dcsimg
RealTime IT News

Apple Releases Tiger Developer Kit

Apple Computer developers are getting their first look at the company's next-generation operating system thanks to a starter kit released this week.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker is preparing for the release of Mac OS X 10.4x (code-named Tiger), which it anticipates should happen in the first half of 2005. The upgrade from the current version known as Panther includes 150 new features such as support for 64-bit applications and memory addressing as well as enhancements to audio, video and search.

The actual release date may be delayed by a few months -- if developers believe a rogue posting on Amazon.com. Earlier this week, Amazon's site inadvertently advertised it was taking pre-orders but was expecting a release date of June 30, 2005. The date is three months later than the original release date of March 31, 2005.

When it does appear, Tiger is expected to compete for user desktops along with major projects like Microsoft's next generation Windows OS -- codenamed Longhorn -- as alternative desktops like those offered by OpenOffice.org and Yellow Dog Linux.

The Tiger offer is open to members of Apple's Developer Connection (ADC). A subscription fee of $500 grants the member early access to Tiger software and documentation; pre-release versions of Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger and Xcode 2.0 (Apple's integrated development environment -- IDE -- for Mac OS X). The offer also includes a one-on-one engineering consultation and a DVD with engineering instruction, along with presentation slides and sample code. Apple prides itself on a developer base with 12 million OS X users and upwards of 12,000 native applications built for Panther alone.

Tiger's biggest draw is expected to be a revision to the operating system's search capabilities. Dubbed "Spotlight," the technology, which has the look and feel of iTunes, will be integrated into the taskbar with core functions slated for Apple's Finder, Mail, Address Book and System Preferences. The search itself adds more native terminology, including not only Metadata but also full content indexing.

The new OS will also allow 32-bit apps to run alongside 64 bit with LP64 support in GNU C Compiler (a high-quality C compiler released under the GPL) as well as fine grain locking Symmetric Multi-Processing, access to control lists and Apple's Xgrid application built in.

Other additions to Apple's Tiger include:

  • Improvements to Apple iChat AV platform that would allow video conferencing between four people and audio conferencing for up to 10 people with a new GUI.
  • The development of "Dashboard," an application that is being touted as "Expose' for Widgets" where individual mini-applications or portlet containers could be accessed and hidden using a function key.
  • Better synchronization with Apple's hosted .Mac service that could potentially include non-Macintosh devices.
  • A visual scripting platform called Automator with more than 100 actions built in that lets novice users build their own scripts and link workflows without having to take a course in Apple Script.
  • Addition of Core Image and Core Video to Apple's Core Audio technology, which includes real time hardware-accelerated and pixel-accurate filters, effects and transitions.
  • Tiger's Server version has also been updated with tools that make migrating from Windows-based servers easier. With the new OS, Apple said, administrators can now migrate user and group account information from an existing Windows Primary Domain Controller (PDC) (define) automatically into an Open Directory. Apple has said Tiger Server could then take over as the PDC for Windows clients and even host Windows users' home directories, group folders, roaming profiles and shared printers.

    As with previous software development kits, anyone purchasing the Tiger Early Start Kit is bound to some secrecy so as not to let too slip many of final release the features before Apple is ready to spring it on the Mac marketplace.

    CEO Steve Jobs is expected to update Apple's developers during the company's appearance at Macworld in January 2005.