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Monday, January 24, 2005, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Apple adds Home Sync, Dictionary, Spotlight features to Tiger

Following a lull in its Mac OS X "Tiger" software seeding process that lead up to Macworld Expo, Apple Computer last week began redistributing newer builds of the next-generation operating system.

The latest builds, while seemingly fresher than those dispersed by the company late last year, do not include all the doodads featured as part of Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote presentation. The most prominent of omissions appears to be the new version of Dashboard, which in Jobs' presentation contained a sleekly remodeled interface and dock.

But eye-candy aside, the new builds—which reportedly fall in the 8A35x range—do offer some insight into the Tiger development process. Based on reports, it appears that Apple is continuing to build and add features to Tiger, although some are not yet functional.

One such feature is reportedly called "Home Sync." While little is known about the feature, a short description present from within the operating system says that Home Sync requires a 'portable home' folder. To create a 'mobile account and portable home,' Tiger then directs users to the system account preferences where an option to create and configure a mobile account should be present, but is not.

Sources speculate that Home Sync may represent the reincarnation of the long-lost 'Home on iPod' feature, but could also represent a more simplified approach to synchronizing the home directory of a desktop and laptop pair. A Home Sync menu, which appears in the Tiger menubar, contains options to set preferences or 'Sync Home Now,' but both lead to dead end within the system.

Meanwhile, it appears that with the release of Tiger, users will have to purchase a professional QuickTime 7 license to perform some previously free features such as opening a new player window. On the other hand, reports indicate that Apple is adding a basic, but built-in Dictionary/Thesaurus application, appropriately named 'Dictionary,' to Mac OS X.

Finally, at the core of Tiger is Spotlight, Apple's meta data-based search technology, which continues to see refinements and additions. The latest builds include a new preference panel designed specifically for Spotlight. Within the panel are two panes. The first pane lets users specify which categories or applications Spotlight is to search, and which it should not, while the second pane allows users to specify directories or folders that Spotlight should never search. Preferences to define Spotlight hot keys are also present.

Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" is reportedly on schedule to ship during the first half of 2005.