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AOL sends Communicator to Macs

America Online extends its e-mail and instant messaging account management tool to Apple Computer's Mac OS X operating system.

America Online extended on Monday its Communicator e-mail and instant messaging account management tool to Apple Computer's Mac OS X operating system.

First launched for other operating systems in August, Communicator gives AOL subscribers the ability to manage multiple e-mail, IM and address book applications through a single interface. Offered free to AOL subscribers, Communicator is one of the first applications the online giant launched that directly targets customers who are experienced with its various services. The company has traditionally tried to retain somewhat basic functionality in the name of appealing to Internet neophytes.

AOL is in the process of creating a range of applications that are aimed at so-called power users. As the company has seen a dip in its overall number of subscribers, it has increasingly attempted to cater to broadband subscribers who have more advanced tools, such as Communicator, Radio@AOL for Broadband, and My AOL Today, the company's interactive screensaver and news ticker.

AOL Communicator for Mac OS X enables people who use the Apple OS to consolidate multiple AOL screen name accounts, as well as e-mail from POP (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) servers. Whereas the original Communicator release featured an interface similar to that of Microsoft's popular Outlook e-mail application, Communicator for Mac OS X uses a customizable, three-pane window that lets people view messages without opening each individual piece of mail.

Communicator also promises AOL members an improved overall e-mail functionality, with more advanced spam-filtering capabilities and simplified management of message attachments. AOL members who use Mac OS X version 10.2 and higher can now download Communicator.

In related news, Apple said last week that the latest release of its operating system, Mac OS X version 10.3, dubbed Panther, will arrive Oct. 24. Among Panther's features the company is playing up are a new look for Finder, Apple's file-searching tool, and the introduction of Expose, an application that's designed to make it easier to find a desired window on a crowded desktop.