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New and Improved Features

September 09, 2002|Edmund Sanders

Here's a look at some of the features in AOL's 8.0 version, scheduled for launch next month.

More personalization--Users can choose among six new welcome screens, with themes ranging from kids to nightlife. Users can select among scores of icons (or use a personal photo) to represent themselves in instant messages and pick distinct sounds (various bells, a cow's moo, etc.) to alert instant-messaging partners to their messages.

E-mail--New spam filters make it easier to block or hide bulk e-mail or e-mail from unknown senders. An e-mail sender can be added to an address book with one click. Automatic messages alert senders when users are away or unable to respond. There is no forwarding or folders, but those features may be included next year.

Music--CD-quality sound on AOL Radio. Instant-messaging partners can listen to the same music at the same time. But the long-delayed MusicNet subscription service won't be offered until later this year.

Chat--Sign up to be automatically matched with other users based on similar interests listed in member profiles. Real-time searches of conversations in AOL chat rooms by keywords (such as "Iraq invasion" or "Martha Stewart") allow subscribers to be linked with chat sessions of interest.

Alerts--Expanded alerts to remind users of calendar items, TV shows, birthdays, etc. New Caller-Alert notifies users of incoming telephone calls while users are online and records a message from the caller, which is played as an audio file.

Apple Version--First major overhaul of AOL software specifically targeted at Mac users since 1996. Moves standard toolbars and drop-down menus to places where Mac users would expect to find them. Removes Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the standard Web browser and replaces it with AOL's own Netscape Gecko. Uses Apple's QuickTime for video streaming, rather than Real Player.

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Edmund Sanders

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