Apple's desktop search feature, Spotlight, will "change the way you interact with your computer", and the launch of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on Friday will give Mac users a good reason to feel smug.

While other desktop search applications have appeared in recent months, including Google, Yahoo and MSN, Apple's senior director software product marketing Brian Croll is not concerned about the competition. He told Macworld: "There are other desktop search facilities out there, but they are built as applications, this is built into the operating system."

Croll believes that Spotlight is "really going to change the way you interact with your computer". He told Macworld: "It's a new way of organising your system."

"Good enough to lick"

Time praises a number of new features in Tiger, including Dashboard, particularly for its Widgets, "each of which materialize on your desktop with a soothing ripple effect and look good enough to lick". While the magazine suggests "Widgets is a word guaranteed to excite only engineers", Apple's Croll is confident that it won't just be engineers that create Widgets. He explained: "If you can create a Web page you can create a Dashboard Widget."

Another feature not restricted to engineers is Automator, which lets you program "without the need to learn a scary computer language", says Time. Croll explained that rather than programming, Automators just need to "fill in forms".

One feature that Mac users can invite PC users to share is iChat AV, "but what they see won't be nearly as cool," says Time, suggesting: "So there's one more opportunity for Mac owners to practice their smug superiority, up close and personal".

iChat AV uses Tiger's new high-definition video technology, which "makes for the smoothest video chat yet", says Time.

iChat AV benefits from Apple's QuickTime 7, "the biggest shift for a long time in QuickTime," according to Croll. QuickTime 7 uses the H.264 codec, the same standard being used by both HD DVD and Blu-Ray formats, and therefore "guaranteed to be out there in the future", says Croll.