Technology uses Wi-Fi signals for positioning when GPS absent
Apple has purchased a small Silicon Valley startup, WiFiSLAM, that specializes in extending location data and positioning to indoor locations using Wi-Fi triangulation when GPS information is not available, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal, worth $20 million, is expected to supplement Apple's Maps application and compete with Google's crowdsourced "Indoor Maps" project. Currently, the "Indoor Maps" project is limited to large-crowd locations such as airports, stadiums and shopping centers.
Maps and Commerce division split, Huber reassigned
Google is breaking apart its Maps and Commerce division, with the section head being moved to another team. The stepping down of Jeff Huber from his position along with splitting up the department appears to be a continuation of Google's shuffle of management and divisions from yesterday, which saw Andy Rubin step down and be replaced by Sundar Pichai.
In-store availability checks, expanded Flyover and 3D buildings
Apple on Tuesday updated both its Apple Store buying app and (in a "silent" update) Maps application with expanded options. The Apple Store app (free) now features in-store availability checking, and more finely-grained delivery options -- making it possible for customers to choose to have some items delivered and some for pickup, notes AppleInsider. The Maps app, which has already received smaller "invisible" bugfixes since its debut, dramatically expanded its Flyover cities and other features in recent days.
Hints at broad expansion of existing app, greater integration
A raft of positions available with Apple at its Cupertino headquarters dealing with nearly every aspect of the company's iOS Maps program have been revealed through new job postings. A total of ten engineering positions dealing directly with Maps suggest either that Apple is replacing those hired for nearly identical jobs in September, or expanding the team significantly in another push to help the program realize its potential. While Apple's Maps has improved significantly from its debut, it still lags behind Google, Nokia and other competitors in a number of aspects.
Used crowdsourced information over multiple years for map
Google has updated its Maps to include detailed road and landscape information for North Korea, something not offered before by the service. Previously showing just the coastline, rivers and the location of Pyongyang, the new additions are the culmination of years of work by residents of the secretive country using Google Map Maker.
Fake names stem from old OpenStreetMap info
Just as Apple Maps has regained user trust by correcting many of the major problems with early versions of its maps, an old prank by some Afghan university students is giving the company another black eye over inaccurate street names shown for areas of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. A reliance on outdated data from OpenStreetMap -- a source used by Apple for some areas, and which is editable by users -- seems to be the source of the joke street names.
Leak pegs Maps app in alpha, vector-based maps
A new version of Google's iOS Maps app is reportedly in the alpha stage of development, and it will bring a number of improvements when it is eventually released. Screens from the app have appeared on the website of an independent developer, showing off some blurry shots of the iOS 6 app in action. The developer says that the app has been significantly rebuilt and it will take advantage of the 4-inch height of the iPhone 5.
Small but angry segment very put off by early problems
A survey by an SEO ranking provider for small businesses has turned up a surprising level of satisfaction with Apple's Maps in iOS 6 and suggests further that, at least within the US, the media reporting on the topic may be overblown. While Apple itself and many others have noted genuine problems with the data found in Maps, especially right after launch, many in North America (particularly those using the driving directions) have a better experience. The survey found that 74 percent of respondents were happy with the new Maps app.
Developers alerted Apple about Maps woes as far back as June
Apple knew of iOS 6 Maps problems as far back as June this year, says CNET. After the first beta of iOS 6 was seeded to developers, feedback on errors and inaccuracies in the new app were supplied by numerous parties. Developers filed bug reports, emails were sent to specific employees, and frustration was also expressed on developer-only message boards viewed by Apple.
Faced off against Samsung Galaxy Note, GMC Terrain car nav
While Apple's new Maps application has taken a public drubbing over early inaccuracies, graphic anomalies, mislabelled places and the loss of essential features such as transit directions and a street view, there are areas in which the app has been an improvement over the old version since day one: maps are vector based and thus cleaner and more scalable, the maps use dramatically less 3G or LTE data than before, and Apple added turn-by-turn navigation (with voice and Siri integration on the iPhone 5) for drivers.
Interviews with ex-staff suggest failures start at top
After the negative reaction to Maps in iOS 6, the spotlight has once again shone on some of Apple's other large-scale service-based failures. Interviews with former employees, carried out by the New York Times, suggest that a set of repeated failures in Internet services stems from the top.
Before iOS 6, 25 percent were using Google Maps daily
Utilization of Apple's iOS 6 Maps app appears to have plummeted in the days since its release. According to one study from data management company Snappli, only four percent of users running iOS 6 are still using Apple Maps, a dramatic drop from just a week ago, when the app debuted. Snappli's figures also show that Apple Maps usage is far below the levels the company saw when Google's Maps app was the standard on iOS.
Testing limited to New York City area, however
Testing and recommendation magazine Consumer Reports has taken a closer look at Apple's Maps and compared it more closely with Google's Android Maps, specifically testing navigation features for driving. While initially condemning Apple's Maps as inferior last week, the more "thoroughly tested" Apple Maps has now been deemed to hold up well, though not quite up to the Google standard. Both, said CR writer Jeff Bartlett, "provide clear routing directions" that "route effectively, providing clear guidance and great points-of-interest integration."
