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THE CUTTING EDGE

AOL's New Software Includes Phone Access

October 26, 2000|From Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — America Online Inc. unveiled the newest version of its AOL software Wednesday, including a new feature that allows people to get certain online information over the telephone.

With AOL 6.0, subscribers will be able to go online and program the basic information they want made available over the phone, such as stock quotes, weather forecasts and sports scores. Those subscribers will then be able to dial a toll-free number to hear the information over the phone.

"It's sort of the ultimate incarnation of our AOL Anywhere strategy, because telephones are everywhere," said Jonathan Sacks, a senior vice president and general manager for AOL.

The service will be available free for about six months; after that, AOL will charge a small fee in addition to its monthly subscription charge, Sacks said.

AOL, which said this week that it had reached the 25-million-subscriber mark, was not the only Internet service provider to show off a new look. Microsoft released its new MSN service Wednesday.

The new AOL, as does the new MSN, also revamps its instant message service. Sacks said changes were designed with teenagers in mind because they are the most prodigious users of the product. The new AOL allows users to send about 110 icons, such as smiley faces and flowers, with their text messages.

There are other technical improvements, Sacks said. AOL 6.0 will instantly find files downloaded from the Internet; before, a file was loaded onto the hard drive, where a user might have difficulty finding it.

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