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Apple peels off developer products

Apple Computer underscored CEO Gil Amelio's turnaround speech with a tidal wave of announcements aimed at developers.

At its Worldwide Developer Conference today in San Jose, California, Apple Computer today underscored CEO Gil Amelio's turnaround speech for the company with a tidal wave of announcements aimed at its development community.

The plans focused on making the Macintosh an advanced Internet and communications platform through development tools for adding Web links, speech recognition, and other capabilities to desktop applications. The company also significantly expanded its overall presence on the Internet, opening a number of new Web sites dedicated to various Apple technologies.

Among today's announcements:

--Taking a page from Microsoft, Apple delivered to developers a suite of software that provides a common user interface for Internet services--such as FTP, Web browsing, and Usenet news--from within the operating system instead of a stand-alone browser. CyberDog 1.0, which will be available as a consumer product later this year, allows Mac users to drag and drop Web addresses onto the Mac desktop as well as link to the Internet through OpenDoc-compliant applications. The first show of support for Cyberdog came from Macromedia, which announced that it will create a version of its popular Shockwave plug-in for playing multimedia content over the Net that will work with the CyberDog suite.

--Apple also posted the latest release of its OpenDoc Software Development Kit on the Internet, which features QuickStart Components, a collection of QuickDraw 3D, QuickTime, and other components for developers. The new OpenDoc 1.0.4 SDK also includes OpenDoc Development Framework (ODF) Release 1, a set of source code and specifications for creating Internet components that work with CyberDog and other OpenDoc applications.

--Apple announced another software development kit, called Speech Recognition Manager, that will allow developers to add speech recognition capabilities to Mac applications, including Web browsers so that users will be able to navigate the Internet through voice commands instead of keyboard strokes and mouse clicks. The Speech Recognition Manager SDK is available on the Internet for free downloading.

--The company shipped a new version of its Essential Tools Objects (ETO) development tools product, a subscription-based CD-ROM for creating, debugging, and testing Mac software. Apple has also cut prices on ETO release 20, charging $195 for the New Subscriber Package compared to $595 for earlier releases and $125 for the Annual Subscription Renewal compared to $195.

--Apple announced QuickTime VR 2.0, a new version of the company's virtual reality software that includes a programmer's API for controlling playback of QuickTime VR panoramas, support for sound, support for embedded URLs, and improved support for 32-bit Windows 95 and Windows NT playback.

--The Newton personal digital assistant (PDA) operating system got a dose of Internet connectivity with the shipment of the beta version of Newton Internet Enabler for Newton 2.0, a suite of tools, including a TCP/IP stack for building Web, email, news, and other Internet applications. The final release of the software is scheduled for June.

--Apple previewed Cocoa, an interactive multimedia authoring tool aimed at children 10 years and above. Cocoa will include an authoring tool and plug-in player for Netscape Navigator that will allow kids to create simulations, games, and interactive worlds.

--In conjunction with third-party developers, Apple announced support for a variety of new development tools for the Mac, including Motorola's DR3.0 C/C++ SDK, Metrowerks' CodeWarrior 9, and other tools.