AOL announced the launch of AOL 9.0, the new version of the online service already used by more than two million households in the UK.
AOL 9.0 includes more than 40 new features and tools, giving members more control over how they use the Internet and more scope for what they can do online, whether connecting via AOL Anytime or AOLBroadband.
- Voice Over IP service AOL Talk is a mass market VoIP service integrated with the AOL software, giving AOL 9.0 members the opportunity to make free calls to friends on AOL 9.0 in the UK andoverseas by using PC-to-PC voice communication.
- Bayesian spam filters to help protect even further from the common Internet irritant of spam. AOL already blocks more than two billion pieces of spam per day, but the advanced filters in AOL9.0 provide enhanced protection from spam by adapting to each member’s email preferences over time.
- Video Instant Messenger enables a PC-to-PC video conversation so members can see each other as they chat online.
- IM2Mobile is a premium service enabling members to send, receive and respond to IMs via mobile phone if they are away from their PC.
Karen Thomson, AOL UK Chief Executive, said: “By listening to our members and consumers we know that Internet users in the UK are increasingly sophisticated; they demand better performance and moreadvanced, diverse and exciting features from the Internet than ever before. This is particularly true as the number of broadband users increases and they desire more than just speed to get what theywant out of being online. AOL 9.0 delivers on our promise to help make the Internet safer, more exciting and more compelling for all our members. AOL 9.0 has something for everyone, whatever theywish to get from the Internet.”
Highlights of the AOL 9.0 software include:
New Flexible Communications Options For The PC:
- AOL Talk is a mass market VoIP service integrated with the AOL software, giving AOL 9.0 members the opportunity to make free calls to friends on AOL 9.0 in the UK and overseas by using PC-to-PCvoice communication.
- Video Instant Messenger* (Video IM) is a new service that lets people see their family or friend via a webcam while they chat online. For members using Windows XP they can exchange real-timevideo while they are chatting. For members not using Windows XP they can record 30 seconds of footage to send or select a clip from AOL’s video clips library. As with AOL Talk, by using Video IMmembers can chat face-to-face without the cost of the phone calls.
- AOL Communicator brings together email, Instant Messenger and the AOL Address Book to enable advanced users to manage high volumes of email, more than one email account at once, reduce spamand to carry out advanced searching and sorting.
- Instant Messenger To Mobile is a premium service launching with AOL 9.0, integrating AOL Instant Messenger with texting for a more convenient way of keeping in touch. Members can sendInstant Messages to a mobile phone and the reply can be an Instant Messenger text back from the phone to the PC. Members can also have Instant Messages forwarded to their mobiles when they are awayfrom their PC.
The cost for IM2Mobile and IM Forwarding in AOL 9.0 is 6p/SMS message for AOL members. Replies could be subject to additional charges made by mobile operators.
Built-in security and safety tools
- Enhanced Spam Controls that learn what members regard as spam and get smarter and more effective the more they’re used. The enhanced three tier Bayesian spam filters in AOL 9.0 provideincreased protection for members from annoying spam emails.
- ‘This Is Not Spam’ button introduced to enable members to inform the spam filters what they personally consider to be spam and what they do not consider to be spam.
- Spam Folder** in AOL 9.0 is dedicated to receiving suspect spam emails and the introduction of the Spam Folder gives each member the opportunity to further refine the filters according totheir own preferences. As the new Spam Controls adapt to member preferences over time so the accuracy of directing suspect emails to the Spam Folder increases.
- McAfee(r) Anti-Virus scanning software is a free, automatic service that detects and deals with viruses, worms and Trojans in email and because it is not downloaded, AOL can offer the latestlevels of protection without members having to continually update the scanning software.
Enhanced Parental Controls
- AOL Guardian is one of the new Parental Controls included in AOL 9.0. AOL Guardian sends a detailed report of a child’s online behaviour to the parents via email. This allows parents to monitorwhat their child has been doing in emails, chat rooms, Instant Messenger and when browsing the Internet.
- Web Unlock is a new Parental Control to enable parents to use any online computer to change their children’s AOL account settings and monitor their web behaviour, even when away fromhome.
