Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006 4:46 pm
iPhoto 6 is good stuff

I’m very impressed with what I have seen on iLife ’06. However, the application most essential to me is iPhoto, and has it managed to score some major new advancements. Oh yes. For me, speed is key, and is pretty much the only feature affecting me.

Even though Steve Jobs was touting “speed” in previous years, the true “speed” only arrived in this release. In fact, it has pissed me off knowing how many hours I have wasted using the previous versions of iPhoto, now knowing the potential speed on the same hardware. Some software tweaks have been done under the hood–why begs the question of why it takes Apple several years to optimise an important Cocoa application?

Yes, it does “scroll like butter” even on a PowerBook 15" 1.25 GHz/768RAM (My photo library is stored on an external 7200 RPM 3.5" drive). The telling thing is that I am no longer fearful of launching iPhoto; whereas in the past, the very thought of using it made me look at the clock and wonder whether my next couple of hours were free. And one more thing™: I no longer envy those Picasa users on Windows. Especially now that I know that the Macs are receiving a kick up the rear with the Yonah adoption.

More speed is always a good thing, and if that was the only new difference that would be OK. There are a few more “evolutions” though.

iPhoto has also adopted the “iTunes-look” which is not quite brushed-metal (Safari), and which I guardedly do like. It does look “lighter” than true brushed metal, and the border-less look works. The colours: dark grey title bar, light grey bits and the light blue album area do clash though.

Full-screen editing builds upon the editing capabilities in previous iPhotos. Now, palettes are not just translucent: some get out of the way when not needed—and quickly too. Images can also be compared side-by-side. Thankfully. there is no fade-to-black when entering/exiting full-screen mode. The usual “some may still need Photoshop” disclaimers apply.

The calendars/photos/book printing “features” are a continual slap in the face for those Macintosh users, who do not live in North America, Japan and Europe, since these features are not available to us. That would be not too bad, since surely we can disable their respective buttons at the bottom of iPhoto window. Nope. Even though the ability to customise that particular toolbar has been present since the last version… those particular buttons… can… not… be… removed. Personally I suspect this to be a simple oversight, although an Australian service would be nice. I don’t think I’d be keen on printing a custom-designed gorgeous calendar on my home inkjet.

It would be easy to just focus on these new features. iPhoto does still have the old faithfuls. My favourite features: the calendar, keywords, smart albums, enhance and adjust features are still there (and work faster too). And… even though iPhoto’s proprietary filing system is sometimes disparaged, I am a big fan and a convert.

Finally, and coming back to the new speed improvements, the Media Browser in other applications is now workable. Previously launching the Media Browser (which hooks into the iPhoto database) was as bad as launching iPhoto itself.

So, iPhoto: You’ve had the features. But now you’re fast enough to no longer be embarrassing to use. Woot!

[posted with ecto]

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