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Apple Previews Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger"

Apple Previews Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger"

by , 3:00 PM EDT, June 28th, 2004

Apple today previewed the forthcoming release to its Mac OS X operating system, Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The update, slated to ship in the first half of 2005, incorporates 150 new features, including new ways to find files and other information, integrated RSS feeds in Safari, a new widget system, an updated iChat with improved video quality, and more. From the press release

Spotlight is Apple’s new lightning fast way to find any file, document or information created by any application on the Mac. Much like users can instantly find songs in iTunes by their name, artist or album, Spotlight enables users to instantly find just about anything—including emails, presentations, images, appointments and Microsoft Office documents—then automatically organizes and displays the results by kind, time or people. Spotlight technology also powers Smart Folders in the Finder™, Smart Mailboxes in Mail and Smart Groups in Address Book that work like Smart Playlists in iTunes to automatically keep a user's information organized and updated.

Safari RSS, a new version of Apple’s acclaimed web browser uses the emerging RSS Internet standard to provide instant access to the most current information from leading sites such as The New York Times, BusinessWeek and the BBC. Safari RSS automatically discovers an RSS enabled site and displays a special icon, which when pressed instantly transforms Safari into a full featured RSS reader displaying the discovered RSS feed. With Safari RSS, users can easily create their own personal news clipping service with up to the minute information from several RSS feeds merged into one easy-to-read interface.

Dashboard offers users instant access to a new class of accessory applications called “Widgets.” Built on Apple’s Expose technology introduced in Panther, Dashboard provides fingertip access to everyday tools and information such as stock quotes, webcams, calendars and calculators. Tiger includes several Widgets and provides a rich developer environment for developers to extend Dashboard with third party Widgets.

iChat in Tiger supports the new industry standard H.264 video codec for dramatically better picture quality with no increase in bandwidth. In addition, the new iChat adds multi-way audio and video conferencing, so that users can audio conference with up to 10 people and video conference with up to three other people using a stunning new 3D interface.

Additional new features in Tiger include:

  • Core Image and Core Video provide the foundation for new image and video processing applications, building on the success of Core Audio which is leading the next generation of innovative audio application development;

  • QuickTime® support for the next-generation MPEG-4 video codec H.264 delivers incredible scalability across the entire bandwidth spectrum, from 3G mobile media to High Definition broadcast and beyond;

  • Tiger can natively run 64-bit processes for database, engineering and scientific applications to take advantage of the increased performance unleashed when accessing massive amounts of memory while still running side-by-side with existing 32-bit applications;

  • .Mac Sync using a completely new Sync engine in Tiger ensures that .Mac subscribers can synchronize their contacts, bookmarks, email preferences and calendar across multiple machines;

  • Automator, an innovative easy-to-use application that automates simple, complex, or repetitive tasks without requiring the user to write scripts;

  • major advances to the open standards UNIX-based foundation including an updated state-of-the-art kernel with improved SMP scalability, 64-bit virtual memory, modernized network services and Xgrid, Apple's easy-to-use distributed computing software;

  • improved Windows compatibility that uses powerful open standards-based networking technologies to make it even easier for Mac OS X users to access a Windows-based home directory and authenticate against Microsoft’s Active Directory; and

  • Xcode™ 2, the latest version of Apple’s powerful suite of developer tools, designed to make it even easier and faster to build innovative Mac OS X applications.

Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" will be available in the first half of 2005 with a suggested retail price of US$129. For more information on the new release, visit Apple's Mac OS X "Tiger" page.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Developers in attendance at the WWDC were very impressed with the new technologies and tools built into Mac OS X. Video Units, Image Units, Spotlight, the new iChat version, Safari RSS, the .Mac SDK...all of these announcements were greeted warmly by the packed hall. As we noted in our live coverage, the hall was packed to capacity, with people standing up in the back of the auditorium. Steve Jobs and the other presenters definitely scored a hit with those people.

Will Tiger score the same kind of success with consumers come next year? Maybe. As usual, we are perturbed that Apple is charging full price, yet again, for an OS release, but our concerns on the same issue last year did not resonate with Mac users; Steve Jobs says that Panther is the most successful OS Apple has ever released. Frankly, it is very likely that Tiger will score the same kind of success. iChat AV and Spotlight are likely to particularly appeal to consumers, as will Automater. Based on the strengths of those products, and the other new features built into Tiger, demand for the OS should be strong, full priced or no.

Also, as this is to be the last of the yearly updates, or nearly-yearly updates in this case, Tiger will have even more appeal for many users. We have long felt that Apple's schedule of yearly major releases fragmented the market, and Tiger should bring some unification back to the platform.

All in all, Tiger seems impressive, at least at first blush.

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