AOL has been busy lately, releasing version 8.0 of its internet access software in the US and readying it for launch to the UK audience
next year. But it has also been working on a new Mac OS X-compatible version of its software, which it launched today.

This has been sometime in coming as Apple launched OS X over a year ago, but AOL hopes that now it is finally here it will allow "Mac owners [to] benefit fully from AOL's convenience and ease-of-use to get the best online experience", according to Karen Thompson, chief executive, AOL UK.

As well as offering Apple devotees all the usual features, AOL has also built in several Mac-specific features, including the integration of Netscape's Gecko web browser, compatibility with QuickTime and Apple iChat, plus support for AirPort wireless networks.

The software's appearance has also been tweaked to mimic Apple's Aqua desktop design, with luminous and semi-transparent buttons, scrollbars and windows. It adds a message counter to the Dock, which tallies new emails and AIMs (AOL instant messages).

Mac users will be the envy of their PC counterparts as only they are able to drag and drop to attach files to emails or play and embed sounds in email messages to share with other Mac users. Multiple email addresses can also be entered in a single box, but users can assign different delivery methods — to/cc/bcc — and use built-in speech synthesis to read messages aloud.

Other enhancements that have made their way to the Mac platform include support for HTML-rich pages in email; auto complete of addresses from the Address Book; and one-click action to send AIMs or email, add contacts and view web pages and member profiles. A new search feature integrates the Google engine and you can add personalised away messages to the AIM service.

AOL for Mac OS is available for download at AOL Keyword: Mac OS or, for Mac-based AOL users, Keyword: Upgrade. Alternatively, a CD can be requested by calling 0800 376 5432. All current Mac AOL users will be sent the CD automatically.