Pythaeus passed on some interesting information from the World-Wide Developers Conference that Apple held recently. Two of the important and somewhat related technologies that showed there (although one to a limited audience) were QuickTime 2.0 and ITV. QuickTime 2.0 sounds as though it will significantly raise the bar for multimedia on microcomputers, in large part due to the addition of a music track that stores music as notes rather than as sampled sound waves. The music track apparently uses a superset of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface – see TidBITS #176, #177, and #178 for detailed information on MIDI) and includes a large set of instrument types. We’ll have to wait for our sound mavens to see this to judge how effective it is, but because notes compress much better than sampled sound, QuickTime files may be able to contain far more audio information for their size. Access to the text track in QuickTime has also improved, and text can now be exported, which may make QuickTime files a usable format for electronic publishing. Also new is MPEG support, and much faster (or larger) playback screens. Overall, it sounds like QuickTime 2.0 could make some very interesting things possible.
The second new technology that hasn’t received much mention is Apple’s new television set-top box. It reportedly uses a version of the Mac OS in ROM, a special pre-release version of QuickTime 2.0, and some relatively ugly hardware. Apple is using the box in a project with what Pythaeus called "British Television" – perhaps the BBC? Anyone from the U.K. seen anything about this? So as much as Apple may be laying low in the digital convergence hoo-hah, it seems that the company is not sitting still.