Apple iLife '09

We also found that the Adjust panel in iPhoto '09 has had a few new features added, including a check-box called Avoid saturating the skin tones, which prevents users from ruining their photos when they're playing with the levels.

Read our full review of iPhoto '09

iMovie '09

While iPhoto '09 may have got the most crowd-pleasing new features, iMovie '09 has had the most additions. First a little bit of history. With iMovie 7 (also called iMovie '08, confusingly) Apple introduced a new way of editing your video clips compared to the previous iMovie 6 HD, and was completely re-written from the ground up, making it effectively the first version of an entirely new product, rather than version 7 of an existing project.

Like most first versions it was somewhat light on features. The new way of working was certainly quicker, if all you wanted to do was make a simple movie of your last holiday, but it lacked some of the finesse, like video effects, which iMovie 6 HD was famous for. Well, the good news is that now effects are back.

You'll find old favourites like Aged Film and X-Ray on offer along with some new ones. Even more impressively, the video effects don't take any time to render, like they used to, now you simply add them to a clip and they're applied instantly.

Also making a re-appearance from iMovie 6 HD in iMovie '09 are Themes. These make it easier for you to create a great looking movie without having to know too much about titles and transitions, since they are all worked out for you. There are six themes on offer, and you simply apply the theme to your current project and iMovie puts in transitions between your clips and a great opening title. You can, of course, still edit your project and add in more theme-specific effects and transitions. You can also change your theme using the Set Theme button.

Even more eye-candy is provided by the introduction of Maps. These provide gorgeous animations of start and end points on a globe, making them ideal for your holiday movies.

Cover Flow has been added to iMovie '09, so you can browse through all your video projects as easily as you can browse through albums on iTunes. There's also support for greenscreen. Shoot something against a green background, then drop it onto a clip and it plays as an alpha channel over the top of the original clip, a bit like the background effects in iChat.

The most dramatic improvement to the way the program works though is in editing, an area that many people found fiddly in iMovie '08. Now, if you drop one clip on top of another you get a new menu with the options for Replace, Insert and Audio only. Replace replaces the original clip with the new one, while Insert splits the original clip at the point of your cursor. Insert is going to be useful, but the Audio only option is even more interesting. Using Audio only you can add just the audio from a clip to the original video. So, what used to be a lengthy process of extracting audio files from clips then adding them to others is now a simple case of drag and drop.

iMovie '09 is a lot easier to work with in other areas. Instead of all the confusing array of different buttons that appear on a clip in iMovie 7, like trim, fine tune, crop, audio adjustment and video adjustment, there's now only one button to press on each clip, which gives you access to an Actions menu that contains all these choices plus the new Precision Editor.