Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference stormed San Francisco this week and showed off the new software the company has been working on. The next version of the Mac operating system is called OS X Yosemite. The new system is available for those in Apple’s developer program now, but has a public beta for those who just can’t wait and have n aversion to working with unfinished software. Macworld, Cult of Mac and Ars Technica were among the many Applewatchers doing OS X feature roundups for those who want to read up in detail.
The forthcoming iOS 8 also made an appearance at WWDC, and Apple is calling it “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store.” The new system meshes with OS X and ties all your Apple hardware together just a little bit tighter with the Handoff continuity feature, where you can start a message on your iPhone and finish it on your Mac. As rumored, new apps for health monitoring and developer tools for adding smart-home control apps were in the mix, so the new features already felt kind of old.
Still, there was other stuff: iOS 8 includes a new keyboard with better predictive functions (to hopefully stiff Autocorrect) and ability for third-party keyboards to be added. The Messages app can send audio clips and handle group conversations better and the Photos and iCloud way of handling your digital pictures are getting improvements. Siri is also shacking up with Shazam for music recognition.
As this was the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple also spent part of the presentation showing off new tools for programmers with the iOS 8 SDK with its 4,000 new APIs. A new graphics technology called Metal was demoed, as was a whole new programming language called Swift for iOS and OS X. If you’re a developer and intrigued by this new language, a free 500-page manual for coding in Swift is available in the iBooks Store.
Try as it may, Apple could not hog all the headlines this week. Samsung finally launched its first smartphone running the open-source Tizen operating system. The Samsung Z was revealed at a conference this week and is expected to be released first in Russia this fall. The black and gold phone will have a high-definition 4.9-inch screen, 2.3 gigahertz Snapdragon quad-core processor and a fingerprint sensor.
Instagram is out with a new version of its mobile app, dubbed Instagram 6.0, that adds new controls to its photo filters. And Intel announced a new line of Core M processors that promise more power for computing while consuming less power from the battery.
Hey, if you liked the “Kids React to Old Computers” video we talked about on last week’s show, check out The Fine Brothers new clip, “Teens React to the 90s Internet.” And while you’re absorbing that blast from the past, here’s another one. Myspace, the social network pretty much stomped into irrelevance by Facebook, has been sending out messages to former members to remind them that they still have old — and potentially embarrassing — photos on the site. A spokesperson at Myspace told the Mashable site that the company wasn’t trying to blackmail former users into returning, but you know, just engaging them.
In security news, US authorities say they’ve caused a disruption in the GameOver Zeus botnet and warn that victims (and potential victims) have about two weeks to shore up their systems before hackers can get the botnet back up and running. The peer-to-peer malware, which tries to steal a user’s online banking credentials, attacks Windows systems and is spread through spam and phishing messages. US-CERT has a warning out, along with links to virus scanners and steps to take for getting rid of the malware.
Self-updating systems that can automatically repair security holes would be a dream, and its one that’s being dared over at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The New York Times takes a look at the agency’s Cyber Grand Challenge, a two-year contest to develop an automated cybersecurity system. Thirty teams from academia and industry plan to participate, with the winner being announced at DEFCON 2016.
June is National Internet Safety Month, not to be confused with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, (which is in October) and Data Privacy Day, (which is every January 28th). National Internet Safety Month came out of a resolution passed by the US Senate in 2005 and is devoted to educating people on ways to stay safe online and a number of sites are offering advice on basic online behavior to keep you out of trouble. Visit StaySafeOnline.org for a guide on how to observe National Internet Safety Month. Antivirus vendor Intego has a list of tips as does Symantec over on the Norton site. (National Internet Safety Month also coincides with the National Safety Council’s own National Safety Month, in which citizens are advised to be careful in general. So let’s watch what we’re doing.)
John Oliver, the British comedian and social commentator over on HBO, had a few things to say about the current Net Neutrality debate over Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new rules. Mr. Oliver had a 13-minute monologue on the topic last weekend and encouraged Internet comment trolls to use their powers for good, or as he put it “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,” and provide feedback on the FCC’s website. As of Tuesday, more than 47,000 comments had been posted with more on the way and temporarily crippled the site’s commenting system.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced their advances in the field of bakable robots, while those at Texas A&M there have published a paper explaining that many people have little or no fear of drones if the drones are small and or shaped like the fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Technology comfort levels continue to rise in other categories. The Washington Post reports that the US ambassador to Switzerland was sworn in on a Kindle reader this week. )
Analyst Mary Meeker released her annual Internet Trends report last week. Bloomberg Businessweek made note of the report while not thinking much of her visual aids with a story called “Redesigning Mary Meeker’s Ugly Internet Slideshow.”
Levar Burton’s Kickstarter campaign to bring his old Reading Rainbow TV show back as a streaming series on the web, mobile devices, game consoles and connected televisions got a lot of love, making its one million dollar goal in just 11 hours. The show, which lives on already as an iPad app, has now upped its goal to five million dollars. It’s at more than three million bucks at the moment and also plans to donate reading and educational materials to schools that can’t afford them.
And finally, the cast of the upcoming Star Wars VII just got a little bigger. Actresses Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her work in 12 Years a Slave last year and Gwendoline Christie, currently playing Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Game of Thrones have joined the production. The casting news, along with 45 photos posted on TMZ.com that were reportedly leaked from the film’s Tattooine set in Abu Dhabi, have many Star Wars fans hyperventilating and counting the days to December 18th, 2015. Director J.J. Abrams, however, would totally like people to quit leaking stuff from his movie, okay?