SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday offered a crowd of developers, consultants and IT managers here a preview of Mac OS 10.4, the next version of the company's Macintosh operating system, code-named Tiger. The software is due in spring 2005, Apple managers said.
Demonstrated at the O'Reilly Media Inc.'s Mac OS X Conference here, Apple provided attendees perhaps the second up-close look at Tiger, since its premiere at Apples Worldwide Developer Conference in June.
"I know you've heard statements like this before, but this is without a doubt going to be the biggest [operating system] release for developers in Mac history, " said Apple Senior Product Line Manager Chris Bourdon during his Tiger presentation.
"The good news: It has by far the most features and capabilities than any other release. The bad news: There's a lot to learn, so it's going to take some time to get familiar with it," he said.
Bourdon described the new Apple audio/video architecture slated for Tiger: Core Audio, Core Image and Core Video. These Xcode components, built into Tigers system, will allow the system-wide addition of special effects to music, image, and film-editing applications.
For example, Core Audio supports plug-ins for such musical effects as reverb and distortion for music editing; Core Image offers hardware-accelerated real-time image processing; and Core Video provides the foundation for per-pixel programming and floating-point precision effects and transitions.
Core Video will also support the new QuickTime H.264/AVC, codec that will provide advanced compression technology for video. Based on the open-source H.264 code, this component "scales video from cell-phone size up to and including high-definition video," Bourdon said. "It really provides high-quality video at small-data rates."
Three frontline features in Tiger are a system-wide search utility called Spotlight; a version of the Mac OS X browser, Safari, that supports RSS (Real Simple Syndication); and the new Automator scripting environment.
The new internal search engine, which categorizes everything in a computer and uses metadata for seek and discovery, uses some familiar Apple software—the iTunes music storage and cataloging system—as a foundation, Bourdon said. Attendees commented that the functionality is similar to Google Inc.'s Desktop Index internal search engine, now in beta release.
With Tiger's Safari RSS, users will be able to incorporate RSS feeds from news organizations, Web logs, and other community sites into personal or corporate Web sites. Safari RSS also allows searching across all feeds, provides bookmarks for types of searches, and can synchronize such news feeds through numerous applications and devices, including desktop computers and handheld devices, such as iPods and cell phones.
With Safari RSS, users will be able to locate the latest news stories on specific topics by searching preconfigured listings, instead of surfing random Web sites. Safari RSS will also allows users to archive Web pages; and complete Web pages can be e-mailed with all images and links intact.
Meanwhile, the Automator scripting application will allow "anybody to do anything they want to do with their computer, without having to do any programming," said Sal Soghoian, AppleScript product manager.
In a subsequent presentation Tuesday, Apple Senior Product Line Manager Wiley Hodges explained advances in the Xcode 2.0 development tool. He said that the tools were custom-designed for the new features in Tiger.
Hodges said that Xcode 2.0, like Safari Search, took some tips from the iTunes user interface.
"Were looking at the best features of iTunes and are leveraging them in Xcode 2.0," Hodges said. "For example, the UI really is copied from iTunes; it looks just like it, with smart groups on the left side, descriptions on the right, and a ubiquitous search field on every page. iTunes manages lots of files and metadata very well; we might as well use it."
"In fact, were working on the new iTunes operating system, which we hope will be available some day," he said, tongue firmly in cheek.
Xcode 2.0 is designed to "shrink turnaround time—that's the biggest mandate we got from the developer community," Hodges said. The new tool also "can gather up your information through functional view of your code, instead of a conventional file system. This results in much finer-grain data."
"For example, you can collect all errors and warnings from your last build, and bookmark the metadata for future use. That is, if you have any errors and warnings in your code," he continued.
Xcode 2.0 also features "predictive compile," which complies the code in the background. "It may not actually be faster, but it improves your perception of speed," he said.
Perhaps the best of the new features, Hodges said, is its new "fix and compile" attribute, which makes changes to the application while its running in the debugger.
"Now, you might not believe this is possible, but it is kind of magic," Hodges said. "There are some caveats; for example, you can't change or update globals, and you need to build Xcode data targets. But it does work."