Blog Post

Adapting iLife for a Tablet

One of the interesting rumors that has come up after the official announcement of Apple’s event on the 27th is that a new version of iLife will also be announced there. Whether or not this rumor is accurate is less interesting than what an Apple tablet might mean for iLife.

As we all know iLife has been a key selling point for the Mac lineup ever since the first version was announced at Macworld in 2003. In many ways it epitomizes the difference between Macs and the competition, as iLife gives any Mac user easy to use and well-integrated tools to explore their creativity on a computer.

Whether iLife, or some version of it, will make it to an Apple tablet is a matter of debate, it depends on whether you think the tablet will be a complete computing platform or just a content-consumption device a la the iPhone. I tend to agree with John Gruber that what Apple is aiming for with the tablet is redefining the computing experience, that is replacing entry-level computers rather than complementing them. That leads me to believe that Apple will try to reproduce at least some of iLife on its tablet device, even if it’s just a matter of consistency in branding.

So what would that look like? Let’s look at each application in turn and consider what might be left in and what would be taken out.


Thumbnail browsing is obvious and I imagine the event browsing view will also be a core feature. I also expect the editing features to remain intact, including non-destructive editing. Uploading to MobileMe, Facebook or Flickr will almost assuredly be included.

Faces may be the most obvious feature not to make it into iPhoto on a tablet due to its impact on the processor. Places might make it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it left out. I also expect the ability to create books, calendars etc. wouldn’t make it to a tablet.


This one is tough, I frankly wouldn’t be surprised to see GarageBand left off a tablet entirely. That said if Apple does decide to put the iLife suite on the tablet it’s unlikely to pick and choose apps so what would GarageBand on a tablet do? I’d expect basic functionality, like trimming and arranging audio clips. Perhaps some fun effects and instruments that can be thrown in.

Don’t expect to be able to record and produce your own music on the tablet. GarageBand has always been one of the most impressive parts of iLife, I would not expect it to keep that badge on a tablet device.


At the very least simple trimming of clips will be in (see the iPhone). I also expect the ability to combine clips, add transitions and titles and perhaps even add your own music or voice-over. Uploading to YouTube or MobileMe will also definitely be included.

Advanced color editing and the ability to pull audio out from a video clip will probably not be included. I also wouldn’t expect the ability to import AVCHD files.


Like iPhoto, iWeb’s interface lends itself to a touch capable tablet device. It’s really just a drag and drop operation. Thus I expect most features of iWeb to make the transition to a tablet.

I wouldn’t expect the ability to export your site to a local folder as I don’t expect a tablet device to have much in the way of a file system. Other than that I can’t think of any major features that might be left out.


Ah, the red-stepchild of the iLife suite. Let’s be frank, there’s no way in heck anything resembling the current iDVD makes it to a tablet. That said there have been rumors of a re-worked iDVD that might become the publishing tool for things like iTunes LP. If that happens then some version might make it onto a tablet device.


Related GigaOM Pro Research: Rumored Apple Tablet: Opportunities Too Big to Ignore

15 Responses to “Adapting iLife for a Tablet”

  1. It’s funny you dismiss Garageband so confidently

    Some people seem to think that a tablet might work for music:

    not to mention all the iphone apps.

    The tablet might not do everything on its own, but it could make a great extra controller for a mac computer. I think you have not considered what the tablet might be able to do not just by itself, but in conjunction other hardware (including, but not limited to, a mac)


    • I’d be more interested in speech and handwriting recognition being coded into iWork-for-the-tablet than iLife less bells-and-whistles. In fact it really needs to be system wide for text input generally. I could then spend some of the time I am driving(which is quite a lot), getting real work done.

  2. I think it’s probably a mistake to think Apple will target a version of iLife at the tablet. iLife is a poor fit for a finger-oriented UI. The tablet will, I predict, get its apps from the app store, like the iPhone. Each app of the iLife suite may show up on the tablet (with drastically altered UI and functionality), but they won’t be in the form of a bundle you buy for $99.

    My bet is that the tablet will be a new thing: part media player, part game platform and part mobile UI for your desktop computer.

  3. Gazoobee

    This has to be the most disappointing article I’ve read in a while. You say above the fold that it’s a piece on what iLife would look like on the tablet which is intriguing, then the bit below is just a few lists of “in’s” and “out’s”? I found that out and out deceptive, but maybe you are just a bad writer.

    I am not sure personally what iLife would be good for on a tablet given that most of the iLife apps are about media *storage* and media *management* on your main computer and the tablet is more likely to be an adjunct to your main computer, at least at first. What Gruber was talking about was the long picture, not necessarily what’s going to be announced next week.

    If it is in there though, I find your choices to be almost completely backwards. Garage band is probably the *most* likely to work effectively on the tablet as it’s about creation, and all it has to do is arrange and trim audio clips to work. It’s the other apps that need more GUI than the tablet might be able to provide.

    The tablet will most likely be focussed on content *creation*, not managing photos or videos. To that end a discussion about how you will actually use it to write, or to draw, and the GUI it uses to do that would be far more interesting as well as more or less what people might expect from your article title and lead in.

    If this was high school (and it seems it sorta is), this article gets a C- or possibly even a D from me.