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iPhoto ’09 — First Thoughts

Posted on January 28th, 2009 by Neil Crosby. Filed under Blog Posts.

For the last month I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of iLife ’09 in the Apple Store. Actually, that’s a lie — I’ve really been eagerly awaiting the arrival of iPhoto ’09. Yesterday, I finally managed to get my hand on a copy.

Obviously this post is just going to cover my initial thoughts about the application. I’ve only had one evening to play with it, and there’s plenty I just haven’t had time to look at yet.

The installation process itself was relatively painless, although it did take about half an hour and required a restart at the end. Bizarrely though, after the restart AntiRSI started crashing on launch. Thankfully this stopped happening once I restarted the machine a second time, and now I once again get lovely messages telling me to stop using my hands every few minutes.

At first glance iPhoto doesn’t look that much different than previous versions, which for me is nice — I always find it annoying to have to learn a brand new interface when a new version of a piece of software comes out.

The feature I’d been looking forward to most had been face detection. I’d only heard about the feature, rather than watching the video from MacWorld, so I didn’t have any real expectations about how it would work. It turns out Faces is pretty simple to use — when viewing any picture that has human faces in it, click the “Name” button at the bottom of the window. Boxes will then appear around faces in the pictures, and you are given the opportunity to say whose faces they are. If iPhoto reckons it knows who the face belongs to it asks “Is this some name?”. The first time it did this for me a huge smile leapt to my face and I let out a little squeal of excitement.

Once you’ve added information about people’s faces, those face turn up in a new Library item called, you guessed it, “Faces”. Here you get a cork-board affair which shows off all the people who you’ve tagged. Double clicking on a face gives you a view of all the photos they appear in, along with a list of photos that iPhoto thinks they’re in, which you can then confirm or deny. Back on the main cork-board, each person’s name is immediately followed by an (i) icon. Clicking on this flips the person’s face to allow you to add a full name and email address for them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t integrate with OS-X’s address book. Given that I already have all this information and more for most of the people I’ll be taking photographs of, this is kind of annoying.

The other feature I’d been really looking forward to was the ability to upload to Flickr. My expectation was that it would work like the old iPhoto plugin I’d used a few year ago — you choose some photos to upload, then give those photos some tags and a description, and then the photos get uploaded to flickr. Well, it kind of worked like that. You select some photos and click the “Flickr” button. They’re then uploaded as a set to your flickr account, and that’s that. Fairly simple but hardly revolutionary.

But then I noticed that the set that had been created in iPhoto had what looked spookily reminiscent of an RSS icon. So, I did what any self respecting geek would do, and started investigating. Clicking back into the set caused the “rss” icon to spin, so I decided to go into Flickr itself and change the set’s name. Back in iPhoto the set’s name changed as well. I added a couple of photos to the set in Flickr. Once again, they showed up in iPhoto. I tried changing tags in Flickr and keywords in iPhoto. Once again they synced both ways. “This is glorious”, I though.

As always though, there are a few flies in the ointment. Firstly, I couldn’t find any way to start syncing with an already existing Flickr set. Sure, you could create a new Flickr set using iPhoto and then copy everything from your old set into your new set, but that seems rather hacky. Likewise, and somewhat surprisingly, the names that you set onto photos using the Faces feature don’t get synced to flickr as tags. I’d suggest writing a little bit of AppleScript to create iPhoto keywords from the photo’s Faces information, but unfortunately the Faces feature doesn’t seem to exist in iPhoto’s AppleScript dictionary.

Overall, I’m really happy with my purchase. Whilst there are a few niggles, they certainly aren’t killers. I bought my copy from The Apple Store here in London because I wanted it there and then, but Amazon have iPhoto ’09 (affiliate link, makes me some money) slightly cheaper than Apple and with free delivery rather than Apple’s exorbitant £4.50+VAT. So, if you’re happy to wait a couple of days and you don’t have an Apple store right by you, I’d buy it from there.

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2 Responses to “iPhoto ’09 — First Thoughts”

  1. Neil – On your point about lack of Address Book integration – I couldn’t agree more. It’s actually very surprising to me that they haven’t linked it – there are about a million reasons to do it. Have you written to Apple to ask them why? I’d be very curious.

  2. Well if you use this program then you contact-information in Apple Address Book will be transfered to Faces! Cheers

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