Apple has announced QuickTime 5 and QuickTime Streaming Server 3, the newest versions of its streaming-media player and server solutions.

Also at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event in Las Vegas, the company is demonstrating a preview version of QuickTime that integrates support for MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoding and decoding.

Only the US English version of QuickTime 5 is currently available, but Apple sources confirmed that versions for other-language operating systems are scheduled for release in May. QuickTime Streaming Server 3 will also be released in May.

"QuickTime has been long established as the digital-media standard for capturing, encoding and delivering content on the Internet," said Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “QuickTime 5 offers incredible new capabilities for everyone who creates or views multimedia content.”

The user interface has been enhanced, with new audio controls, a Hot Picks guide and a QuickTime TV browser. The DV codec has been improved and a component downloader has been added. The downloader acquires Apple's enhancements as well as third-party plug-ins. The application also supports 360-degree VR panoramas, Flash 4 and MPEG-1.

Other features include customizable 'skins' – allowing users to adjust the appearance of their player to suit their aesthetic needs, enhanced AppleScript support and a much-improved built-in music synthesizer. The application supports over 200 kinds of digital media formats.

The server has been enhanced with Skip Protection, a collection of features that preserve streaming quality. The server also offers a brand-new Web-based interface that can be administrated locally or remotely to configure network settings.

The US English version of QuickTime 5 is available for download today.