Apple to transition from Google Maps to its own solution for iOS later this year

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

You’ll get from point A to point B, just via Apple’s way of doing it.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has made plans to break from Google Maps and use its own technology for the native Maps app on iOS later this year and could announce the feature at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Present and former Apple employees revealed to The Wall Street Journal that the Cupertino, Calif., company is set to bump Google’s maps service from its mobile OS. Apple would instead “release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology,” the report said.

One source suggested that Apple may show off the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next week. The company is reportedly looking to convince third-party application developers to implement its technology into their offerings.

The report went on to note that, according to tipsters at Apple, the plan to oust Google Maps has been in motion for years. The rapid rise of Android sales is believed to have quickened the pace of Apple’s plans.

The iPhone maker’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

The company also revealed last April that it was collecting data for a crowd-sourced “improved traffic service” for iPhone users. Given that the revelation came as a result of a location data controversy, Apple’s comments have been taken as referring to street traffic, though the company declined to provide further details.

Small steps have been taken to gradually wean iOS off Google Maps. In 2010, Apple notified U.S. senators that, beginning with iOS 3.2, it had begun relying on “its own databases” for location-based services and diagnostic purposes. In March, it was discovered that Apple had switched to OpenStreetMaps for the maps in its iPhoto iOS app.

Apple’s reported switch comes as location services are quickly attracting a significant percentage of advertising dollars. According to the Journal, Opus Research projects map- or location-related ads will comprise 25 percent of the estimated US$2.5 billion that will be spent on mobile ads this year. However, the report suggested that Apple’s move isn’t just about the money.

“But more than ad revenue, Apple is going after the map market to have more control over a key asset in the widening smartphone war,” the report read, noting that 90 percent of American iPhone owners use Google Maps. “So Apple believes controlling the mapping experience and offering features that Google doesn’t have can help sell more devices and entice developers to build unique apps for iPhone users.”

The maps issue has taken on greater importance as the relationship between Apple and Google has become increasingly complicated. The two companies were close partners for years, but have grown apart as they have become fierce competitors in several key markets, such as smartphones, tablets and advertising.

According to the report, Apple became concerned in 2008 that Google may have been compromising user privacy with its map program. Google executives, on the other hand, reportedly felt Apple was being too controlling. The Mountain View, Calif., search company is believed to have angered Apple leaders by withholding the Street View and turn-by-turn navigation features. Its demands were for better branding within the app and incorporation of its Latitude service, which Apple was unwilling to integrate.

The disagreement served as the impetus for Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ search for acquisitions to build out the company’s own mapping team, the report noted. The group from Poly9 allegedly became a secretive “geo” team within Apple. The employees were said to have built a new geocoder to replace Google’s own and began using it last fall.

Google hasn’t been sitting still either, though. Last week, the company sent out invites for an event that will show off the “next dimension of Google Maps.” The wording of the invite has prompted speculation that the company will announce new 3D features for its mapping service. The event comes just days before Apple kicks off its WWDC confab on June 11.

A bevy of reports have claimed that Apple will take the wraps off a new 3D mapping technology at WWDC. Last month, one report cited sources as saying the solution would “blow your head off.”

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said last week that his research points to the unveiling of a “greatly enhanced” Maps application with 3D capability next week. The new service has reportedly been developed in-house.

“We hear the key reason why AAPL decided to do this is that it believes it can deliver a much better use experience in Maps, not to mention provide further differentiation for its mobile devices business,” Wu said.

Apple is also expected to showcase new Macs, iOS 6 and new camera and photo apps at the conference.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft Office for iPad to arrive on November 10th

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 10:58
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s a rumor…but it’s a more specific rumor.

And that can’t be a bad thing.

Per The Daily, the development team at Microsoft finished work on the project last month. The design team responsible for Office on iPad was also said to have wrapped their work soon after.

“The app is now in the hands of a usability team that appraises software that utilizes the Metro design language for ‘Metro compliance’ and suggests changes as needed,” reporter Matt Hickey wrote. “When approved by the team, the app likely will go to Apple for app store approval, which could take a couple of weeks.”

While development of the application is apparently near finished, Thursday’s report did not give any indication as to why Microsoft will wait more than five months to release the application on Nov. 10. The story corroborates with a report from last week that claimed Microsoft’s industry leading productivity suite will be coming to the iPad and Android-based tablets in November.

Word first surfaced late last year that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

The Daily first shared what was said to be a picture of Office for iPad in action in February. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and portrayed it as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

Exact components and features within Office for iPad are still in flux/the rumor mill, but stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst states that next-gen MacBook Pro could use NAND storage system

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 06:00
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The components found on the next generation of MacBook Pro notebooks could be that much more interesting.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ben Reitzes of Barclays Equity Research said that the adoption rate of Apple devices using SSDs, along with a continuing move to cloud computing, will push consumer notebook demand toward flash-based storage.

Perhaps the single greatest setback to flash adoption is that the price of solid state solutions grossly outweigh comparable HDDs, keeping the technology out of reach for everyday consumers. This cost ratio may tilt in the physical hard drive’s favor, however consumers have recently started giving up storage space and low cost for design and performance benefits, evidenced by the success of the thin and light MacBook Air.

Reitzes believes that the advent of cloud computing will help ease consumers in the transition from physical drives to flash by offloading storage to servers, thus diminishing the need for pricey high-capacity NAND drives. Apple’s iCloud is already well in-place and has the potential of filling offsite storage needs if the company chooses to move to a NAND-heavy laptop lineup.

