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A Slew of Apple Software Updates

We weren’t the only ones in a mad rush toward the end of the year, and Apple’s engineers will probably be enjoying their holiday breaks more after shipping a variety of updates. They include Mac OS X 10.3.2, iTunes 4.2, QuickTime 6.5, and Battery Update 1.1.

Most awaited of the updates is Mac OS X 10.3.2, which promises improved file sharing and directory services for mixed Mac and PC networks, more robust printing to PostScript printers, improved font management, updates to Mail and Address Book, and new ATI and Nvidia graphics drivers. Apple offers an expanded change list. Improvements in 10.3.1 and recent security updates are also bundled in for anyone who hasn’t already gotten those. Unfortunately, Apple says nothing about the problems users experienced with FireWire 400 hard drives in Panther, merely reiterating the note from 10.3.1 that says users with FireWire 800 drives should still upgrade their drives’ firmware. Mac OS X 10.3.2 is available in Software Update as a 38.2 MB download; it’s also available separately as a 36.4 MB download.

iTunes 4.2 appears to be a fairly minor release, primarily adding support for signing into the iTunes Music Store from an AOL account. You can now view the iTunes Music Store in a separate window (useful for checking to make sure you don’t already own a particular song), and iTunes 4.2 also reportedly features a number of performance improvements. iTunes 4.2 is a 6.4 MB download from Software Update; it requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later, with Mac OS X 10.2.4 or later necessary to share music. In related news, Apple and AOL announced that AOL members can now preview, purchase, and download songs available on AOL Music by clicking an iTunes button next to featured tracks, a move that can only help iTunes Music Store sales, which topped 25 million songs just a few days ago.

QuickTime 6.5, an 18.2 MB download from Software Update, enables creation and playback of 3GPP2 and AMC "mobile multimedia" formats, improves text track support and DV playback options, and enhances support for iMovie, iDVD, and Final Cut Pro. QuickTime 6.5 requires Mac OS X 10.2.5 or later.

Lastly, owners of white iBooks and aluminum PowerBooks will see Battery Update 1.1 appear in Software Update as a 520K download (it’s also available as a 160K standalone installer). Battery Update 1.1 claims to enhance the performance of the battery to ensure that full capacity is available. One user on TidBITS Talk reported significantly increased fan activity after installing Battery Update 1.1 and Mac OS X 10.3.2, but there’s no additional information or confirmation of that yet. If you download and install the update manually, it alerts you if it’s not necessary for your computer; relying on Software Update is probably easiest.

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