New York address does not exist according to USPO
An advertisement for a Motorola smartphone showing Google Maps as better than Apple's Maps app came under criticism itself today. The ad, promoting the Droid Razr M compared both versions of the Maps app, with the Razr M appearing to have found a fictitious location correctly while the iPhone 5 seemed to complete the same task with the wrong result -- with the only problem being that the address doesn't actually exist.
Claims he may become Australian citizen due to broadband network
Fusion-io Chief Scientist and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak commented on Apple's Maps debacle during a company event in Sydney, Australia, saying that he was slightly disappointed with the new application, but that it was primarily because he more luck with the "better database" used by Google maps on his Android phones in his own testing. Woz, who owns numerous phones and took advantage of being in the country to be among the first to get the iPhone 5, added that he felt the severity of the flaws in Apple's Maps app have been exaggerated, Australian media reports say.
Reminds customers that it is a 1.0 product, is 'working hard' on it
Apple says it is working hard to correct some flaws and inaccuracies in its new Maps application, which replaces Google Maps in iOS 6. On top of complaints that transit and walking directions were dropped from the new applications compared to Google's, users have pointed out satellite imagery errors and other inaccuracies that include outdated images, less-specific road maps, lack of "Streetview" and some business names, and inaccurate names on points of interest. Apple thanks users for their feedback but also reminds them that the app and its service are new, and that it will improve.
Next Kindle Fire to feature native mapping services
When Amazon announces the next version of its Kindle Fire tablet next Thursday, the device will feature mapping services provided by Nokia. Sources familiar with Amazon's plans tell Reuters that the web retail giant will shun Google for Nokia, even though the current generation Kindle Fire runs on a forked version of Google's Android operating system. Those sources have also confirmed that next Thursday's Amazon event will indeed introduce at least one new Kindle Fire model, though a multi-unit unveiling remains a possibility.
icloud.com email addresses appear
Some of the changes in iOS 6 beta 3 have been discovered by developers. MacRumors notes that users can now have icloud.com email addresses, instead of just ones from me.com. The latter are a holdover from iCloud's failed predecessor, MobileMe.
Preview expected at WWDC, release 'later this year'
The Wall Street Journal is backing up reports of Apple transitioning to a Google-less iOS Maps app. The paper cites "current and former Apple employees," who say that the app will arrive later this year. One source says that Apple could preview the new app at WWDC, which begins June 11th. There the company is widely expected to show off iOS 6, with which any version of Maps would have to be deeply integrated.
New color palette separates map from overlays
Designers with Bing Maps and Nokia Maps have coordinated with the Windows Phone team to bring a unified look to maps across both services, now available on the desktop and mobile version of Bing and Nokia maps. The goal was to update the color palette to better distinguish roads from rivers while keeping overlaid information, such as traffic, distinct. The redesign extends to collaboration across services on fonts, labelling and readability.
Combines travel features, GPS when available
Wazado Mobile Applications, best known for its NAVV turn-by-turn GPS navigation app, has created an iPad-only offering called NAVV Traveller, which combines offline maps with online GPS (if available) and travel-assistant type features such as weather conditions, real-time traffic, points of interest and in-app posting to Facebook or SMS. The app is available for North America and Western Europe so far.
Launch includes 200 US locations, more overseas
Navteq has announced that it has expanded its range of mapping services to include indoor areas. The new maps, which are initially focused on shopping centers, include interior map attributes such as escalators, stairs, emergency exits and bathrooms, along with much greater detail for POIs related information such as departments within stores.
Nokia finalizes NAVTEQ buy
Nokia has completed its purchase of mapping technology and software maker NAVTEQ after getting the European Commission's approval of the deal earlier this month. Navteq provides data used in a wide range of applications, including automotive navigation systems and web-based applications, such as Google Maps, Yahoo! and other sites. As part of Nokia, NAVTEQ will now continue to develop map data and its technology platform, focusing on adding context-aware services to the web functions of mobile devices, the company said. Such functionality will allow users to quickly and efficiently access data such as restaurant reviews and store hours from the Internet based on their location.
Outdoor enthusiasts now have instant access to trail maps right from their iPhones. Podpro is offering a free service for skiers and snowboarders that delivers instant access to more than thirty-three of North America's most popular ski resorts. With Podpro's service users can retrieve live weather reports, ski conditions, as well as lodging options from anywhere.
Touch update a bargain
Apple's recent $20 content update for the iPod touch has some users expressing discontent with the company's approach, but others still see a great value in the update package. PC Magazine writer Sascha Segan reports that despite the perception that Apple is charging too much for the update, the software that is installed is well worth the money, and even a bargain. Segan says that the best values in the bundle are the re-designed home screen, as well as the Mail and Maps applications.
Hands On: iPhone 1.1.3
Announced Tuesday morning, Apple released iPhone 1.1.3 with several security updates (including addressing an important Passcode Lock flaw) along with new features such as Google Map Locator, the ability to send SMS to multiple recipients, customizable home page/icons, and webclips. The download and install is available via iTunes and takes about 10-20 minutes to download and install (depending on your internet connection) and it updates both the software and firmware so it takes a bit longer than you may expect. Unfortunately, our iPhone worked after install, but it took another quick "iTunes activation" -- by placing back into the dock and waiting for the iTunes Store to sync it -- after the install to get it back onto the AT&T network.