After many months of promises, Sling Media finally delivered a Mac version of the SlingPlayer software in October 2006. There was just one problem: the public beta disappointed many Mac owners because--and I'm not making this up--it looked too much like Windows software. For instance, MacWorld's review noted:
Although the Brushed Steel interface skin approximates the QuickTime Player interface, it's betrayed by the series of Windows-style buttons in the top left corner. (It could be worse--they could be in the top right instead!) It's a little thing, but it's still ugly, and I hope that the final version of the software replaces those buttons with ones of a more Mac-friendly variety.
Five months on, Sling has moved the Mac version of its viewing software from beta to version 1.0--and this time, the Apple faithful will find it more to their liking. This one has a native "Aqua" interface, so it looks more at home on the OS X desktop. Further cementing the Mac street cred: the development effort for this latest version of the player is being led by former Apple employees, according to a Sling Media spokesman. Sling also reports that the new build includes "numerous under-the-hood bug fixes" and supports additional source devices, including Apple TV.
The "ugliness" of the previous Mac version was, in my opinion, something of a non-issue. That said, I was able to preview the updated version last week (the screenshot above is from the CNET Labs' resident iMac), and there's no denying that the look and feel of the application--the translucent remote background, for instance--is more Mac-friendly. The new version should be available for download at Sling Media's Web site by the end of the day, and--like the Windows version--the Mac one will be completely free. Windows purists, meanwhile, can look forward to a Vista-optimized version of the SlingPlayer (first shown at January's CES) to appear later this year.
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