At Apple’s iPad event last week, hardware was not the only star: Apple also announced updates for its two current iLife iOS apps — GarageBand and iMovie — and added a third one: iPhoto. Like the original two iLife for iOS apps, the new iPhoto app costs $4.99 and is available now. It is compatible with the iPad 2, the forthcoming third-generation iPad, and the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, though apparently not the original iPad or any model of the iPod touch.
iPhoto for iOS -- The new iPhoto for iOS has been designed with a touch interface in mind, and offers some powerful features. Using a thumbnail grid, it makes browsing photos a matter of easy swipes, but more interesting is its capability to find and display similar pictures when you double-tap one. And, like the desktop version, iPhoto for iOS provides the capability to hide or flag individual photos.
Apple has also implemented multi-touch editing in iPhoto, giving competing photo apps a run for your money. Simple tap and drag motions enable users to adjust saturation, exposure, and contrast, and an automatic horizon detection feature provides an easy way to straighten pictures that are unintentionally crooked.
The app offers a number of effects that users can apply easily, including tilt-shift (for that “this wasn’t a scale model I photographed, but I made it look like one” appearance), watercolor, black-and-white, vintage, and others. Effects can be modified with simple pinch, zoom, and swipe gestures.
iPhoto for iOS also comes with a bundle of “brushes” that can be used to apply touch-ups to photos. For example, you can swipe with a desaturation brush to reduce the amount of color in part of an image, or use a saturation brush to increase it. Other brushes include lighten, darken, soften, sharpen, red-eye, and repair.
Although iPhoto for iOS doesn’t seem to provide the capability to order prints, cards, or books, it can produce on-screen photo journals that comprise selected photos arranged attractively and supplemented with captions, maps, and even weather information. These journals (though not individual photos) can also be published as Web pages to iCloud for sharing with family and friends. Photos can also be directly published to Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, or sent via AirPlay to an Apple TV or other compatible device. Photos can also be beamed over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to other compatible iOS devices, for those who don’t use, or don’t want to use, iCloud’s Photo Stream, or if you snapped a shot on an iPhone and want to edit it on the larger screen of an iPad.
Disappointingly, there appears to be no direct synchronization between the iPhoto iOS app and your full iPhoto library on the Mac, short of those photos that appear in your Photo Stream. That’s unfortunate, since most people will have extensive existing photo libraries that they might want to work on from multiple devices. Only new photos added from a Mac make it into Photo Stream; anything in your library before you started using iCloud would seem to be excluded, as are older photos that drop out of your Photo Stream. However, iPhoto on the Mac can still sync photos with iOS devices via iTunes.
GarageBand and iMovie -- The other two iLife for iOS apps, GarageBand and iMovie, got their share of Apple love as well. (The other two traditional iLife apps for Mac, iWeb and iDVD, were, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, not invited to the iOS party. It’s safe to assume that they are ex-parrots.)
GarageBand gained some new features, including a note editor and the capability to jam, via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with other nearby iOS devices running the app. The smart instruments have become smarter, with the addition of Smart Strings, Smart Bass, and Custom Chords. GarageBand’s capability to edit recordings has become more sophisticated as well.
GarageBand is now integrated with iCloud, enabling users to access their compositions from any device they have handy: that is, as long as it is an iPad, iPhone 4 or later, or third-generation or later iPod touch. Finished songs can also be shared via the Internet with Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud. Songs can also be shared on the device with the latest iteration of iMovie, with iTunes on a computer, or via email.
iMovie for iOS gains one major new feature: like its desktop sibling, iMovie for iOS now enables users to compose movie trailers. In addition, you can now create a still frame from video by swiping up across the playhead from the bottom.
For those who already own iMovie or GarageBand for iOS, the updates to the new versions are free. For those new to the iLife on iOS world, each of the three apps costs $4.99.
Apple’s Other iOS Apps -- Apple also updated the iWork suite of apps: Keynote, Pages, and Numbers (each of which is $9.99). Aside from support for additional charts in all three apps and updated animations in Keynote, the biggest update is support for the new, higher resolution Retina display in the third-generation iPad.
Apple’s free apps — Find My Friends, Find My iPhone, iBooks, and Remote — also received improved graphics for the Retina display, along with unspecified bug fixes and stability enhancements. iBooks 2.1 now lets you see page numbers that correspond to the printed editions of certain titles, search for a page number to jump to a specific page with a single tap, use your finger as a highlighter when swiping over text, and more. The Remote app also includes support for iTunes Match on the Apple TV.