This week at Macworld Expo San Francisco
will be releasing a new version of Watson, an extendable application from that gives an “Aqua” user interface to a number of Internet-based services such as stock quotes, telephone lookup, and movie listings. It’s designed to be a partner for Apple’s Sherlock search engine.
The new Watson 1.1 will feature two new plug-ins: TV Listings and Package Tracker. Both follow in the Watson tradition of reducing Mac users time-to-everything on the Web, Karelia spokesperson Robb Beal told MacCentral. Additionally, Watson 1.1 will support printing, offer enhanced expandability options for third-party plug-ins, sport performance enhancements, and let unregistered users sample all plug-ins. Plus, today Karelia is launching an entirely redesigned Web site.
Watson functions much like Sherlock in that it bypasses the Web Browser for specific functionality, according to Dan Wood, creator of Watson. It’s meant to complement, not replace, your Web browser. Some tools are entirely self-contained; others integrate with your browser, letting you navigate the Mac way into an appropriate Web page, Wood added.
Watson constructs a facade over certain services, collecting them in a single Mac OS X application. Modules share a single window and are selected using a toolbar, just like the built-in System Preferences application. Newly released modules can be downloaded and installed directly from the application.
Watson comes with nine initial tools installed: eBay auction tracker, exchange rate calculator, image search assistant, movie schedules, telephone directory, recipe browser, stock tracker, Yahoo! category browser, and Zip Code lookup. Additional tools, available to registered users, are in the work, Wood said. A single-user license costs US$29. A downloadable, fully functional time-limited demo is available from Karelia Software. It works on any version of Mac OS X; a full-time Internet connection is recommended.
What’s more, new tools can be built for Watson by third-party Cocoa developers using a published API (application programming interface), and “approved” tools can be hosted by Karelia and then downloaded directly by the application.