Our favourite fruity computer company has announced a major overhaul to its iLife suite of digital lifestyle applications. Apple's iLife '08 includes a range of applications including photo management, video and music editing and web content creation. The company reckons the latest iteration represents the biggest overhaul to the suite since its introduction in 2003.

Heading up the list of upgrades is a new version of iPhoto. According to grand fromage Steve Jobs, Apple has noticed that users are increasingly struggling to navigate large digital albums containing thousands upon thousands of snaps.

Event management

Apple has also twigged to the fact that most photos can be grouped according to "events" such as parties, trips and holidays. Which is where iPhoto '08 steps in. Apple claims iPhoto '08 is clever enough to know that groups of uploaded images are probably from a single "Event".

Instead of trawling through literally thousands of unclassified photos, therefore, iPhoto '08 users will apparently glide effortlessly through auto-generated albums numbering at most in the hundreds.

Apple says the "Events" function makes it easy for users to split or merge groups of images. iPhoto '08 also adds a few other bells and whistles, including enhanced abilities to rate images and a new preview feature known as "Skimming" that allows users to mouse-over photos grouped by event and see a multi-thumbnail preview. iPhoto '08's search function has been overhauled, to boot.

The .Mac connection

The updates to iPhoto tie in with a re-jig of Apple's .Mac internet subscription service, specifically courtesy of the addition of the new .Mac Web Gallery. Fully integrated into iPhoto '08, users can send a self contained "Event" or photo albums to their online .Mac Web Gallery with a single click of the mouse.

What's more, visitors to .Mac Web Galleries are treated to a user interface that mimics many of the image preview and manipulation functions of iPhoto.

Other users can also upload to your .Mac Web Gallery which in turn automatically synch with iPhoto '08. And of course, you can now send galleries directly to your iPhone, should you be lucky enough to wield Apple's killer smartphone.

Other applications in the iLife suite, including iMovie, Garage Band, iWeb and iDVD all receive upgrades. iMovie, for instance, now offers better support for HD video editing while the iWeb web content management tool now makes it easy to import web widgets, like video and headline tickers, from other sites as well as insert Google features such as Maps and Adsense directly into users' .Mac web templates.

The new iLife '08 suite is available now from Apple's online UK store for the princely sum of £55.