iLife and iWork Initial Impression

UPDATE 01/14/06: added link to 1:30 screencast of iLife crashing.

Followed blog updates during Steve Jobs keynote yesterday and headed to Apple’s web site and read up on the new software and hardware. Impressed with Apple’s typical prowess at streamlining workflow with applications that are gorgeous and work great, I popped on over to the Apple Store this afternoon and picked up two family packs of the new iLife and iWork ’06 for $200 plus tax.

For the first time, I’m not pleased with what Apple has delivered.

Having been an Apple fanboy for many years, I’ve been enamored with how they take very complex concepts and make them simple for non-technical humans. I chuckle often when I realize that my bride and kids are using unix! Just so you know, I consider myself a power user on Mac and Windows as well as “most things internet” so I very rarely require nor ask for technical support — but I’m arm-wrestling iLife and iWork and am going to seek help.

After buying the apps, I came home and installed them and here is my initial impression:

  • Booting iWeb *always* has a shameless .Mac splash screen. What’s up with THAT?  If I choose to buy off on the service, fine. But don’t annoy me every time.
  • iWeb crashes on a couple of the themes. I created an initial site (using the Travel theme) and published it offline in to a directory (which I’d do and then FTP it to my web host). Worked fine. When trying to choose some of the other themes (not all), the program would simply crash (Road Trip and Freestyle themes crash every time).
  • Garageband 2 worked perfectly with my audio chain (Presonus Firebox) but this new 3 version does not. There is significant latency that I cannot eliminate (I talk and a uarter second later I hear the sound in my headphones) rendering it unusable. As a test, I booted up Logic Express 7 (my main podcast recording application) and it recorded perfectly so it’s not my gear or computer — it’s the new Garageband.
  • iMovie is sloooow. I tried out one of their new themes (which are cool) but it takes a long time to render and the app has fits and starts. (Should note that I have a dual 2.5ghz PowerMac with 1.5GB’s of RAM).
  • The iWork installer (for Pages and Keynote) would get close to completion and I’d get an error message that “installation could not be completed.” After performing system maintenance (trashing all preferences, repairing permissions, doing a cold reboot, etc.) and after repeated tries, the error message continued. Finally, I decided to just attempt to double-click and launch Keynote. It worked! My response was, huh?


Ilife

LINK to 8.3MB .mp4: View the screencast of iWeb crashing on two of the themes

This is so unlike Apple. My bride is in Europe and we talked yesterday…and I mentioned buying these apps plus planning to order the new MacBook Pro (the Intel-based Powerbook replacement). She said, “You never buy the first generation anything…shouldn’t we wait?”  I was prepared to order one anyway and live with any problems that arose….but now I’m going to wait until the bugs are worked out.

I really appreciate how Apple takes concepts like podcasting, web publishing, video editing, print publishing, presentations and DVD creation to new heights of elegance, sophistication and yet be so focused on simplicity. But if a guy like me — who can troubleshoot nearly every technical problem — finds that easy, elegant and simple applications don’t function or have installation problems, what is non-techie Joe SixPack gonna do?

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10 Comments

  1. Tim on January 12, 2006 at 10:03 am

    Thanks, Steve, for saving me $80 on iLife… I’ll wait until Garageband 3.1 before picking this one up…



  2. George on January 12, 2006 at 10:21 am

    As far as latency goes, the same type of issue popped up with a number of audio interfaces when GarageBand 2 was released. Drivers that had acceptable latency with version 1 suddenly had 250ms or greater latency delays. Since the company I work for (Line 6) just spent a lot of time fixing drivers to remove the latency with GarageBand 2 and Logic 7, this report has me a little concerned. I haven’t received my copy of iLife ’06 yet, but I’ll be testing for this as soon as I do.



  3. Steve Borsch on January 12, 2006 at 11:40 am

    I had “ducking” turned on (which automatically lowers volume on one track and backgrounds it). Turning that off (which I’d prefer not to do) took care of the latency issue.

