Apple SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing at Apple (s aapl) Phil Schiller was on hand at today’s event to demonstrate the new features of iPhoto ’11. One of the most striking changes to iPhoto is a new focus on a full-screen interface which closely resembles some iPad interfaces. In full-screen mode, there’s a toolbar to select Events, Faces, Places, and Albums, all of which have their own custom displays.
Slideshows have been enhanced with some new themes, including a new holiday theme. However, more impressive than holiday cards flying around on ribbons in front of a snowflake background: the new email feature where you can send sets of pictures with HTML templates directly from within iPhoto. It’s another feature that seems borrowed from the iPad.
The real benefit of including the email templates inside iPhoto is that you can rearrange the photos, resize them, and edit to your heart’s content before sending the message. Facebook and Flickr (s yhoo) sharing have been updated as well, and iPhoto will automatically download pictures to your iPhoto library that have been added to these online services.
Printing books and cards has been improved. Books now use better application logic to decide how to lay out pictures, using the key photo from the iPhoto album for the cover and grouping together pictures that were taken at the same time and in the same place. iPhoto ’11 will also recognize the star ratings you’ve assigned to your photos, and will give preference to higher-rated pictures for the bigger spreads.
Letterpress cards are a new choice that use embossed paper to add a high-end custom-made feel to your printed cards. There’s even a video demonstration of how letterpress cards are made to explain this option to iPhoto users.
iPhoto ’11 looks like a solid upgrade with several enhancements that will make sharing photos by email, Facebook and Flickr easier, improve slideshows, and make printed books and cards even better. I think the full-screen interface looks interesting but I’ll wait to pass judgment until I’ve had a chance to use it. It’s clear that Apple is moving towards full-screen all around and is even featuring this approach in the next version of Mac OS X (10.7). Perhaps iPhoto ’11 will be the canary in the coal mine to show if this approach is a great innovation for the desktop or a simple gimmick designed to ride the coattails of the iPad.
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