Roxio is applying the finishing touches to Toast 6 Titanium, its soon-to-ship upgrade for the industry standard CD and DVD burning application.
The final product is expected to ship in the UK in early September, and will cost £69.99 (including VAT). It features a host of enhancements and usability improvements. The interface has been tweaked since version 5.
"We wanted a new product that was not a simple version upgrade," said Roxio's European communications chief Scott Marx
Roxio senior product manager Judith Brenke said: "In this release we have focused on universality, simplicity and elegance. There have been slight changes to the interface, and we have added controls for burning video to Toast 6."
The company is also bundling backup software Deja Vu with Toast, with the applications set up to allow users to configure their own personal back-up preferences through a non-confusing interface.
Toast 6 also has a Universal Audio Converter built-in, which means users can drag-&-drop nearly any audio file or iTunes track to be recorded to audio and enhanced audio CDs. This powerful feature will also accept collections of music in different formats, automatically converting these to a common format for the required burn.
Spin Doctor Roxio has also improved Toast's CD Spin Doctor application. This converts analogue input to digital files. New features include the ability to listen to music as it is recorded, better filters, support for VST plug-ins and a variety of features, such as timed recording and playback, to help users guard against bad or failed encoding. The results can be dropped into Mac user's iTunes Library.
However, the company has dropped two applications from the package – MP3 Player Audion ("because everybody now uses iTunes") and iView Media.
A new Motion Picture feature lets users transform collections of still images into slide shows, with effects like pan-&-zoom and soundtracks. The software also lets users drag-&-drop images directly from the iPhoto library. The results can be saved as Video CD, Super Video CD or DVD. The company's focus on ease-of-use led it to develop a Universal Video Converter, so users can drop different video formats, including iMovie, into Toast for burning.
Brenke added that Roxio has made its software compatible with the majority of CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-RAM devices available on the market, as well as all the internal authoring drives used in Macs.
Roxio representatives also promised several more key features that will be implemented in the final release that promise to take the software to a new level of utility. These features will be announced when the product ships.
Discussing Napster, the Roxio team explained that the company is pressing ahead with launching the service, that it already has deals with the major labels in order to do so, and that it anticipates launching in the US initially.
Like Apple, Roxio faces a copyright minefield in terms of a European launch of the service. "In the US it's easy – it's a big market, but you only need to sign one deal to distribute product in the territory," they explained. "In Europe, as every country has its own copyright system set-up – often with different limitations – the contractual process is far more complex," they explained.
Marx explained Roxio's belief – common with Apple – that such digital distribution networks will need to offer consumer-friendly ease-of-use options that equally offer protection for copyright holders.
"The average person is honest," Marx said. "Content is king, people are looking for a variety of content they cannot find in retail outlets," he agreed.
On Roxio's relationship with Apple, the team said: "We found that after Apple introduced DiscBurner as part of the OS, our sales actually increased. Because it was built-in to the OS, users grew accustomed to burning and then looked for a solution that offered wider support for more devices and increased functionality."
Marx also explained that Roxio will be shipping a Mac version of its PhotoSuite product in future. Like iPhoto, the current PC version of this offers automatic transfer from digital cameras, archiving and sharing features. It also offers PhotoDoctor, which repairs "ailing images" along with what Roxio calls "professional-level editing tools". Other features include built-in templates for greetings cards, calendars and others and built-in CD-authoring.
"Toast 6 Titanium offers users a perfect place for CD and DVD authoring, with all DVD mechanisms and formats supported by the software," Marx explained.