Mac OS X Tiger to Ship April 29

Apple Computer today announced the ship date for its next-generation operating system, Mac OS X Tiger. The operating system, which the company says includes hundreds of enhancements, will be available to customers on April 29 at special events held at the company's retail locations and authorized retailers. Preorders for Tiger are being taken today at the online Apple Store--Tiger will cost $129.

In addition to the single license available for $129, Apple is also offering a Mac OS X Tiger Family Pack, a single-residence, five-user license that will be available for $199. The Mac OS Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchase a qualifying new Mac system on or after April 12, for a shipping and handling fee of $9.95. Tiger requires a minimum of 256MB of memory and is designed to run on any Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G5, G4, or G3 processor and built-in FireWire.

Spotlight on Spotlight

The most talked-about new feature of Mac OS X Tiger is, without a doubt, Apple's desktop search technology, Spotlight. The new search allows the user to search files, e-mail, contacts, images, calendars, and applications, as well as any other file on the hard drive. Search results are displayed as you type and change dynamically as new documents are added to the hard drive.

Spotlight doesn't just search the file names, it also searches the meta-data, including the kind of content, author, edit history, format, size, and other details. Most documents, images, and e-mail already contain rich meta-data. Spotlight also indexes the content of a document, displaying results based on what appears inside a file or document, not just its title.

Using a separate Spotlight window, it is possible to sort results by date or category. Searching for a particular person in Spotlight will not only bring up their contact information, but also authored or edited documents, images they have e-mailed, messages they wrote, and messages you sent to them.

Other Features

Billed as "Expose for Widgets," Dashboard contains mini-applications that provide dedicated features and functions. Widgets also take advantage of OpenGL-based graphics and effects, giving smooth transitions when adding a widget or changing options.

For example, widgets that have been demonstrated by Apple CEO Steve Jobs include currency conversion, yellow pages, EBay auction tracking, and weather reports. Other widgets include flight information, a tile game, sticky notes, a world clock, a translation tool, a calculator, an address book, an ITunes controller, a dictionary, a stock tracker, and ICal.

And Apple is making it easy for users of its homegrown Safari Web browser to track Web sites through RSS feeds. When you navigate to a site that contains an RSS feed, Safari will show a button in the address bar; clicking the button shows a summary of new items on that Web site. The RSS feed can be bookmarked and configured to automatically check for updates at a specified interval.

Compatible with RSS 0.9, RSS 1, RSS 2, and Atom, Safari RSS allows you to sort feed results by date, title, or source. A built-in search box also lets you enter keywords to read just the news you are interested in.

Sharing too much personal information on a public or home computer is becoming more of a concern, but with Safari's new private browsing feature, Internet surfers have a new way to cover their tracks from prying eyes. With the private browsing feature, Safari doesn't save or cache any information about where you visit on the Web, personal information you enter, or pages you visit.

Safari's built-in parental controls allow parents to specify exactly which Web sites children access by bookmarking only those sites on the Safari Bookmarks bar. With Safari controls enabled, kids can browse only the sites in the Bookmarks bar. New Web addresses typed into the address field or nonapproved sites linked from approved sites will not load on Safari.

Using the PDF engine built into Mac OS X Tiger, Safari can now display PDF documents inside a browser window. So, clicking on a linked PDF on the Web will no longer download it to your desktop, instead displaying it in a Safari window. You still have the option to save the PDF by clicking Save from the File menu.

Mail Changes

Apple's included Mail application features many enhancements, including the use of Spotlight's search technology to make Smart Mailboxes. These mailboxes dynamically fill themselves with e-mail based on the criteria you enter.

Mail also includes a new twist on viewing images within e-mail messages. While Mail has been able to display inline images, Apple has added a slide-show capability, so inline images are shown in full-screen mode, complete with effects.

ISync and Mail now work closely together, as settings can now be synced to your .Mac account. New accounts, changing or new rules and accounts will all be synced and made available to other Macs listed in your account.

Synchronizing information from your computers to .Mac has become much more centralized in Tiger. Sync and .Mac information is now built-in to the Mac OS system preferences, making the sync process integrated with many of Apple's applications.

Apple applications that will sync include Safari, ICal, Address Book, Keychain, and Mail--including multiple Mail accounts, Mail rules, signatures, and Smart Mailboxes. Developers can also incorporate syncing into their applications as Apple makes sync services available systemwide.

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