Update spate includes iTunes, OS X, QuickTime

In addition to major updates to both iLife and iWork suites, Apple released several other minor software updates Tuesday, highlighted by changes to its iTunes music jukebox software and Mac OS X itself.

Mac OS X 10.4.4 includes fixes for the following: SMB/CIFS and NFS network file services; Bluetooth wireless access; Core Graphics, Core Audio, Core Image, RAW camera support, including updated ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers; Spotlight indexing and searching; AppleScript, iChat, DVD Player, and Safari applications; Dashboard widgets Calendar and Stocks; and Software Update and Sync Services. The update also addresses compatibility with USB and FireWire devices and third-party applications. (For complete details, see Apple’s update page.)

In addition, OS X 10.4.4 includes several new widgets introduced by Steve Jobs during Tuesday’s Expo keynote. The new widgets include a Google search tool, an ESPN sports scores and news widget, a white pages service, a ski conditions report, an updated calendaring widget, and a widget that works with Apple’s Address Book application.

iTunes 6.0.2, which Apple says includes “stability and performance improvements over iTunes 6.0.1,” adds Intel compatibility as well as a few feature called the MiniStore (pictured below). Turned on by default, the MiniStore takes up space at the bottom of the main iTunes window when you’re in your library or a playlist, displaying iTunes Music Store links to the selected song’s album, others albums by the same artist, and albums purchased by listeners to that song or artist.

iTunes update

If the selected song is not recognized by iTunes, the MiniStore shows new releases, today’s top songs and albums, and more. Users who find the MiniStore distracting can disable the feature by clicking on an icon in the lower right corner of iTunes.

While technically part of the iLife ’06 suite, iTunes remains a free download for both Mac and Windows users.

Apple also released QuickTime 7.0.4, which adds iLife ’06 support along with bug fixes and H.264 performance improvements.

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