Jaguar, next major Mac OS X update coming this summer

As expected Apple CEO Steve Jobs previewed the next major version of Mac OS X, code-named Jaguar, during his Worldwide Developer Conference keynote today. Due by summer's end, Jaguar will sport a handwriting technology dubbed Inkwell, an iChat instant messenger client, QuickTime 6 integration and more.

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"Jaguar is packed with incredible new features that Mac OS X users are going to love, including our iChat instant messaging software," Jobs said. "Jaguar takes the world's highest-volume UNIX-based operating system to the next level, adding amazing new technologies never before seen in any operating system."

The long-rumored Inkwell technology will let Mac users enter text using a pen in any application that accepts text. In talking of Inkwell, Jobs joked that finally Apple had gotten something out of all the technology it had invested in the Newton handheld device that never caught on with the general public.

iChat is a new AIM-compatible instant messaging software that's built into Mac OS X and integrated with the new Mail and Address Book applications. It's compatible with AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), America Online's instant messaging community that has over 150 million registered users. Jobs said it would allow seamless instant messaging between Mac.com members, AOL members and AIM users. Mac users can use their existing Mac.com names with iChat or get a free Mac.com name quickly if they don't already have one, he said.

"We're very excited about bringing Mac users into the broader AOL community with the first fully compatible integration of another user base with AIM and AOL Buddy List users," said Bob Pittman, Chief Operating Officer-elect of AOL Time Warner, in a statement. "This will make it possible for Mac users to communicate within our network using their existing Mac.com identities. We look forward to working together with Apple on other innovative offerings."

The Mac OS X version of iChat will purportedly let users quickly see and change their online status and communicate with buddies from the menu bar. What's more, the Mail application in Mac OS X will show the online status of buddies, so users can turn e-mail exchanges into real-time chats. In addition, the new system-wide Address Book will manage buddy information including name, handle and photo along with the rest of their contact information.

iChat uses "dialogue bubbles" and buddy photos to present instant messages in a graphically conversational manner. iChat invitations pop on the screen using transparency and animation effects. Users will also be able to automatically discover and chat with other iChat users on their local Ethernet or AirPort networks, according to Apple.

QuickTime 6 and QuickTime Broadcaster will be integral parts of Jaguar. Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, said that by combining QuickTime 6 with the free QuickTime Streaming Server and QuickTime Broadcaster, "Apple delivers the world's first complete media solution for creating, streaming and viewing MPEG-4 content."

He said that key features of QuickTime 6 -- which is completed but not released due to MPEG-4 licensing issues -- include: a video codec for encoding and decoding MPEG-4 video content; Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), the next generation audio format; adherence to the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) 1.0 specification; MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 playback, which is ideal for content creators who wish to preview and share work throughout the production process; DVC Pro (PAL) support; an updated user interface for easier access to QuickTime content; and skip protection enhancements.

Jaguar will also come with Rendezvous, Apple's proposed new industry standard for automatic discovery of computers, devices and services on IP (Ethernet, AirPort) networks. In other words, the technology will let Macs automatically recognize other computers on a wired or wireless network and share files with each other or, theoretically, with other digital devices. In his keynote, Jobs demoed streaming music files off of another Mac connected through an AirPort network.

The next major rev of Mac OS X will also offer big changes to the Finder, such as spring-loaded folders and new instant searching. It will come with Sherlock 3, a major revision to Apple's Internet search and services engine. Quartz Extreme will be a hardware accelerated Quartz graphics and compositing engine. Jaguar will also come with: Unix Tools, "the latest Unix advancements," including FreeBSD 4.4 updates, the new GCC 3 compiler, IPv6 and IPSec; and Windows Support, for increased compatibility with Windows networks with SMB browsing and sharing as well as built-in PPTP VPN security.

Jobs also announced that since the September preview of Mac OS X version 10.1, the number of native Mac OS X applications from developers such as Adobe, Microsoft, Corel, Macromedia, MathWorks, Oracle and Sybase have more than doubled to over 3,000. And since March 2001, the appeal of Mac OS X has led to more than 100 percent growth in Apple's developer community, he added.

Apple says that over 46 percent of Apple Developer Connection members are Unix or Java programmers. Over three million Macs with Mac OS X have shipped to date, making Apple the number one supplier of Unix-based systems in the world, Apple says.

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