    Garageband is my #1 hot button (though Keynote in iWork is a close second…with iMovie and iDVD tied for third) so it needs to be just a tinch more solid before I’ll give up Logic Express 7 and turn to it for production (gotta admit though, I love the user interface on GB).



  4. T. Schneider on January 12, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    Bummer.. iLife 05 was the first version in a *long* time that was finally worth using. Seriously!!! I had given up on iMovie and went to Final Cut Express it was so bad. Any iMovie work I did found me booting into Mac OS 9 and using the bombproof and extremely stable iMovie 2.1.2 along with the very very excellent iMovie 2 Soltuions (tips, tricks, special effects)

    Not good to hear that the old slowness of iMovie is back, too
    bad, those new themes looked cool (during the keynote)

    Wanna bet Steve was demoing on intel based hardware?

    Wanna bet that iLife 06 is tweaked to work better on
    the core duo?

    I’m waiting I think.. maybe the local Comp USA’s, Frys
    or other resellers will have G5 and core duo’s displayed
    together (for real world comparisons)



  5. Sara on January 15, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    Steve WAS demoing on Intel hardware… new iMacs. It’s quite possible iLife 06 is tweaked to work better on them.



  6. Brian Kay on January 16, 2006 at 2:37 am

    Jobs is just as guilty as Gates in releasing early, buggy, everything.

    Apple is taking the momentum of the Christmas IPOD craze, and making an early release to keep that momentum to try and build the hype of the old days.

    Even back then, bomb’s were everywhere, and it wasn’t much different than today.

    If Apple is going to really compete in the “INTEL WORLD” they need to make fixes, patches, and use push technology to push out the fixes.

    I like the fact that you can use IWEB to publish to non .mac sites. I could care less for slilde shows anyways.

    Apple is moving in the right direction, and with continued pushing and hyping, and people already running hacks to run Mac OS on PC’s, this may be an interesting year for those of us who were there in the beginning of all this with the Apple II’s and the I386’s……..

    Imagine, a multi-boot PC that would give you the pleasure of both Operating Systems, Panther, and Vista.

    This is going to be a fun year…..



  7. Barry on January 17, 2006 at 11:32 am

    I too suffered from iWeb crashing, until I created a new user account. As a new user, the crashing issues went away.

    There must be some incompatibities somewhere with my system (plugins, extensions, etc.).



  8. Marco on January 18, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    I have not had any of these problems on my G5 imac (2GHZ). What gives? Iweb works as adevrtised, I do have a .Mac account so maybe that is teh factor. I actually found iPhoto very fast on my G4 Powerbook with only 512 MB of Ram. Make sure you repair permissions regularly.



  9. Steve Borsch on January 18, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Marco,

    I’m pretty disciplined with maintenance on my machine (e.g., repairing permissions before *and after* updates) and keeping my root and user Library folders clean, etc.

    It’s not you and I that are the issue. It’s my sister, my cousin, my neighbor whom I help with issues frequently. They do very little of that and others have been experiencing crashing.

    Thanks for the comment!


    Steve



  10. Matthew Harvey on August 14, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Great Blog 🙂

    I too have issues with iLife 06 – it came preinstalled on my spanking new MacPro – but GarageBand crashes quite regularly, often when attempting to export to aiff/itunes.
    iDVD does some of the worst conversions of (standard lossless) Quicktime to DVD I’ve ever come across – very jerky and it seems without proper field conversion. Pretty unusable. iMovie is slow and bothersome – back to Premier Pro for me.
    iWeb – just annoys me, not deep enough, not enough templates, can’t make your own templates, lacks features and a pain to upload to a non .mac domain. Time to learn Dreamweaver or RapidWeaver (probably the latter 🙂

    All crash quite often, seem buggy and unstable, I’m disappointed in Apple. Going to try ‘demo’s of the new 08 versions I think, prior to purchase.
    (I’ve been on Apple’s since 1988 btw).

    Matt



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