From my point of view, the biggest news from Steve Jobs’ keynote this morning was the announcement of iLife. More specifically, it was the new version of iPhoto, which I’d really been hoping would be announced. And so it was. It’s much faster, more capable, enables photo sharing with Rendezvous—just about everything I’d hoped would happen. Unfortunately, it also came with something I hadn’t expected: a price tag.
I have no problems with Apple charging money for a piece of software. What bothers me is the practice of releasing it for free and then, without warning, bundling it into a commercial suite. If they’d charged for it all along, that would be fine. If we’d known ahead of time that it would be free until Apple felt it was a product worth selling, at which time it would stop being free, fine. But that was never made clear, if it was even mentioned at all, and I find that annoying.
Further exacerbating the problem is that of the five iLife components, I have use for only two of them, iPhoto and iTunes, and the former of them is (for the moment) free. iDvd, iMovie, and Garage Band are completely useless to me as I have neither a video camera nor a garage band. So if I really want iPhoto 4, I have to pay $49 for it and a bunch of unnecessary code. That doesn’t make sense to me. Hopefully, Apple will offer the iLife components separately, so that I could pay $9.99 for iPhoto and ignore the rest. Or, better still, they’ll release an update to the free iPhoto that fixes the sluggishness but doesn’t include the other cool stuff in the commercial version.
Alternatively, I could hunt for a freeware replacement to iPhoto. At least one colleague has asked me why I use iPhoto at all, given its slowness and the bloated data files and directory structures it creates. The thing is, I really like the way iPhoto allows you to modify photos while preserving the originals, and the way album organization is handled. The transition effect in the slideshows is pretty nifty, too. In general, the whole iPhoto interface and feature set works pretty well for me—it’s just the lack of speed that’s a problem. Well, that and the lack of smoothly resized exports, but I’ve complained about that in the past. If I could find something equivalent to iPhoto, or at least darned close to it, I’d probably switch. If no such application exists, then I’d love to see some open-source coders get together and create one. Any takers?