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New iLife offers photo, music improvements

Mac users get dramatic photo-editing updates, an eight-track studio and HD video support.

Apple Computer introduced substantial new updates to its iLife package of multimedia software on Tuesday, including powerful tools for manipulating digital photos and recording music.

The new version of iPhoto, contained inside the iLife suite, gives people the ability to edit pictures in ways resembling the basic features of the high-end Photoshop software from Adobe Systems. New video editing software will support high-definition video cameras, and the GarageBand music recording software contains new tools for recording multiple members of a band.

The software suite, announced at this week's Macworld Expo, will be included with all new Macintosh computers, or available separately for $79.

"iLife '05 is far beyond anything available on a PC and is a must-have upgrade for every Mac user," Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. "If you have a digital camera, digital camcorder or create music, iLife '05 is built for you."

The improvements to the iPhoto software will likely be the most widely used. Previous versions of the software included only rudimentary tools for editing the photos themselves. Photographers using the new version will be able to adjust saturation, tint, temperature and sharpness of the color, as well as other more detailed elements.

The software will now support photos in the RAW file format, which is the uncompressed data taken by most digital cameras. That will let advanced photographers retain higher-quality versions of their photos to work with.

The new iPhoto also will include new tools for building slideshows, allowing effects to be applied to each slide.

Apple's latest version of its GarageBand software adds a full eight-track recording mechanism so that different instruments can be recorded simultaneously and manipulated separately later. This could allow an entire band to play at the same time, or let a band record and mix eight separate instruments. Separate hardware would be needed to take advantage of simultaneous multichannel recording, however.

The software also will display and edit music notation.

The company's new iMovie HD will support high-definition video from a new generation of video cameras, and a streamlined process for importing movies. The iDVD application includes new editing effects and support for creating a DVD directly from a digital camcorder.

The iLife suite also comes with iTunes, the company's music jukebox software that is available freely on the Web.