Sunday, January 23, 2005

iPhoto '05 (and iLife'05) - Improved, but not in every way

I can't say how much I was looking forward to an updated and improved version of iPhoto. V.4 was getting very tiresome to me. But before I go any further, I need to lay out for you my system specs as my comments will need to be taken in light of them.

17" PowerBook @ 1.33GHz :: 1GB RAM :: 80GB Fujitsu HD (standard), over 40 GB free space

OS X 10.3.7, optimized weekly using Cocktail and/or Disk Utility.

Picture Library has 1190 photos.

Installing iLife'05 was fairly slow, but then, a few gig will take some time. Not a big deal.

First app to test, and arguably most important to me: iPhoto

First launch and config. Took a few minutes given the import time, thumbnail imports, etc.

Launches faster than v.4 which is good. Probably shaved 20 seconds off the time, though I briefly see the spinning beach ball still. Scrolling thru the pictures is brisk and a bit improved over 4 as well. Nice. Better use of screen real-estate is a very welcome UI change. Seems the app has been thought through more with this update.

But editing a picture is both good and bad. First the good. Edits are noticeably faster, as are undos. Faster is almost always good, IMO. (Now the bad) But the new "Adjust" feature is unbelievably slow, the sliders do not move in real-time when I click/slide them. For a 1.33GHz machine loaded like mine to struggle to keep up with my mouse movements, it is simply unacceptably, quite frankly. It leaves me extremely disappointed in a feature I was really looking forward to.

I've read some positive reviews of iPhoto 5 in several places, and most, if not all, were highly favorable. If comments on editing speed, specifically the "Adjust" feature, were critical of speed, I must have missed them.

In fact, let me be blunt. On my 750MHz Pentium III Dell Inspiron laptop, Picasa 2 is much faster in the editing department - especially where the "Adjust" equivalent is concerned. I find that simply too hard to believe. To top it off, the Picasa 2 development team added tons of eye candy to the editing functions which have very little hit on the speed of the app. And that little Dell, quite frankly a piece of junk in many ways, runs XP Pro, has an ailing 20 GB HD and only 512MB RAM. Go figure.

Say what you will about x86 code being better optimized for, well, x86 based chips, Apple/IBM/Motorola have had PLENTY of time to optimize apps for the PPC chips. And maybe Tiger will help things, I don't know. But when bloated Microsoft Office 2003 on that same Dell runs way faster than Microsoft Office 2004 on my PBook, I have to say that there must be more to PPC coding than meets the eye. I guess coders must be hampered by OS X not being fully optimized in and of itself? I don't know, but it is a concern. We're 4 years into the OS X game, it needs to be better than it is.

In my head I knew that Steve was demoing iLife on the latest, greatest G5 - maybe even a 3+ GHz prototype - maxed out on RAM with a 7k or 10k RPM hard drive. It was deceptively smooth and unbelievably fast. My heart knew that it (iLife'05) had to be an improvement, but I shouldn't expect the speedy responses that Steve got in the keynote.

Even so. On a machine that is just over 1 year old and in excellent shape, good grief.