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.

Dial-Up Internet Access for Mac Users

Dial-up internet access for Mac users is fast and easy with EarthLink Dial-up.  But the experience is a little different from that of Windows users.

If you are a Mac user, here’s how you should configure your computer (OS X 10.5) for dial up Internet access with EarthLink:

  1. Open your System Preferences (under the Apple menu).Setting up dial up internet access on a Mac computer
  2. Click the Network icon (in the Internet and Network section).
  3. In the left menu, select either Internal Modem or USB Modem.
  4. In the Telephone Number field, enter an EarthLink dial-up Internet access number that’s local for you (if you don’t have one yet, find a dial-up access number here).
  5. Enter your EarthLink email address in the Account Name field.
  6. Enter your password in the Password field.
  7. Check the box next to Show modem status in menu bar.
  8. Click Apply to complete your dial-up networking setup.

Now, whenever you want to connect to the Internet with dial up, you can click the Connect button on the Network window.

To set up earlier Macs for dial up access, use these tutorials: OS X 10.3 and 10.4 or OS X 10.0 and 10.1.

Don’t Forget to Use EarthLink Accelerator for Faster Dial-Up

We also strongly recommend that Mac dial-up users download EarthLink Accelerator (it’s FREE for all our dial-up access members). With Accelerator installed, you’ll be able to surf the web up to 7x faster than with regular dial-up. And it speeds up email too. So don’t wait — get it now!

Mac Flashback Virus Infects 600,000: What Can You Do?

Security has often been cited as one of the big advantages Mac computers have over their Windows counterparts.

Windows users were under constant assault from viruses, Trojans, spyware, and malware of all kinds.

Mac users remained blissfully above the fray. Most never even considered buying or even installing a free computer security program.

Until last week.

Mac Flashback Virus Worldwide Outbreak Map

Where the Flashback Virus Has Spread

More than 600,00 Mac users were found to be infected with the Flashback Trojan, malware that exploits a Java security flaw to install itself on Macs. Most infected computers (56.6%) are in the U.S.

This isn’t the first Mac attack by any means. Just a year ago there was a fairly large attack called MacDefender.

But more people use Macs now and Flashback has gotten a lot of publicity, leading some to say it has, once and for all, ended Mac’s no-virus reputation.

Now for some comforting news for Mac users: though it’s a large infection, Flashback probably has only infected around 1% of Macs according to some estimates.

Secondly, Apple has already launched a couple of updates to identify and protect against Flashback, so if you get a Mac OS update notice, please don’t ignore it. You can also run your Mac’s Software Update at any time.

Keep in mind, however, that Apple’s Flashback security updates are only for OSX v10.7 and v10.6. Users with earlier operating systems who are concerned are encouraged by Apple to disable Java in their browser preferences. Here is more information about Flashback from Apple.

Though Apple is still working on a Flashback detection and removal tool, there are free 3rd party options available now.

Security vendor Dr.Web has a free online tool to check your system for the Flashback malware (specifically, Backdoor.Flashback.39). All you need to do is enter your Mac’s UUID (don’t worry, there are instructions on how to find it). Keep in mind, this is just a detection, not a removal tool.

Another security vendor, F-Secure, is offering a free tool that automatically detects and removes Flashback from your Mac. Download the free tool here and read the installation instructions.

If you are an EarthLink member and Mac user interested in ongoing protection for your computer, you can take advantage of these Special Offers on Norton Security software from our security partner Symantec.

Security Tune Up

Like your car, your computer needs to be tuned up regularly to keep it running safely and efficiently. Use these tips to keep your computer safe. If you don’t want to try to preform these tasks yourself, take your computer and this article to a trusted technician and ask them to preform a tune up.
-Patch your operating system software. Vendors like Apple and Microsoft release software updates (called “patches”) to fix security and performance issues. Microsoft releases patches monthly and Apple releases patches on an adhoc basis. Your PC or Mac may automatically install these updates, but, if they don’t, its important for you to turn this feature on.
Here’s how for Windows:

http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate

Here’s how for Macs:

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1338

-Turn on your personal firewall. If the firewall is not enabled on your computer, hackers may be able to connect to your computer without you knowing about. Firewalls block unwanted attempts to connect to your computer.
Here’s how for Windows:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc875811.aspx

Here’s how for Macs:

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1810

-Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. Thousands of new viruses are created and released each day. Your anti-virus software should be configured to update your anti-virus software with the latest virus information. Not sure if your software is up to date? Check your anti-virus software vendor’s website for information on how to check to see if your software is up-to-date.
Not using anti-virus software? EarthLink Protection Control software is free to subscribers.
-Back up your files. What do you do when your computer hard drive crashes or a virus makes it impossible for you to use your computer? Recovery is easy if you regularly back up your files to another source other than your computer’s hard drive. Both Windows and Mac operating systems have utilities to help you back up your files. Make sure you back up your files to an external hard drive or use a online back up service like Carbonite
-Make sure your passwords are strong. Create strong passwords that protect your computer, your data and online identity. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords.
-Install phisher protection. Fraudsters often use cleverly worded emails or strategically placed search results to trick unsuspecting victims into visiting bogus websites. These bogus websites often attempt to solicit personal information or install malware without your knowledge. For more information, visit the phisher blog article . SiteAdvisor is a free service that check websites you visit against a list of known phisher sites.
-Security check up. Not sure where to get started? EarthLink and Symatec have teamed up to provide you with a free computer security check up tool. Visit the EarthLink security center here .