Apple plans to ship a version of its Safari Web browser for Windows, and third-party developers will be able to get a piece of the iPhone, the company announced Monday.
A beta version of Safari for Windows is available now, CEO Steve Jobs announced during his keynote speech at the company's 2007 Worldwide Developers Conference. Safari will also allow Web developers to create applications for the iPhone using common Web development standards that can interact with the rest of the applications that will ship with the iPhone.
Jobs previewed several features that will be shipped with Leopard, the next version of Mac OS X, which is due in October for $129. But the Safari news was unexpected; the software became available Monday on Apple's Web site for Windows users as a free beta version.
Apple has only a 5 percent share of the browser market, behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, but Jobs reckons that allowing Windows users to download the browser will help boost market share the same way that making iTunes available for Windows users helped that application.
The new version, Safari 3, is also the key to allowing application developers to create third-party applications for the hotly anticipated iPhone, which is set to go on sale at 6 p.m. on June 29, Jobs announced (an Apple representative could not immediately confirm whether that was 6 p.m. Pacific time or Eastern time, or whether it would be rolling launch). The pitch is that developers can create Web applications using Web 2.0 standards like Ajax that will work just as well as applications that Apple has written natively for the iPhone.
Applications designed with the iPhone in mind will run in a Safari browser on the phone with hooks into other applications, such as voice calling, e-mail and Google Maps.
Scott Forstall, vice president of iPhone software development, demonstrated a sample application that Apple built to access contacts in a corporate database. Clicking on a phone number in a contact record, for example, would automatically dial that contact.
This gives application developers a path to the iPhone, but it falls short of the software development kit that some were hoping for that would allow developers to create native applications for the iPhone.
Jobs devoted the majority of his talk to Leopard, which was originally supposed to be available around the time of this week's WWDC but was delayed until October so that Apple could get the iPhone out on time. He showed off 10 features of Leopard that set to be additions to the operating system, including some that have been shown over the past year, such as Time Machine, Cover Flow and Boot Camp.
"We believe the Leopard features highlighted today will serve to further differentiate Macs and will help catalyze market share gains," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a research report distributed after Jobs' speech.
Leopard developers will now have the ability to create 64-bit applications specifically for Macs. They previously could create 64-bit applications for the Unix code base that's underneath Mac OS X, but Apple is now extending 64-bit support to the Cocoa development environment, allowing developers to create native 64-bit Mac OS applications, Jobs said.
Drivers for 32-bit applications will work with 64-bit applications, and vice versa, said Brian Croll, senior director of Mac OS X product marketing. Leopard can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, but Tiger users won't be able to run applications in 64 bits, he said.
Apple believes that its professional customers, graphics professionals and multimedia developers, will be able to take advantage of 64-bit applications immediately, Croll said. The biggest advantage of a 64-bit application is its ability to address large amounts of memory; 32-bit applications can only address 4GB of memory. There aren't a ton of people buying PCs with 4GB of memory or more at this point (only Apple's Mac Pro can accommodate more than 4GB), but that will probably change in the future as memory costs continue to decline and newer applications are created.
Apple focused on making the desktop easier to manage and organize with Leopard. One new feature that helps make that happen is called Stacks.
Stacks lets Mac OS X users see the files inside a folder in the dock, the row of application icons usually found at the bottom of the desktop screen, making it easier to find files without having to open a lot of application windows, Jobs said. It also works as an application launcher if the Applications folder is dragged into the dock, Jobs said.
Jobs also showed off a new version of Finder that uses the Cover Flow technology to enable Mac users to browse for files on their computers using an interface similar to the one used in iTunes for scrolling through songs or movies.
It also lets users search other computers--both Windows and Macs--connected to a local-area network, and it syncs up with Apple's .Mac service to let road warriors access the sales contract they left back on their home Mac before setting out on a trip.
Jobs also took some time at the beginning of his address to address a sore subject with many Mac fans: game support. Electronic Arts' Bing Gordon, co-founder and CTO, announced that the company is bring four popular titles (Command and Conquer 3, Battlefield 2142, Need for Speed Carbon, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) to the Mac in July.
But more significantly, he said EA would release Madden NFL 08 and Tiger Woods Golf 08 simultaneously on Macs and PCs. Mac fans have in the past complained about the delay in getting the most popular titles ported over from Windows.
Apple's stock price fell $4.30, or 3.45 percent, to close at $120.19 Monday, suggesting investors might have been hoping for something more from Jobs' on-stage presentation.
CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.