Apple's Back To Mac event featured announcements about iLife '11, FaceTime for Mac and the new MacBook Air.

Some very exciting announcements for the Mac side of the Apple world today. Here are some highlights:

iLife ’11

Long awaited update to the iLife suite is available today. It’s free with new Macs and a $49 upgrade for existing users

  • GarageBand – Interesting sounding recording and editing tools like the ability to match grooves between multiple tracks and the ability to stretch segments of individual tracks. They’ve enhanced the Learn To Play sections with new lessons and new features that help you gauge your progress as you move through tutorials.
  • iMovie – Greatly enhanced audio editing tools, including the ability to apply one-touch effects and process selected segments instead of having to apply things like normalizations to entire clips. A fun looking new addition is the ability to create Hollywood-style movie trailers from your own clips. Looks like it’s a guided process with suggestions of the types of clips to add to make an exciting creation. iMovie also adds the ability to find, but probably not recognize, faces similar to the Faces functionality in iPhoto.
  • iPhoto – The addition of more full-screen modes. Very slick new slideshows. Enhancements to the Places functions. New features and options in the creation of printed books and cards. Improvements to the email and social media sharing functions.

FaceTime

The FaceTime video conferencing functionality introduced with the iPhone 4 is now available for the Mac. So now FaceTime calls can be placed between iPhones, iPod Touches and the Mac. Setup looks very simple and is even smart enough to switch the orientation of the Mac’s video display if a caller on the other end rotates their phone or iPod between portrait and landscape.

A beta version of FaceTime for the Mac will be available from Apple’s Website today.

Mac OSX 10.7 “Lion”

The latest update for the Mac operating system will include an App Store, full screen apps, multitouch gestures and a new interface option called Mission Control to tie everything together. The new update is scheduled for release in summer 2011. Most of the changes aren’t really things that require a lot of explanation. They are enhancements to the user interface, such as auto save, resume and app switching that should make working on a Mac even easier.

Apple didn’t want to wait to open the Mac App Store, so they are actually planning to open it within 90 days. Developers are invited to start submitting apps for the new store in November. They demonstrated the interface and it looks very similar to the App Store on the iPad. Should be easy to find what you’re looking for and they’ve made installing apps on the Mac essentially a one click operation.

MacBook Air

As I said in an earlier post, I was curious to see how Apple would position the MacBook Air given the success of the iPad and the fact that both the Air and the iPad occupy a space somewhere between notebooks and mobile phones. Steve Jobs acknowledged this by joking that the new MacBook Air is essentially the love child of an iPad and a MacBook. It’s incredibly thin, boasts a 5-hour battery life, comes in two different screen sizes and has higher resolution than the current 15″ MacBooks. The new MacBook Air is available today and they start at $999.