App Store highlights third-party mapping applications in latest Apple response to iOS 6 Maps complaints

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 10:13
Category: News, Software

This couldn’t have been easy to fess up to and post.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has posted a new featured link on the iOS App Store that invites users to “Find maps for your iPhone,” and lists a number of paid and free alternatives to Apple’s own Maps application in iOS 6.

The new link appeared on the App Store on Friday, after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook himself highlighted competing options in an apology to customers. Since the launch of iOS 6 with Apple’s all-new mapping solution, users have complained that the software is substandard.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app,” Cook wrote.

In addition to the public apology, the new “Find maps for your iPhone” is the first featured link on the iOS App Store curated by Apple. It offers a list of 13 alternative mapping applications available for download. They are:
– MotionX GPS Drive

– Waze social GPS traffic & gas

– MapQuest

– GPS by Telenav

– Garmin USA

– Gokivo GPS Navigator

– Navigon USA

– CoPilot Live Premium USA — offline GPS navigation

– CoPilot GPS — Plan & Explore with on-board maps & directions

– Bing

– Magellan RoadMate North America

– AT&T Navigator: GPS navigation subscription fee appears on AT&T bill

Most notably absent from the list is Google Maps, because a dedicated application from the search company is not yet available on the App Store. Google is said to be working on a standalone application, but in the meantime users can still visit the Google Maps website, as Cook suggested, to access the service. The popular Street View functionality is not available, but is expected to launch within the next two weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

A6 processor found to vary speeds for best possible performance

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Processors

They say the A6 processor has some cool tricks up its sleeve.

They A6 processor doesn’t have sleeves, but it does have some interesting performance variations. No sleeves, though.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, one possible reason the iPhone 5 has such great battery life is the clever way the A6 changes its clock speed. While originally thought to be clocked at 1GHz, the chip has been clocked at 1.1GHz as well as 1.3GHz by Current Editorials.

While 9to5Mac saw the chip’s speed drop as low as 550MHz, this seemed to do more with an as-yet-updated Geekbench app testing the chip (which also resulted in the 1GHz assumption). A Geekbench update seems to paint a different picture now. By all accounts it appears the chip can change “speeds,” however, resulting in better battery life and dynamically tuning itself to the demand for CPU.

Nifty stuff…now if Apple could just release a much-improved iOS 6 Maps app, most of its problems would be over and it could sit and relax with a margarita this Friday.

Google begins adding CardDAV support for iOS calendar users

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Google has added support for the open CardDAV contact syncing protocol used by Apple in OS X and iOS, enabling Google Contacts users to directly sync just like Yahoo and iCloud.

Google’s Gmail product manager Jeff Ellingson noted the new support for CardDAV on the company’s blog today.

The new support requires iOS 5 or higher, and currently requires users to manually set up an “other” CardDAV account, as Apple’s automated setup for Google accounts on both OS X and iOS only configure Gmail & Notes (via IMAP), Calendar & Reminders (via CalDAV), and Messages (via XMPP).

In the future, Apple will likely add support for simply checking a box for Contacts sync to simplify CardDAV account configuration, just as it does for Yahoo and Facebook accounts that already support CardDAV.

Apple pioneered support for the CalDAV and CardDAV open specifications in its efforts to build open Calendar and Contact sharing services in OS X Server as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server, which uses proprietary protocols to sync such data between clients and servers.

The company first added CalDAV and CardDAV support to its mobile devices in iOS 4 two years ago.

Apple has aggressively pushed both open standards for calendar and contact sync, enabling users to seamlessly use Macs and iOS devices with not just its own OS X Server and iCloud offerings, but also third party services from AOL, Google, Yahoo and any other systems that support them.

CalDAV and CardDAV are based upon the WebDAV specification for building web servers capable of both reading and writing information, so implementing the protocols is relatively simple for third parties.

If you’ve tried the new Google CalDAV and CardDAV support features in iOS, please let us know how your experience went in the comments.

Apple releases second public apology regarding iOS 6 Maps app issues

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

Once again…this is awkward.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday published an open letter to customers on behalf of CEO Tim Cook, who formally apologized for Apple’s new Maps in iOS 6 and “the frustration this has caused our customers.”

Cook vowed that his company is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.” In the meantime, he said, users can download third-party mapping tools from the App Store such as Bing, MapQuest or Waze, or use Web-based options like Google Maps or Nokia’s product.

