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Wednesday, August 02, 2006, 05:45 pm PT (08:45 pm ET)

Leopard rumor roundup: unconfirmed rumblings

Apple Computer on Monday will release plans for Leopard, a much anticipated update to its Mac OS X operating system.

Although the software has been under development for nearly two years, reports pertaining to specific feature enhancements have been few and far between.

For its part, Apple has only shed light on a couple of its plans for Leopard: primarily that the software would pack its Boot Camp dual-boot solution and be available for purchase by early 2007.

In an AppleInsider report released earlier this year, reputable sources indicated that Apple was keeping a close eye on the progress of Redmond, Wash.-based rival Microsoft Corp., which is similarly in the latter development stages of its own operating system overhaul called Windows Vista.

Maps and iChat

At the time, those sources said Apple was well aware of both Leopard's strengths when compared to Vista as well as its weaknesses. In somewhat of a catch-up effort, they said Apple had been priming a new geographical mapping solution for Leopard, as well as VoIP features for iChat. They also said Apple had thrown around the idea of releasing Leopard to market under a name other than "Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard."

In addition to those rumors, there were also others relative to plans for Apple's iCal, Spotlight and Safari application technologies. Although AppleInsider has been unable to corroborate the rumors with any degree of certainty, they're worth a quick review if for nothing more than the sake of discussion.

iCal

In what would be a broad expansion of the calendar software's internet sharing abilities, it was rumored that the next version of iCal would adopt features reminiscent of third party meeting maker software applications.

The enhanced functionality would presumably allow users to schedule meetings, keep prioritized to-do lists, and coordinate schedules with other users over the Internet or a local network.

Spotlight

On the search front, Apple was rumored to be expanding the reach of its meta data-based Spotlight technology to not only scour a user's local volumes, but also the Internet's largest search engine (Google) and retail store (Amazon).

Safari 3.0

Assuming the reports are accurate, Apple's plans also call for Spotlight to be tied into the next version of the company's Safari web browser. There, it was rumored the technology would play an instrumental role in a new feature that would allow users to group web sites into search channels. Users would then be able to perform web searches across a predefined set of web sites, such as "Apple news" or "Sports."

Other rumors surrounding Safari 3.0 included a new tab-based bookmarks management interface and the ability to save and later search through web histories.

Leopard preview next Monday

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, along with several other Apple executives, will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote preview of Mac OS X “Leopard” on Monday, August 7, 2006, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at San Francisco’s Moscone West.