Apple Makes Mobile QuickTime Moves

Sources said Version 6.3 of the multimedia software will support 3GPP for wireless delivery to cell phones and PDAs.

Apple Computer Inc. is reportedly preparing to extend the reach of its QuickTime multimedia software to mobile devices. According to sources, the company this month is expected to wrap up development on QuickTime 6.3, code-named "Sidecar."

QuickTime 6.3 will be the first release to include a 3GPP component, first promised late last year. 3GPP is a new standard from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project that was developed to deliver multimedia wirelessly to cell phones and PDAs. Like QuickTime, it has strong ties to the MPEG-4 video standard.

In December 2002, Apple announced that it would release a QuickTime update in the ensuing weeks that supported creation of 3GPP content. Japans NTT DoCoMo also unveiled its Mobile MP4 i-motion service for 3G networks, using 3GPP to provide multimedia to wireless subscribers. Additionally, NTT DoCoMo announced support for Apples QuickTime-powered 3GPP content-development efforts.

Apple initially indicated that it would include 3GPP support with QuickTime 6.1, which it delivered in January. In a 3GPP fact sheet Apple released in December, the company said QuickTimes 3GPP support would include export capabilities to the .3gp file format, as well as an interface for video, audio and text settings. According to the fact sheet, supported formats for 3GPP would include the MPEG-4 and H.263 video codecs; Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) audio; and 3G Text.

Besides 3GPP, QuickTime 6.3 will boast automatic detection of streaming transport protocols, as well as DV improvements that provide better audio and video synchronization. The update will also include improved support for other Apple software: Keynote, iMovie and iDVD.

In addition, QuickTime 6.3 will include a new MIDI instrument sound set licensed from Roland Corporation, forming complete sets compatible with both General MIDI and GS Format. GS Format is similar to General MIDI but has a wider range of sound features.

In April, Apple released QuickTime 6.2, which features AAC support for iTunes 4 and other applications as well as an enhanced audio encoder for QuickTime Pro users. In February 2002 the company first announced QuickTime 6 with full MPEG-4 support, streaming enhancements and a new user interface. QuickTime Player, compatible with Mac OS X, Mac OS 9 and Windows, is a free download from Apples Web site. Pro licenses are available for $30 each.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple was not immediately available for comment.

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