Walt Mossberg

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Are Macs More Secure?

Q:

Apple claims Macs to be more secure than Windows PCs. In the light of recent malware attacks on the Mac platform, there are several articles on the Web questioning this claim. What is your take on this matter?

A:

Macs aren’t invulnerable to malicious software. No computer is. But the people who produce viruses and spyware have traditionally focused on Windows—and still do, primarily. There have indeed been a couple of recent instances of malware that spread among some Macs in the real world. But bear in mind that, despite the steady growth in Mac sales, Windows still powers the vast majority of the world’s PCs, and, because of that, there are hundreds of thousands of malicious programs targeting it, versus just a handful of known ones for the Mac.

So, my take on this is that while Mac users must be careful where they surf, and Apple will have to step up its game against these attacks, an unprotected Macintosh is still, in daily use, far less likely to become infected than an unprotected Windows PC. How users handle this depends on their habits and their tolerance, both for risk, and for the downsides of constantly running security software, which can sap resources and be annoying. I advise all Windows users to run such software. But I see it as optional for Mac users, at least today. Time will tell if that changes.

Q:

Do you know of any apps that work well with dictation on older iPhones?

A:

One that I have used successfully is Dragon Dictation from Nuance. The same company makes an Android app called FlexT9, which I haven’t tested, that includes dictation, among other features. Both apps work on a wide variety of models.

Q:

I love my BlackBerry for the ease of emailing and maintaining my schedule but not for accessing the Internet. I am a T-Mobile customer. Is there any device that has the good features of the BlackBerry and also easily and comprehensively accesses the Internet?

A:

T-Mobile offers a wide range of Android phones that include very good Web browsers and typically have two email apps: one for Gmail and one for all your other email accounts. They also have calendar apps.

Overall, I prefer these smartphones to current BlackBerrys and find the email experience fine. But people who are used to the BlackBerry for email—especially corporate email—sometimes complain that email on other devices isn’t as fast. This is partly because BlackBerry email is routed through a proprietary system. I’d advise asking friends or colleagues with newer T-Mobile Android phones about their email experience.

Write to Walt at mossberg.@wsj.com.


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