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.

New Internet Trends Report

As an Internet service provider, we’re passionate about the Internet and work hard to keep up with what’s new and stay informed about trends that are affecting the direction of the Internet. And we like to keep our Internet access customers informed, as well. So yesterday was a big day.

internet-trends-report-2013On day two of the AllThingsD D11 conference, Mary Meeker, partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, presented her latest annual report on Internet trends.

You can find the full Internet trends presentation (117 slides) on the KPCB website or watch the full video of the D11 presentation (about 24 minutes). But we’ll save you some time by giving you the highlights.

  • The Internet is still growing – fast. EarthLink has been in the Internet access business almost 20 years, so to us it often seems such a mature, established industry. But it is still growing 8%, driven by emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Iran and the Philippines (see slide 4).
  • The U.S. still dominates the Internet. Of the top 10 global Internet properties (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.), eight were “Made in the USA.” Interestingly, while 80% of the sites are U.S.-owned, traffic to them is 81% international users. On the mobile side, 88% of smartphone operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) are U.S.-made (see slides 6 & 7).
  • Sharing is skyrocketing. The amount of content created and shared has grown by 9x in five years and shows no sign of slowing down (see slides 11- 23).
  • Facebook still rules…but for how long? The top social media sites were Facebook (#1 by a significant amount), YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (see slide 27). Facebook’s users, however, were reported to have declined from 2011 to 2012.
  • U.S. smartphone users are pretty darn happy. Users report feeling “connected,” “excited,” “curious/interested,” and “productive” about social and communication activities on their smartphones (see slide 31).
  • Mobile Internet traffic is growing and growing and… In some countries (notably China), mobile Internet access has surpassed desktop/PC access. Mobile is growing for both commerce and social sharing sites (see slides 32 – 37).
  • Tablets have grown even faster than smartphones. Global shipments of tablets actually surpassed desktop PCs and notebook/laptop computers in Q4 of 2012 (see slides 44 – 50).
  • Wearable tech devices with sensors are next in line. Expect hands-free, wearable devices such as wristwatches, bracelets, glasses and more (see slides 52 – 55).
  • China: the case study. Sure, they’re growing because they’re the biggest country. But they are also innovating in some interesting ways (see slides 67 – 73).
  • Immigration fuels U.S. tech … but not enough. Sixty percent of the top 25 tech companies in the U.S. were founded by 1st or 2nd generation Americans. But immigration policy means there’s a shortage of high-skilled technology workers needed to grow the industry (see slides 84 – 90).

Let us know what Internet trend you are most excited about, or if you see other trends.

Mobile Websites: Do I Really Need One?

If you’ve got a business of any size (even if it’s just you at home), I probably don’t have to convince you that you need to build a business website at your own domain name.

Your customers expect you to have a website to consider you a legitimate business.

That’s why we started offering our web hosting services way back in 1995. But a lot has changed in those 18 years. Just having a website isn’t enough for many businesses.

Most businesses also need a mobile website.

If you’re wondering why, remember the immortal (if apocryphal) words of the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton is said to have responded, “Because that’s where the money is.”

That’s a pretty concise summary of why you need mobile site for your business. More and more, mobile is where your customers are. And if that’s where your customers are, that’s where your money is.

Our Mobile Planet - study of smartphone usage and need for mobile websitesConsider these stats from a 2012, Google-sponsored study of smartphone usage called Our Mobile Planet (PDF):

  • 96% of smartphone users have researched a product or service on their device
  • 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone
  • 90% purchase, contact the business or take another action after local research
  • 66% access the Internet every day on their smartphone
  • 57% search on their smartphones every day
  • 37% have researched on their smartphone and then purchased on a computer
  • 35% have made a purchase on their phone
  • 32% have researched on their smartphone and then purchased the product offline

That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.

Also consider that smartphone penetration is still growing and 31% of smartphone users expect to make even more mobile purchases in the future.

That’s why most of our web hosting plans and all of our ecommerce hosting plans include a mobile website with click-to-map and click-to-call functionality. Because we don’t want you to miss out on the ever-growing mobile market of smartphone and tablet users.

These are the EarthLink Web Hosting plans that include a mobile-optimized website: