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Apple dishes up public preview of QuickTime 5

The streaming media program for Macintosh offers new features, such as protection against video and audio skips caused by slow Internet connections.

Apple Computer on Tuesday served up a "public preview" of its QuickTime 5 streaming media program for the Macintosh, which offers new features such as protection against video and audio skips caused by slow Internet connections.

The version, available for download, includes some but not all of the features that will be included in a final version to be released early next year. A Windows "public preview" version of QuickTime 5 will be available later this year, Apple said.

Apple's time frame for QuickTime 5 appears to have shifted from when CEO Steve Jobs first demonstrated some features of the program in May.

At that time, Apple said the new version of the program would be available in the summer. Apple vice president Phil Schiller said Tuesday that Apple had always planned that the version would be a preview.

"This is that release," Schiller said in an interview.

Schiller announced the public preview at Apple's annual QuickTime Live show, which is taking place this week in Beverly Hills, Calif. At a keynote speech Tuesday morning, Schiller also announced a preview of QuickTime Streaming Server 3.

Schiller said the skip-protection feature includes an improved buffer that helps make sure lost video and audio packets get retransmitted. It also increases the buffer beyond the current 3 seconds when there is a strong connection.

Other features new to QuickTime 5 include streaming MPEG-1 video, an improvement to Apple's 3D QuickTime VR, and support for new formats such as Macromedia Flash 4 and Shoutcast. The program also offers an improved user interface and allows people to create "skins," or customized graphic overlays, for the main interface.