Apple News from the WWDC: What You Can Expect

Apple OS X Mavericks

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) – the conference of 6,000 that sold out in just 71 seconds – kicked off on Monday this week. From the keynote (click here for a live blog of the keynote on WSJ.com) that day we learned quite a few things about what’s coming from Apple (keep in mind, most things are not coming now and not everything is coming at the same time).

Here are some of the highlights from the first day at the WWDC:

Two new Apple Operating Systems:

  • iOS 7: iOS is Apple’s mobile operating system, the operating system for iPhones and iPads. The coming iOS7 is supposed to provide users with a cleaner, simpler design – and it looks to be a significant departure from previous releases. New iOS7 features include AirDrop, a peer-to-peer networking and file sharing feature that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; iTunes Radio (details below); multitasking (to catch up and perhaps surpass Android’s capabilities); auto-updating of apps; new camera features, including Instagram-like filters; a Control Center that puts your most-used settings in one place; FaceTime audio; and more. You can’t get iOS 7 just yet; it will go immediately to developers. The rest of us will need to wait until the next iPhone comes out, which is expected to be the fall. USAToday.com has a nice summary of iOS7 features with comparisons to Android.
  • OS X Mavericks: OSX is Apple’s desktop and laptop computer operating system. Previously named after wild cats (Lion, Leopard, etc.), OS X is now switching to a “California” theme (Mavericks is a popular surfing destination). Mavericks is supposed to deliver faster ways to multitask with Finder tabs. It will also let you put full screen apps on multiple monitors. Mavericks should deliver superior performance with a compressed memory capability. There will be a new iCloud Keychain to store all your passwords (for all Apple devices) online for security and convenient access. The Calendar, Notifications, and Maps are also getting an overhaul. For more details about the new OS X, see Wired.com. Like iOS 7, Mavericks is being delivered to developers this week but won’t reach consumers until the fall.

Two New Apple Computers:

  • MacBook Air: The laptop that ushered in the ultrabook craze (ultra-think, ultra-light, ultra-portable), is getting updated with faster chips and significantly longer battery life (reportedly 9 hours for the 11-inch model and 12 hours for the 13-inch). Graphics are also supposed to render faster, which is a big plus for gamers. Some were hoping for a new Retina display, which was not one of the upgrades. You can read a comparison of the Air and Retina Macbook Pro here on PCMag.com.
  • Mac Pro: The black, cylindrical, futuristic design of the new Mac Pro (not to be confused with the Macbook Pro laptop) is sure to draw a lot of attention. But as a “professional” desktop/workstation computer, it’s a more of a niche product than most of the other new Apple products announced. So we won’t to a spec-by-spec review here. But Roger Scoble of the Pursuitist website wrote that it was “possibly the most amazing workstation ever. And the stunning design of the new Mac Pro had Gizmodo gushing about Apple’s “Brilliant Insanity.” Read the review here.

Two New Apple Services

  • iTunes Radio: As we predicted on the EarthLink Blog last week, Apple did indeed announce a customizable, free streaming music service, called iTunes Radio. The new ad-supported service, which will be included as a feature of iOS7 and iTunes for Windows and Mac desktops, gives users access to 35 million songs (compared to Spotify’s approximately 20 million) with unlimited free streaming on multiple devices (Spotify Free is limited after 6 months and doesn’t include mobile devices). Another cool feature: you can control iTunes Radio with your voice, via Siri on your mobile devices. On the downside, iTunes Radio doesn’t let you chose exactly which tracks or artists will play; you can only specify music similar to a specified artist, listen to one of the more than 200 genre-based stations, or listen to what’s trending on Twitter. Read a review of iTunes Radio on Lifhacker.com here.
  • Siri: The famous voice control feature of iOS, called Siri, is getting a makeover in iOS7. One of the most noticed changes is likely to be the voice of Siri: not only is it going to be more natural sounding, but you’ll get to choose a male or female voice in multiple languages. The new Siri will also be more helpful, searching the Web (via Bing) and your photos for you, reading you content from Wikipedia and Twitter, adjusting controls on your device, and allowing you to hear voicemails. Here’s what Apple has to say about Siri.

There were quite a few other announcements that we won’t go into detail about here. You can click to read more about updates to the Safari Web browser, iCloud, iWork for iCloud, and more. To catch up on everything, CNET has a great roundup of articles related to the Apple WWDC.

Computer News: Shipments Down, Lenovo Up

Laptops and desktops sales downAs an ISP, we know our customers need computers to take advantage of the Internet access we offer. So we keep an eye on the computer industry, and know many of our customers do to. After all, a good computer can help you have a good Internet experience.

Just yesterday the research firm Gartner released a preliminary report about the PC industry for the third quarter of 2012.

The report showed worldwide PC shipments down over 8% compared with one year ago. In the U.S., shipments were down even more, with a decline of almost 14%. Analysts think that the coming release of Windows 8 contributed to the decline since many consumers may be waiting to buy computers after the release.

The other headline news for the computer industry was that long-time PC sales leader HP looks like it will be edged out of that position for the first time since 2006. The new #1 is projected to be Lenovo with 15.7% of the worldwide PC market compared to 15.5% for HP. Dell, Acer, and ASUS round out the top 5 for worldwide sales.

In the U.S., HP remained #1 and Lenovo was 4th in shipments. Here’s the U.S. top 5 with links to deals on laptops for each brand on myEarthLink:

1. HP
2. Dell
3. Apple
4. Lenovo
5. Acer

If you’re not yet ready to buy a new computer, remember you can still optimize your old PC for greater speed and performance.