The comments from Cook also corroborate a recent report that indicated Apple’s switch to its own mapping solution in iOS 6 was driven primarily by the company’s interest in providing turn-by-turn directions. Under its previous agreement with Google Maps, voice-guided navigation was not available in the iOS Maps application.

“We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS,” Cook wrote. “As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”

Upon its debut with iOS 6, Apple’s new Maps application was met with a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Apple’s new mapping solution is generally seen as inferior to the product it replaced, which was powered by Google Maps.

Friday’s letter by Cook is the second time Apple has commented publicly on the Maps controversy. The company first issued a statement soon after the release of iOS 6 to say it was “working hard” to fix the Maps application, and that the company appreciates customer feedback.

Apple’s mapping team was said to be “under lockdown,” attempting to quickly fix some of the larger issues with iOS 6 Maps. And the company was also reported to have been luring ex-Google Maps engineers to work on its new application. Apple also began advertising for new positions available for mapping developers on its website.

One of the most-cited features missed by users with iOS 6 Maps is Google’s Street View functionality. That feature is reportedly coming to the Web-based version of Google Maps within two weeks.

Cook’s full letter is included below:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Non-contract, full-priced iPhone can be unlocked via iTunes

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you get your money’s worth.

Per TechCrunch, customers who paid full freight for an AT&T version of Apple’s iPhone 5 can easily unlock the device with a quick iTunes reset.

The simple unlocking procedure is said to work with iPhone 5s purchased from AT&T at full price, with the process being quite simple compared to the carrier’s traditional previous method of submitting an online form, sending a fax and waiting up to a week for a restore.

The publication was able to confirm the easy one-step process with AT&T’s technical support and successfully unlocked the device in iTunes.

“After restoring the device in iTunes, the user is prompted with the usual unlocking message: ‘Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked,'” the report said.

From that point, according to TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet, all that was needed to gain access to T-Mobile’s network was the trimming down of a compatible micro-SIM card to fit in the iPhone 5’s nano-SIM tray. The device recognized T-Mobile’s signal within seconds, allowing both calls and EDGE data to go through without issue.

Dillet explained that when an iPhone is purchased, the handset’s IMEI is added to Apple’s database, though it appears subsidized phones hold a different status than those purchased at full price without a contract.

While the publication was able to successfully unlock an iPhone 5 purchased through Apple retail, the procedure could not be confirmed on another pre-ordered unit “even though the device was purchased at full price, it was tied to an existing AT&T account during the pre-order process.”

It was previously reported that Verizon’s iPhone 5 ships unlocked for GSM networks.

If anyone out there has unlocked iPhone 5 that they’re looking to attach to an otherwise-unsupported wireless carrier and are about to try this technique, please let us know how it goes in the comments.

Assorted iPhone 4S, third-gen iPad users reporting iOS 6 Wi-Fi issues

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 07:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Well, this is why they invented bug fixes and software updates…

Per AppleInsider, a whopping 91-page thread on Apple’s Support Communities webpage illustrates what appears to be a significant problem with upgrading iPhone 4S and third-generation iPads to the company’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 6.

Forum members report that after upgrading to iOS 6, both the legacy iPhone 4S and new iPad are experiencing disabled Wi-Fi connectivity that leaves the option to connect “grayed out.” The issue appears to be affecting Bluetooth capabilities as well, with some users claiming their units are unable to pair or even recognize other devices, and show the spinning “search wheel” indefinitely.

Another set of users have the ability to turn Wi-Fi on in Settings, but are unable to connect to their local network.

Both the nature and extent of the purported iOS 6 complications are unknown, including whether the two issues are related, though many affected users who have contacted Apple say the company is aware of the problems.

A number of fixes have been suggested, including a hard reset and reinstallation of iOS 6, but the most effective seems to be resetting Network Settings and changing the HTTP Proxy to “Auto.”

For those who are seeing a completely grayed out Wi-Fi toggle switch in Settings, a few users have had luck with downgrading to iOS 5.1, suggesting the issue is exclusive to iOS 6. Other members have successfully exchanged their affected iPhones for new hardware after demonstrating the grayed out Wi-Fi option to staff at the Apple Store Genius Bar, though it is unclear if handset replacement is the usual course of action.

When iOS 6 was released on Sept. 19, a number of early adopters suffered from Wi-Fi issues, however Apple was able to trace the problem back to a downed verification page which was quickly repaired.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Apple files patent for inductive charging pad that could also offer device syncing features

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 06:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, Patents

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It’s not the newest peripheral idea in the world, but it’s still sort of nifty.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, Apple has shown interest in building an inductive charging mat that would allow users to dock, charge and sync their portable devices by simply placing them on top of the accessory.

