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.

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 posts multiple job openings for iOS 6 Maps team

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 07:49
Category: iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, bring in the new hires to make version 2.0 that much better.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has recently posted multiple job openings to help bolster its newly-released Maps app, which has been almost universally panned since iOS 6 launched on Wednesday.

Over the course of the past week, Apple has posted multiple listings for software engineers who will handle development, real-time rendering and overall upgrades to the fledgling mapping service, among others.

According to one job description, Apple’s iOS Maps team is “responsible for MapKit, the iOS framework that displays maps which is used by countless applications on the App Store.”

Apple is seeking to fill positions for developing 3D flyover models, including “mesh generation of terrain” and “road rendering” in a C++ environment. Another engineer is being sought to work on both the client and server to develop “advanced dynamic label layout of road labels, points of interest and other labels on the map.”

Three Map Display team listings points to work on real-time rendering techniques, creating “new and innovative” features and general systems maintenance. Another Map Display team engineer is needed to find and fix what Apple calls “performance bottlenecks” by creating specialized testing tools.

Apple’s Maps app is the company’s first foray into the mapping service business, having previously implemented Google’s finely tuned Google Maps in its iDevices since the first iPhone was launched in 2007. In reviewing the new iPhone 5, critics naturally turned to comparing the two services, and while iOS Maps did garner some acclaim, most found the lack of features and usual Apple polish troubling.

The company responded to complaints on Thursday, saying, “We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it.” Apple noted that Maps is a cloud-based service and said, “the more people use it, the better it will get.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re hunting for work, take a gander at the jobs site.

Some iOS 6 users reporting Wi-Fi issues, Apple may have fixed bug

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:01
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Whenever you release a major new operating system for millions of active devices, there might be a few bugs to sort out…

Per AppleInsider, just hours after Apple released iOS 6 to the public on Wednesday, users are already complaining of Wi-FI connectivity issues on the company’s Support Communities website, possibly stemming from a network verification system flaw.

A number of users reported a “page not found” error when trying to browse in Safari on iOS 6. While the exact cause of the connectivity issues is unknown, it seems the problem started sometime after Apple rolled out the new mobile OS, as multiple reports poured in at nearly the same time.

It appears the problem is rooted in how iOS 6 handles network verification. In order to test whether an accessible Wi-Fi connection is present, Safari is led to a special page, which apparently has gone down.

Currently, Apple’s Support Communities site has a 6-page thread discussing the matter, and with every passing minute a new user seems to confirm that they too are having difficulties. One forum member claims his iPhone was working fine when he first downloaded iOS 6, only to find hours later that his handset was unable to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

Both iPhone and iPad users who upgraded to the new OS have reported experiencing the same issue.

Based on the claims, the issue has arisen from a network verification process baked into the software, wherein the OS attempts to load a dummy page on Apple.com to detect if a users is connected to a paywalled network. Unfortunately, however, the verification page seems to lead to a 404 error, resulting in an inability to connect to Wi-Fi for many users.

Apple has been contacted regarding the alleged issue and may have resolved the issue by reactivating the webpage iOS 6 uses for network verification purposes.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple to add “Wi-Fi Plus Cellular” feature in iOS 6

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 11:38
Category: iOS, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, a new feature that appears to be making its way to iOS 6 this fall aims to automatically detect these hiccups and toggle your iPhone back to cellular data until the Wi-Fi network clears up. This way, some of your most important data and applications will keep on syncing.

Dubbed ‘Wi-Fi Plus Cellular,’ the feature is listed under General->Cellular systems setting pane in the latest beta of iOS 6. If it makes it into the final release of the software, you’ll be able to tell your iPhone to automatically revert back to cellular data to keep your iCloud Documents, iTunes purchases, Passbook and Reading Lists up to date.

In much the same way, it will also attempt to keep your FaceTime video conferences from dropping on an iPhone 4S or greater (the FaceTime toggle does not show up on iPhone 4 or earlier). It’s not yet clear, however, how individual carriers will handle cellular data use for FaceTime, as an earlier finding from within the iOS 6 betas indicated that AT&T may charge for the capability, which is currently limited to WiFi in iOS 5.

