Confirming recent reports that the application was close to completion, Apple has announced Apple Remote Desktop 3, the third generation of its award-winning desktop management software.

The software integrates numerous improvements made possible by the release of Mac OS X 10.4, including support for Spotlight, Automator and Dashboard support.

Apple Remote Desktop 3 is a Universal application and offers "more than 50 new features", Apple claimed.

Feature-packed sysadmin tool

New features focus on improving software distribution, asset management, and remote assistance for network administrators.

"With Apple Remote Desktop 3, we've delivered powerful innovations that make it even easier and more affordable to manage Macs," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

"Great new features such as remote Spotlight searching and customised Automator actions take advantage of innovations in Tiger and make Apple Remote Desktop 3 a valuable tool for anyone managing more than one Mac."

The software can exercise Spotlight searches across multiple Tiger systems; it ships with over 30 Automator actions for easily automating repetitive sysadmin tasks; and it includes a Dashboard Widget that lets administrators monitor remote systems.

It also offers a new AutoInstall feature that administrators can use when they are installing software on mobile systems.

Remote drag-&-drop and more

Additional new features include: System Status Indicators that let administrators quickly check the overall health of multiple systems at a glance; the capacity to Power Copy files up to 11 times faster than with Apple Remote Desktop 2; remote drag-&-drop of files and folders between local and remote computers; and remote copy-paste for simple transfer of text and images between local and remote computers.

There's more: users can save and automate repetitive tasks, and can also use the Apple Remote Desktop to ensure that only licensed software is in use across the network.

This version of the software employs AES 128-bit encryption for secure communications between Apple Remote Desktop 3 and clients.

Apple Remote Desktop 3 is available immediately through The Apple Store, Apple's retail stores, and Apple authorised resellers for a suggested retail price of £199 for managing up to ten systems, and £349 for managing an unlimited number of systems.