Apple has announced that the next version of its OS X operating system, called "Tiger," will go on sale on Friday, April 29. While Im still waiting for the final code, Ive seen a number of demos of the new system, and it certainly looks impressive.
Tigers big news is a desktop-search system called Spotlight. The demos Ive seen show a very good-looking user interface for searching all the files on your system using their content and metadata. This lets you easily find information on your system—in an e-mail, address book, files, or wherever—very quickly and simply. Though there have been a number of individual utilities that do this on the Mac and PC, building it into the operating system means that other applications can take advantage of it, and that the results change whenever your files do.
Microsoft has been talking about a similar feature for some time (its now slated for Longhorn), but Apple should be crowing about getting this out before Microsoft. It looks very good.
Tiger also has a new set of widgets (or accessories) that includes notepads, calculators, and apps for collecting Web data such as flight information, stock quotes, and weather updates. Collectively called Dashboard, these tools can be hidden or displayed on the desktop with a single keystroke.
In many respects, it reminds me of a more modern version of Sidekick. Because Dashboard is based on standard Web technologies, Apple expects it will be easy for developers to create new widgets.
Other enhancements include a new Automator for building scripts that automate various applications and tasks.
The iChat application now supports a new video codec for better picture quality. It also lets you create video conferences with up to four people, something you cant do in any of the standard IM clients on Windows.