Either way, the potential new feature underscores Apple’s drive to equip customers with the best possible user experience where things ‘just work.’ It’s joined by other additions in the latest iOS 6 beta that are similarly designed to keep users connected, including a Bluetooth Sharing feature and an option to be notified when someone subscribed to one of your shared calendars makes an update.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple advises iOS developers on temporary fix for in-app purchase hack

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Date: Monday, July 23rd, 2012, 06:02
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Apple on Friday issued a note to developers outlining a fix for an in-app purchasing exploit that allowed for the free download of for-pay content, and also announced that the loophole will be plugged when iOS 6 is released this fall.

Per CNET, in its support document for iOS app developers, Apple recommends that apps featuring in-app purchases follow a set of guidelines that includes confirming orders with the company’s new receipt system.

The receipt validation protocol, which Apple unveiled on Wednesday, attaches a “unique identifier” to in-app purchase receipts. This tactic effectively thwarts the recently-discovered workaround that validated dubious “purchases” by routing them to a specialized DNS server and spoofing digital receipts. Previous to the discovery, Apple sent generic receipts containing no unique user data.

“We recommend developers follow best practices at developer.apple.com to help ensure they are not vulnerable to fraudulent In-App purchases,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. “This will also be addressed with iOS 6.”

Friday’s document includes instructions on how to setup and use Apple’s new validation system as well as how to validate transactions that have already gone through.

From the document:
“A vulnerability has been discovered in iOS 5.1 and earlier related to validating in-app purchase receipts by connecting to the App Store server directly from an iOS device. An attacker can alter the DNS table to redirect these requests to a server controlled by the attacker. Using a certificate authority controlled by the attacker and installed on the device by the user, the attacker can issue a SSL certificate that fraudulently identifies the attacker’s server as an App Store server. When this fraudulent server is asked to validate an invalid receipt, it responds as if the receipt were valid.”

As part of the damage control measures, Apple allowed apps to access certain non-public APIs pertaining to verification and security services.

Along with the support document Apple sent out an email to developers noting the exploit will be patched in iOS 6 when the mobile operating system is released alongside an expected next-generation iPhone sometime this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 3 to developer community

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Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 12:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t have a final version without a few betas…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday supplied developers with the third beta of iOS 6, arriving three weeks after the previous beta build, adding new features like expanded settings for the Maps application..

Developers can now download iOS 6 beta 3 from Software Update on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In addition, full downloads are also available from Apple’s developer portal.

Sources familiar with the latest build indicated that there are new options in the Settings application for Apple’s new Maps software. Specifically, the third beta now allows developers to customize certain aspects like the volume of turn-by-turn navigation, and whether to measure distances in miles or kilometers.

The last update, which arrived in late June, included a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance. iOS 6 beta 3 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch. The final software will be released to the public this fall.

iOS 6 was formally announced last month at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Developers were also provided with the first beta after its unveiling, allowing them to test their applications before the formal public launch this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Navigon iOS app updates to 2.1, goes on sale, now incorporates Google Street View feature

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Date: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012, 11:05
Category: iOS, News, Software

Some of you are going to miss the Google Street View feature when it’s gone.

Navigon seems to be aware of this.

Per Engadget, Navigon has updated its iOS navigation app to version 2.1 and added Google Street View, which will be dropped from Apple’s Maps app in its forthcoming iOS 6 release. To celebrate the update, the Navigon app can be had for savings as much as US$20 off its normal US$50 price depending on the version chosen. In-app purchases including FreshMaps USA can be had for as low as US$15, a saving of US$25 off the normal asking price.

Google Street View allows users to navigate to a destination and then load the street view within the app, so that users can find an address or location much more easily when they have arrived at the approximate destination. The street view offers users the full 360-degree view.

Navigon has also added a new manual route blocking function to the app. By blocking out certain sections of a route by simply tapping on that part of a generated route, the app will know to quickly search for an alternative route. It can be accessed from the route-planning mode and during navigation for easy route changes on the fly.

The company has added a new Cockpit function as an in-app purchase, currently on special for US$4 (normally US$7). The displayed information includes a vehicles g-force (current and maximum value), speed, horizontal and vertical position, as well as an adjustable speed and altitude graph. The information can be used to give a driver a snapshot of their driving habits, while off-road users will also benefit from a dedicated off-road screen with compass and altitude information.

Navigon 2.1 requires iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

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