3.0 will be the first QuickTime release to come out for the Macintosh and Windows 95/NT platforms simultaneously with the same feature sets.
The main improvement in the new version is the software's ability to handle foreign file formats, according to QuickTime product manager Mitchell Weinstock. Multimedia development programs which support QuickTime will be able to import non-QuickTime files, add media types, and export the file as a QuickTime file or in its original format, Weinstock said.
The new release will also enable developers to create interactive special effects, in which the end user's cursor can cause reactions within a movie, such as ripples across a water surface. Other features have been included in the new underlying architecture but will need front-end viewers built by third-party developers before they become available to the end user, said Weinstock.
Apple will announce more details, including third-party support, on April 8. On that day Apple vice president Ellen Hancock will deliver the keynote speech at the NAB conference.
The final version of QuickTime 3.0 will be available in May.
Meanwhile, Apple is shipping QuickTime VR 2.0 development tools to programmers this week. The tools, which help developers create panoramic images, will add support for an open C++ programming interface and embedded QuickTime movies. The QuickTime VR 2.0 player should be ready within two weeks. Apple is also planning to update the QuickTime plug-in with support for QuickTime VR 2.0 by early June, said QuickTime VR product manager Sean Safreed.