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AOL Hits Mac OS X

Targeting the growing number of consumers using Mac systems at home, America Online released a new AOL for the Mac OS X, offering a number of Mac-tailored features.

With Mac users well acquainted to waiting months for features after release to their PC counterparts, AOL may bring a smile to some with a number of Mac-first features, in addition to upgrades already available in their latest PC release.

"We've listened to what our members who use Macs want, focused on the features they use most, and taken a number of steps to make AOL's convenience and ease-of-use more fully integrated into the Mac environment," said David Gang, Executive Vice President of AOL's Product Marketing Group.

Among the new Mac-first features, AOL has integrated the Gecko Web browser, Netscape's updated version of its core browser, with support for open Internet standards such as HTML 4.0, CSS, XML, W3C Document Object Model, JavaScript, among others.

While the browser has already made an appearance in AOL 7.0, it is fully integrated into the Mac release.

The new version also offers Mac users improved access to their accounts over the Web. A number of features, in addition to email, can now be accessed over the Web from any computer, including Buddy Lists, Address Books, among others.

For IM happy Mac users, used to Apple's iChat, AOL has added compatibility, allowing for instant messaging between Mac.com members, as well as standard AIM users. A new message counter that displays the number of new e-mails and instant messages on the AOL icon in the Mac OS X Dock when members are connected to the service is also available.

According to Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations, the company is pleased with AOL's adaptations for the new OS, particularly the company's new User Interface, which offers aesthetically refined use of color, transparency, and animation.

"AOL Mac users will enjoy the enhancements made to this latest version of AOL for Mac OS X that take advantage of the core features of the platform including the award-winning Aqua user interface and easy-to-use Dock," said Okamoto.

The company has also kept a number of the previous AOL version's features available only to the Mac platform, including the ability to play and embed sounds in an e-mail and the ability to have the text of instant messages, chat, e-mail and buttons under their cursor read aloud using built-in speech synthesis.

This new version of AOL for Mac OS X is available as an upgrade for existing members at no additional charge in the United States at AOL Keyword: Upgrade and on AOL's site.