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Apple updates iPhoto for iLife '08: Fruit puns abound

Apple has updated its iLife software suite, including an improved iPhoto that adds some of the functions familiar to Picasa users, alongside a slick new .Mac web image gallery

You could cut the tension with a knife at Crave Towers last night. A West Side Story-style face-off developed between those Cravers who get excited about new Apples in the orchard, and those who give really don't give a Mac Mini.

The headline news was the well-rumoured new aluminium and glass iMacs. These were announced at a press conference at Apple Towers in Cupertino, where Apple head honcho Steve Jobs also pitched iLife '08. Updates to the lifestyle software suite included some tweaks to Apple's image-management program iPhoto.

The new iPhoto will sport an 'events' feature. Some of Crave's more cynical hacks, looking to upset the Apple-cart, have declaimed this as glorified date-sorting. Events can be merged or split, however, and tagged with keywords.

More flexible previewing is also included, so you won't need to open a gallery to browse or 'skim' images. There's also some improved image-tuning functions, all of which will be familiar to anyone who's ever used PC-only Picasa. As in Google's seminal photo software, iPhoto lets you copy edits you've made on one photo to others, so you don't have to repeat your editing on similar images.

If you're a digicam-sportin' image-sharin' Web 2.0 type you'll be pleased to hear that iPhoto is designed to sync seamlessly with Flickr, although Apple is talking up the new improved .Mac photo services. .Mac is Apple's feature-packed but slightly pricey (starting at £69 per year) Web service.

.Mac now includes a photo gallery that can be viewed and added to by selected friends. You can add images by email or online, and they'll appear in your home iPhoto library and in your Web gallery. It shares the events and skimming functions of iPhoto, and can sync with those iPhone doofers the Yanks have been getting so worked up about. Photos can also be viewed in a slideshow or a carousel (pictured), similar to iTunes' Cover Flow.

Another Apple falling far from the tree was an updated version of the iMovie application. Jobs demonstrated a quicker, easier drag-and-drop template-based system. iMovie is now closer to iPhoto, acting as a library for al your video and capable of working with high-resolution footage. Completed videos can be uploaded to iTunes, the .Mac Video Gallery or YouTube from within the iMovie's menus. iWeb, iDVD and GarageBand were also i-tweaked. -Rich Trenholm