Apple Computer, Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) has released its new Mac OS 9 operating system, featuring a search engine that is designed for personalized online shopping.
OS 9’s “Sherlock 2” allows shoppers to find products, compare prices and availability and participate in online auctions, which are rapidly becoming one of the Web’s most widely used attractions.
Apple is touting Sherlock 2’s ability find the best deals on consumer products and locate hard-to-find items such as out-of-print books. The user is able to select the shopping plug-ins desired, add them to their own Shopping Channel and expedite the shopping experience.
Apple is banking on the mass appeal of the system that has a suggested retail price of $99 (US$), and is already widely available coast-to-coast in such name retail locations as Sears and CompUSA.
The New OS
Apple has been tight-lipped as to why the new system is being released, but users have complained about the original Sherlock for some time. The major complaint had to do with the lack of search sets to manage the hundreds of Sherlock plug-ins now available.
Apple borrowed from QuickTime 4.0’s interface and now is able to offer Sherlock 2 with sets for news, looking up people and comparison shopping. The results window will now have contextual columns. For example, shopping results will have a price column, and various results will include relevance rankings.
The focus of OS 9 seems to be streamlining what already exists. For example, “Keychain” allows users with several accounts scattered around the Internet that require passwords for access to use their “voiceprint” or typed password to unlock all the passwords simultaneously.
Still, some users’ main priority is security, a concern that OS 9 addresses with encryption of files. Another handy feature is OS 9’s auto updating, which enables the system to periodically download and install updates.
The Personal Touch
All together, Apple says that OS 9 has more than 50 new features, the majority of which are aimed at allowing the user to personalize the system. With current research repeatedly indicating that online shoppers want their experience to be more personalized, Apple appears to be bowing to the trend.
Among the personal options, users of the new operating system are able to decide what icons they want for their custom channels. With a drag and drop functionality, users select images and create the icons. Voice activation is available for many functions, with the user’s voice serving as the password.