Work on Apple Computer's next-generation operating system continues at an aggressive pace this month, with the specifics of several undisclosed features coming into focus via new builds of the software.
According to information passed on by well placed sources, Tiger's new Family Controls are now in place and functional. The feature—only partially implemented in previous builds and yet announced—provides administrative account holders with a set of controls to limit the functionality in some of Apple's most popular applications. In previous versions of the Mac OS X, administrators retained the ability to grant or restrict access to applications, but could not alter the individual capabilities of programs.
The Family Controls panel appears in the "Accounts" preference pane and offers configuration options for the Mac OS X Finder, Safari, iChat, and most recently Mail. The simplistic configuration panels for iChat and Mail allow instant messages and e-mail correspondences to be restricted to a specified list of screen names and email addresses. An additional Mail option appears to offer a means of moderating a user's access to e-mail messages by allowing an administrator to approve email address or messages as they arrive.
Screenshots: Family Controls; iChat Config; Mail Config; Finder Config
Configuring Safari with limitations works similarly, but takes place within the browser's preference pane rather than from inside the Account panel. Administrators simply manage a list of web sites or domain names that the user is permitted to access. Finder configuration controls remain similar to those found in Mac OS X Panther, with the addition an option to allow for supporting programs and printer administration privileges.
Tiger's account login options have also expanded with options to display an input menu on the login screen, hide password hints, and enable VoiceOver at login. Another option enables the appearance of the fast user switching menu to be customized.
Screenshots: QuickTime Pro Menu; Login Options; Platinum Mail Interface
QuickTime 6.6, which could likely turn into QuickTime 7.0 just prior to its release, has been under development alongside Tiger. With most of the technical enhancement in place, Apple has begun to integrate.
The latest builds of QuickTime Player sport a pair of handy options that will allow users to quickly share media files by publishing them to a .Mac account or through e-mail attachments. The sharing dialog for both options lets users select a file size—small, medium, or large—and then provides an export summary, including approximate file size, audio quality and expected frame-rates.
Sources also say the new version of QuickTime Player will leave all premium (QuickTime Pro) menu options visible to the non-paying user through the player's menus. Users who have not upgraded to QuickTime Pro will be able to see the Pro options, albeit grayed out and disabled.
Screenshots: QT Email Sharing; QT Web Sharing; Network Diagnostic
Tiger Early Start Kit for Developers
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is currently undergoing very limited seedings both in and outside of Apple. Earlier today, the Apple Developer Connection (ADC) launched a new Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger developer program, suggesting that more widespread distributions of the unreleased operating system are yet to come. The Tiger Early Start Kit for Developers is priced at (US)$500 and includes: a year-long ADC Select membership; pre-release versions of Tiger and Xcode 2.0; exclusive access to the latest Tiger documentation; direct, one-on-one access to Tiger support engineers; special developer discount on the latest Apple hardware; Gold Master versions of Tiger and Xcode 2.0 when available; and more. A free Tiger development training DVD is also being offered while supplies last.