Apple has made its popular Homepage iTool more powerful and easier-to-use. The company also claims to have increased iDisk speeds by up to three times.

The new HomePage - one of Apple’s four Internet iTools available free of charge for Mac OS 9 users - features a simpler user interface that allows greater personalization of pages with more design templates, according to Apple.

"Apple’s new HomePage Web tool is so easy to use that anyone can create their own professional-looking Web site within minutes for free, even first-time Web surfers," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide product marketing.

"New professionally designed templates and innovative drag-&-drop editing make HomePage the easiest and best way to create an online photo album, post a resume or share an iMovie with your family and friends."

HomePage’s more intuitive user-interface features Mac OS X-like Aqua design elements, as well as more templates for designing Web pages featuring personalized photo albums, movie theatres, family newsletters, and resumes. A new image library offers hundreds of high-resolution, premium quality images to decorate and personalize a Web page.

Enhanced editing capabilities for drag-&-drop organization of photo albums, and "single-click" text editing within a web page are also included.

A new file-sharing template for publishing the contents of an iDisk Public Folder to the Web – giving all Internet users access to the files saved there – is another new feature of HomePage.

iDisk speeds improved Apple also claims that iDisk performance has been increased by as much as three times for most users. The company is also now offering up to 400MB additional iDisk storage on an annual subscription basis (US$1 per megabyte extra). All iTools users automatically get 20MB of free personal Internet-based storage hosted by Apple’s Internet servers.