Apple’s filing, entitled “Device Orientation Based Docking Functions,” describes a “docking device” that would allow devices to be placed on top of it.

The mat would accomplish docking functions such as charging, data transfer, syncing, diagnostic checking, or any other potential use based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

The filing notes that smartphones, like the iPhone, as well as digital cameras and media players like iPods can all be built to utilize inductive charging surfaces. Circuitry in these devices would respond to a magnetic field provided by the charging surface that would also allow data to be transferred while the device is docked.

While inductive charging surfaces are not new technology, Apple’s application brings a new twist to the concept with the idea of interpreting the device’s orientation for specific purposes. For example, a future iPhone with inductive charging capabilities could be placed face down on the mat for charging only, while placing the handset face-up on the mat could initiate syncing with a computer or iCloud as well as charging.

Once a device is placed on the mat, its current docking mode may be indicated to the user by either a sound, a graphic displayed on the device’s screen, an electronic message notification, or a vibration of the device.

Beyond a local computer for syncing, the inductive charging mat could also be connected to a host of devices throughout a person’s home. In one example, the mat is connected to speakers for audio output when docked.

Apple’s proposed invention was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2011. It is credited to Jorge S. Fino.

When the iPhone 5 was announced earlier this month, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller was asked why the new handset does not include inductive charging capabilities. He said the perceived convenience of such technology is questionable, as charging mats must still be plugged into an outlet.

“Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” he explained.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google contract waived for one year while iOS 6 Maps app introduced

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Date: Wednesday, September 26th, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

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Well, this is a bit awkward.

Per the New York Times and The Verge, a report on Tuesday claims Apple had over one year left on its contract with Google Maps when it made the decision to replace the app with a proprietary solution, leaving the internet search giant with little time to develop a standalone version capable of running on iOS 6.

The newspaper has confirmed with its own sources that Google is indeed building a maps app, however the software will likely not be available for months as the company was “caught off guard” when Apple announced iOS Maps. Google Maps for iOS will possibly be released by the end of the year.

According to two separate sources familiar with the matter, the decision to replace Google Maps came shortly before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, meaning Google had a short window with which to build a new iOS app. The sources go on to say the standalone Google Maps is largely incomplete and will not ship for “several months,” according to the story on The Verge.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said as much in a short interview on Tuesday, revealing that the company has “not done anything yet” in terms of submitting an standalone app to Apple.

As for Apple’s decision to ditch Google’s mapping service, Schmidt said, “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Apple’s proprietary mapping solution was introduced at WWDC, with iOS chief Scott Forstall touting the app’s turn-by-turn directions, crowd-sourced traffic data, Siri integration and 3D Flyover capabilities. The company was also said to be handling the cartography in house in its bid to replace Google Maps, a bold undertaking given Google’s service has been continuously fine-tuned over the past decade.

The move to introduce a totally new mapping system with iOS 6 and the new iPhone 5 was reportedly a result of the disparity of features between the Android and iOS versions of Google Maps. One key feature was free turn-by-turn directions, something that Google has been including in its Android OS for years.

In a bid to upstage Apple’s announcement, Google announced the “next dimension” of Google Maps a few days prior to WWDC. The new feature turned out to be similar to Apple’s Flyover and offers 3D renderings of certain large metropolitan areas.

When it was released last week alongside iOS 6, Apple’s new iOS Maps met a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Perhaps most troubling was the lack of features users had become accustomed to with Google Maps, such as Street View, highly-detailed map data and public transit routes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox 1.5.34 beta goes live, now available for download

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Date: Wednesday, September 26th, 2012, 08:46
Category: News, Software

You can’t argue with a good beta.

On Wednesday, Dropbox released a public beta of version 1.5.34 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 24.2 megabyte download, which adds the following fixes and changes:

– New Dropbox menu on the desktop client.

– This feature is not localized in languages other than English.

– It is only enabled on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and above

– The button to quit Dropbox has been relocated to the Preferences window.

– Tooltips are not supported inside the popup.

– Screen readers or assistive devices are not compatible with the popup.

– Other small bug fixes.

Dropbox 1.5.34 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 22.0.1229.79

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Date: Wednesday, September 26th, 2012, 08:32
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a decent update.

Late Tuesday, Google released a beta of version 22.0.1229.79 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 44 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Mouse Lock API availability for Javascript.

– Additional Windows 8 enhancements.

– Continued polish for users of HiDPI/Retina screens.

Google Chrome 22.0.1229.79 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.