific events, iPhoto ‘09 introduces “Faces.” The software incorporates facial recognition features.

The software identifies faces of people in the pictures you take. You can assign them names, then iPhoto adds a snapshot. It uses facial recognition to identify the same person across multiple photos.

“Places” is also new. Like “Events” and “Faces,” it gives iPhoto users a new way to organize photos by place—users are presented with a map with pins for where your photos are located. It uses geotagging—GPS-based location-finding technology embedded in many newer digital cameras, as well as the iPhone.

Users who don’t have a camera device that supports geotagging can rely on Google Maps or just typing in location data. iPhoto has a database of place names for common vacation and travel spots.

iPhoto also adds integration with Facebook and Flickr, two popular social networking Web sites. iPhoto ‘09 can automatically export photos to Facebook; if a Facebook user assigns a name to people in your photo, the information will be synced back to iPhoto.

A new panel has been added for slideshows, and more themes have been added to printing and books, including a “Travel Books” option which incorporates maps produced using geotagging data.

iMovie ‘09

The previous version of iMovie was not well-regarded by long-time users of Apple’s consumer-oriented video editing software. A dramatic redesign focused on ease of use at the expense of many features and functions that iMovie users had grown accustomed to.

In introducing iMovie ‘09, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller tacitly acknowledged this, and noted that Apple has added “depth and power” to the new release.

A new precision editor has been incorporated into iMovie ‘09, with an expanded timeline view for advanced users. Drag & drop of clips has been improved: You can now replace, insert, or add audio only from clips. And audio can be extended from the first clip over audio from the second clip to cover sound difference.

Automatic video stabilization is also a key new feature. The software identifies “jittery” motion and reduces it by comparing frames of video to subsequent and previous frames.

Other new features include new dynamic themes with titles, transitions and credits, including an “Indiana Jones”-style animated travel map that is customized depending on what location you’re shooting from. A new Project Library shows you all of your film clips. Clips can be slowed down, new video effects have been added (with instant previewing — no rendering is necessary).

GarageBand ‘09

GarageBand, Apple’s music composition software, also gets a major update in iLife ‘09.

GarageBand ’09, now gives budding musicians a fun new way to learn to play piano and guitar. Basic Lessons let you learn the fundamentals at your own pace with Apple instructors in HD video synchronised to animated instruments and notation.

Artist Lessons feature original artists showing how to play their hit songs with everything from finger positions and techniques to the story behind the song.

Choose from lessons by popular artists including: Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, John Fogerty, Ben Folds, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and Sting. Artist Lessons are sold separately at the new GarageBand Lesson Store, available inside the GarageBand ’09 application.

GarageBand ’09 also includes new guitar amp and stomp-box effects, and Magic GarageBand Jam that lets you play along with a virtual band that you create.

iWeb and iDVD updated

iLife ’09 includes iWeb ’09 for authoring custom websites and iDVD ’09 for creating DVDs. iWeb ’09 adds new iWeb Widgets, such as iSight video and photos, a countdown timer, YouTube video and RSS feeds.

New integrated FTP publishing allows you to publish your website to virtually any hosting service and updates to your site can now be automatically added to your Facebook profile.

Pricing & Availability

iLife ’09 will be available later this month for a suggested retail price of £69 (inc. VAT). The price has increased by £14 from the previous suggested retail price of £55.

And iLife Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorised Reseller on or after January 6, 2009 for a shipping and handling fee of £7.95 (inc. VAT).

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