QuickTime 5 Preview Available -- Apple unveiled a public preview release of QuickTime 5 for the Mac OS at the QuickTime Live conference in Los Angeles - although the preview is usable only by folks who upgraded to QuickTime Pro. QuickTime 5 features a player with a revamped interface; although not much seems to commend it over the little-loved QuickTime Player which debuted with QuickTime 4, the QuickTime 5 Player does offer developer support for alternative interface "skins," so perhaps a usable player interface isn't a lost cause. The QuickTime 5 Player does have new audio controls plus a QuickTime TV channel organizer, and "Hot Picks" designed to highlight specific online QuickTime content. QuickTime 5 now supports Flash 4 and Shoutcast, along with new Apple-developed "skip protection" techniques which (when coupled with Apple's streaming media servers) are designed to reduce or eliminate the gaps and stutters associated with streaming media - we'll believe it when we see it. QuickTime 5 includes an enhanced built-in synthesizer which supports DLS and SoundFonts, and supports both Sorensen Video 3 and immersive 360 degree virtual environments via Cubic VR. QuickTime 5 also rolls in improved video editing and playback support for applications like iMovie and Final Cut Pro, and includes a new component download feature so developers can have QuickTime download any add-ins needed to play back their custom content. The QuickTime 5 public preview is a 10 MB download and requires a PowerPC-based system with at least System 7.5.5 and 32 MB of RAM. The preview is currently available only for U.S. system software and requires a valid QuickTime Pro registration. Apple says a preview release for Windows should be available by the end of the year; QuickTime 5 is currently expected to ship in early 2001. As always, using pre-release software may carry significant risks, so back up early and often.
Apple also introduced a public preview of QuickTime Streaming Server 3 that runs on the Mac OS X Public Beta; the open source Darwin Streaming Server 3 runs on Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, and Windows NT/2000. [GD]