At my suggestion, my family’s birthday gift to me this year was an iLife 08 family pack. After playing with the new GarageGand for all of 15 seconds and experiencing the power of “magic GarageBand,” my 9 year old was convinced this was the best purchasing decision that could be made for Dad! I also played a bit with iPhoto 08 and iMovie 08 in the Apple Store (along with GarageBand) and was pretty impressed.
The main standout feature to iPhoto ’08 is the ability to make web galleries which publish in very slick formats to a .Mac account. In iLife 06 / iPhoto 06 users could publish photos to a subscribable photostream (which others could subscribe to with iPhoto,) but the program did not seem integrated very well overall with .Mac. That has changed with iPhoto 08. I created six different web galleries from old and new iPhoto albums on my computer, which are all linked from a central web gallery page: http://gallery.mac.com/wfryer. As in the past, I was able to password protect images of my kids– this time, however, using both a username and a password. You can setup multiple userid/password combinations and grant various levels of access for different user accounts to different web galleries.
One major change in the web gallery from past versions is that you can now upload photos to existing web galleries directly using email. This is something I’ve done for over a year with my Flickr account, and I’m doubtful I’ll switch my mobile uploads from Flickr to a .Mac web gallery entirely, but the capability is cool and potentially useful. You can also control whether or not others are allowed to download your pictures (a new feature) and even permit others to see the upload by email address and add photos.
This IS cool, and I will probably use this in some upcoming workshops on digital storytelling. I’ve found not many teachers realize this direct “upload photos by email to the web” feature is possible. I still think I’ll upload most of my photos to Flickr– the way images are tagged, available to groups, licensed with Creative Commons, etc. with Flickr is so powerful… I just can’t see switching from Flickr. For a workshop, however, when I want to permit other teachers to upload images directly from their cell phone cameras it will be handy to be able to create a new web gallery and then enable others to contribute photos to it. This will be a faster process that setting up a new Flickr account for a workshop and then sharing the address: If I choose to configure it this way, the web gallery will show visitors the upload by email address right on the site. Excellent!
Another cool feature of the web galleries is how, for publicly shared galleries NOT password protected, people can mouse over the cover image for the gallery and quickly see all the different pictures in the gallery. This is a fancy feature! You can see this now in my gallery for our golden retrievers— the others don’t permit this since they are password protected. I also like the “mosaic” and “carousel” viewing options for galleries, selectable in the lower left corner. The carousel option is similar to the “cover flow” option available in iTunes and on the iPhone for flipping through CD album art. Very slick looking, and a novel way to move through online photo album images.
The option to permit people to download images is cool also: If selected, people can download a dynamically created zip (compressed) file of all images in a particular album. This could be VERY handy when you want to share a collection of images with people for projects, similar to what Hall Davidson and Orange County educators put together with KitZu. I’m impressed all the meta-data for each images is viewable by clicking the information icon for an individual photo as well. This will be great when students or teachers want to share access to that meta data with others that is automatically created by the camera or manually entered via iPhoto.
My only complaint so far about iPhoto 08 is that for some reason, it is not reading my iPhone pictures and letting me import them. I’m guessing this may be an image formatting issue that will be fixed by Apple soon with a software update either for the iPhone or for iPhoto.
Overall, it appears the main changes in iLife 08 are making web publishing EVEN EASIER for “regular folks” / consumers. After I’ve had more time to play with other applications I’ll report on my impressions of them, but for starters I’ll say the “publish to YouTube” feature now included in iMovie 08 as well as the option to directly export a podcast in mp3 format from GarageBand are both welcome features.
Apple continues to set the bar high and set the standard for powerfully enabling computer users to work with and publish media in multiple formats. Unlike previous versions of iPhoto and .Mac which required users to do some manipulation of passwords, directories, and photos online in the web browser, now EVERYTHING is handled right in iPhoto. Slick and impressive, as usual for Apple. Needless to say, I’m quite happy with my birthday gift this year! 🙂
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