iLife 05 ships worldwide on January 29 and costs £49.

As expected there is no upgrade path for iLife 04 users. Apple hopes the wide array of improvements made to the suite will justify the investment. The software is free with all new Macs.

It offers new versions of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and GarageBand and includes iTunes (which hasn’t been upgraded).

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: “iLife 05 is far beyond anything available on a PC, and is a must-have upgrade for every Mac user. If you have a digital camera, digital camcorder or create music, iLife ‘05 is built for you.”

iPhoto 5

iPhoto 5 adds advanced editing tools so users can perform the most common editing tasks on images without leaving the application. These include controls to set exposure, black and white points, saturation, tint, temperature and sharpness, while also showing users a histogram and providing an intuitive way to straighten photos. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "Now it is not necessary to leave iPhoto to make a photo really perfect".

It introduces built-in support for uncompressed RAW photos throughout the entire application as well as a new advanced slideshow builder which allows users to apply effects, transitions and durations to each individual slide. According to Jobs: "iPhoto now has the best RAW support in the industry."

The application is now able to utilise a function found on most of today's digital cameras. Video. iPhoto now shows the video footage taken with these digital cameras.

The application’s capacity to build books has been tweaked, with digital image book development costs now as low as $3.99. A variety of book layouts have also been introduced, all featuring double-sided printing. The existing ten page hard-cover book is now priced lower and holds double the capacity of photos thanks to the double-sided printing. Two cover books are now available in two sizes. And a $4 pocket book is also on offer.

All the iPhoto books are available internationally, according to Jobs.

“With iPhoto 5, Apple is also cutting the price of individual 4x6 prints in half, from 39 cents to just 19 cents each,” the company said. UK prices not yet available.

iMovie HD

iMovie HD extends the capabilities of the popular application by allowing users to capture and edit High Definition Video (HDV) taken from recent video cameras.

A new feature - Magic Movie - is automated software that imports video into separate clips, and will add titles, transitions and music in one step. iMovie HD imports video from HDV and standard DV camcorders, and from video cameras that generate MPEG-4 video.

iDVD delivers new themes, formats, more

iDVD 5 now offers 15 new themes. These feature moving “drop zones”. The latter can display video clips or photos in motion across DVD menus, just like the latest Hollywood DVDs. In fact, according to Jobs, these are "better than most Hollywood DVDs".

Automation and ease-of-use remain critical in Apple’s product strategy - iDVD 5 features OneStep DVD, which lets users make DVDs simply by plugging in a DV camcorder and clicking a button.

The new version of the application now supports all single-sided DVD formats including -R, +R, -RW and +RW with a compatible Apple SuperDrive.

GarageBand gets good gig

Already a widely-respected music creation application, Apple’s taken GarageBand further, GarageBand 2 adds eight-track recording, so users can record an entire band at once, plus pitch and timing correction to fix imperfect sounds.

GarageBand 2 also displays and edits musical notation in real time “for people who know how to read and write music or want to learn”, said Apple.

The company also introduced a new classical music-focused Jam Pack, Jam Pack 4: Symphony Orchestra. This is sold separately and will be available in the US on Saturday, January 22 and worldwide on Saturday, January 29 for a suggested retail price of £65.

No iTunes upgrade in the box

iLife 05 also includes the latest version of iTunes - 4.7.1, which supports iPods, iPod minis and the new iPod shuffle. The latest version of iTunes, released today, and iPod Updater 2005-01-11 are available as a free download for both Windows and Mac users.

iLife 05 will be available in the US on Saturday, January 22 and worldwide on Saturday, January 29 for $79.

The suite will be included with all new Macs, and an iLife Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchase a new Mac on or after January 11 that does not include iLife 05 for a shipping and handling fee of £14.

iLife requires Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later, QuickTime 6.5.2 or later, a Mac with a PowerPC G3 (400 Mhz or faster), G4, or G5 processor, 256MB or more physical RAM (512MB recommended) and a 1,024x768 or larger display. A 600 Mhz G3 processor or faster is required for GarageBand. A G4 or G5 processor is required for GarageBand software instruments and advanced iPhoto editing.

An Apple SuperDrive or 733 MHz G4 processor is required for iDVD and a compatible SuperDrive is required to burn DVDs. High definition video requires Mac OS X v10.3.6, a 1Ghz G4 processor or faster, and 512 MB of RAM. RAW requires Mac OS X v10.3.6 and a supported RAW compatible camera.

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With additional reporting by Karen Haslam in San Francisco.