New Technologies To Ensure A Better Online Connection For All Members
- TopSpeed(tm) web acceleration technology offers faster web browsing than any previous AOL service. Web pages are displayed up to three times faster when using TopSpeed(tm) on AOL 9.0.
- Computer Check-Up is a free diagnostics programme that can be run on the member’s PC to identify and fix any problems that could be affecting its performance. Identified problems couldrelate to browser settings, pop-ups, RAM or hard drive space and once fixed will help the member’s PC run more efficiently.
New Ways to Share and Have Fun Online
- SuperBuddy(tm)*** feature is new with AOL 9.0. SuperBuddy(tm) icons are animated 3D characters that make instant messaging more fun by acting out common words and chat phrases as the words aretyped. Type ‘zzz’ and the selected SuperBuddy(tm) icon will fall asleep on screen, type ‘LOL’ and it will roll with laughter. Each member can programme each SuperBuddy(tm) icon to behave as theywish. SuperBuddy feature is disabled for members using low ram version of AOL 9.0.
- You’ve Got Pictures(tm) (YGP) is a comprehensive and flexible photographic management and edit suite that members can use with a web cam, a digital camera or a camera/scanner combination.YGP provides each member with unlimited online storage for images and whole albums which can be shared with friends and family, edited to remove common problems such as ‘red eye’ and ordered asprints or gifts for delivery anywhere in the world.
- AOL Journals are AOL’s easy to use blog feature. Using AOL Journals, members can design, create and update their own online journals from wherever they are in the world, including thoughts,pictures and links to other sites. AOL Journals are integrated with AOL 9.0′s new Picture Finder so online photos and picture albums can be added to text entries and Instant Messages. AOL Journalscan also be updated via Instant Messenger to AOL Journals. Once published AOL Journals are accessible to other AOL members and Internet users if invited, via aol.co.uk.
Everyday Extras For All AOL Members
- Oxford University Press is incorporated into AOL 9.0 to give members access to 50 online Oxford University Press titles at no extra cost, including the Oxford English Dictionary, thesaurus,specialised encyclopaedias and foreign language dictionaries. A similar resource would cost around Â£7.99 per month if purchased by a non-AOL member and has proved popular amongst members intesting.
AOL 9.0 For Broadband Members
Using AOL 9.0 our Broadband members will benefit from all of the above features plus a number of additional features which are either better on broadband or exclusive to broadband.
- McAfee(r) Personal Firewall Express is provided to help protect members’ computers from unwanted access and to provide an always-on barrier from intrusions.
- Internet Access Controls allow parents to “lock down” their computer and prevent their child from accessing external browsers or other Internet access programs, like file-sharingsoftware.
- Home Networking is now available for AOL Broadband members, fully supported by the AOL customer service team. With the Home Networking capabilities of AOL 9.0 members can share all of thebenefits of the service with the entire family as all seven Screen Names can be online at the same time with only one AOL for Broadband account and a high-speed connection through a home network. AOLHome Networking supports the Thomson range of routers, Thomson 510v4, 545 and 570 (wi-fi).
- Radio@AOL Broadband enables broadband members who use AOL 9.0 to listen to talk-free, advert-free radio stations in CD-quality sound on their PC. Radio@AOL Broadband offers members a choiceof more than 100 radio stations to listen to.
Stations can be shared with others via links inserted into Instant Messenger and emails.
* As an additional security measure for Video IM, every member will be asked to confirm they agree with the terms and conditions before seeing the first image on screen and for younger members whoseAOL account setting is ‘Kid’ or ‘Young Teen’, the Video IM facility will be switched off.
** Dedicated Spam Folder is emptied every five days by AOL so members should manually check Spam Folders for each of their active Screen Names, using the ‘This is Not Spam’ button to refine thepersonal level filters. By default, emails from people listed in the AOL Address Book or Buddy List will not be directed to the new Spam Folder. It is also possible to turn off the Spam Folder if sodesired for instance when a member is travelling for more than five days.
*** SuperBuddy feature is disabled for members using RAM below 128MB to give members better performance.