For these reasons, the analyst expects Apple to reveal a NAND-equipped MacBook Pro as well as MacBook Airs with increased storage options in the near future.

“We believe these products combined can ramp quarterly demand for Macs by up to 1 million incremental units on a run rate basis – taking over a point of share from HDD-based PCs,” Reitzes said.

The report goes on to say that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of notebook PC sales have been cannibalized by NAND-carrying iPads and iPhones, further impacting HDD demand for PCs. The move to portable products has been dubbed as the “post-PC era,” as consumers begin to replace computers with tablets and handset. Interestingly, this trend toward flash in consumer devices is seen as fueling data growth, which helps to augment sales of enterprise-class HDDs.

Hard drive makers won’t be the only ones to be affected by the trend toward cloud computing and flash storage, and Dell acknowledged earlier in May that PC demand was slowing due to the strong performance of tablets and smartphones. If rumors pan out, the PC market could see further pressure with Apple’s debut of a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad later this year.

It is expected that Apple will outline its intentions for iCloud and possibly introduce a revamped MacBook Pro lineup at WWDC in June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone schematics surface, show possible 4″ display, repositioned FaceTime camera

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 08:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to build something, you probably need a schematic.

Per 9to5 Mac, a set of black and white schematics of what are purported to be the next-generation iPhone have been discovered. The schematics show assorted new features of the device such as the redesigned speaker grills, and repositioned earphone jack and FaceTime camera, exact display dimensions are still unknown. The plans show what appears to be the next-generation iPhone front glass with enough room for the much rumored, roughly 4-inch display.

On Wednesday, new schematics have surfaced via Cydia Blog that show a diagonal opening of just slightly over 4-inches. The designs also show the repositioned FaceTime camera above the earpiece.



Although calculations of the display show an opening less than .1 of an inch over 4-inches, the display could likely measure a flat 4-inches diagonally as the front panel is typically slightly larger than the display itself.

All this is up in the air right now, but hey…schematics!!!

Apple TV OS may surface at WWDC

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 06:00
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor, Software

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Even an HDTV may need its own custom operating system.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple may show off an updated version of its Apple TV operating system at next week’s World Wide Developer Conference.

The new version is expected to be packed with more features, and will be the version of the OS on Apple’s rumored upcoming HDTV, the report says. Apple is reportedly talking to manufacturers about using a new “control out” application programming interface that allows accessories to work with the new Apple TV operating system and television. The idea is to allow users to control any component with an Apple remote.

The article also stated that Apple won’t be showing the HDTV at WWDC. The show is expected to feature an updated version of its iOS mobile platform, and likely the debut of updated MacBook notebooks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Purported screenshots show possible new mapping functions in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:46
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor, Software

They’re not the most elegant pictures and they’re even a bit blurry, but they ARE interesting.

Per Boy Genius Report, a collection of blurry photos claim to reveal Apple’s redesigned Maps application, expected to be a major component of the anticipated iOS 6 update for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The five pictures claiming to show the new iOS 6 Maps application were credited to a “trusted source,” and hint at a redesigned user interface with a silver color scheme, rather than the current blue.



The new Maps application will reportedly feature a button in the bottom left corner with two options: a “locate me” feature,” and quick access to a new 3D mode. Apple’s 3D mapping solution is expected to be driven by the acquisition of C3 Technologies in 2011.

The 3D mapping functionality is said to be near complete, and is being tested in a build of iOS 6 reportedly labeled “10A3XX.”

Details on the anticipated revamped iOS Maps application first surfaced earlier this month, claiming that the 3D mapping functionality will be a key component of Apple’s new in-house solution. The new Maps application is expected to be shown off as part of an iOS 6 demonstration at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held June 11 through 15 in San Francisco, Calif.

Apple’s plan to move away from Google and develop its own proprietary mapping solution has been a long time in the making. The company’s plans were first signaled in 2009, when it purchased Placebase, a competitor to Google Maps.

And in 2010, Apple bought Poly9, another mapping company, and began using its own location databases for the Maps application with the launch of iOS 3.2 for the first-generation iPad. Another key acquisition came in 2011, when Apple bought C3 Technologies, a Sweden-based 3D mapping company.

Another key component of the anticipated Maps overhaul in iOS 6 could be traffic. Apple publicly announced last April that it was “collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database,” for an “improved traffic service” that would launch in “the next couple of years.”

In addition to a 3D mapping button, the purported iOS 6 Maps pictures revealed on Tuesday also include a button for “Directions,” which could include Apple’s in-the-works traffic service to aid in turn-by-turn driving directions. The pictures also show a different look for the mapping data that is similar to the OpenStreetMap data Apple began using with the release of iPhoto for iOS in March.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins manufacturing first batch of HDTV units

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:20
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

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Apple’s HDTV units might be en route relatively soon.

Per China Business News, Apple this month is reported to have begun production of the first prototypes of its much-anticipated connected television sets at one of its overseas manufacturing facilities ahead of a general production ramp expected to begin late in the 2012 calendar year.

The news, which was attributed to “informed sources”, was picked up and translated by the WantChinaTimes web site earlier on Monday.

In particular, the publication cited its sources as saying that this initial build plan is taking place in one of Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants as a trial production run, which typically produces a small number of assembly-line-quality prototypes for Apple to put through its design test verification stages. No further details were reported.

While Apple’s foray into the big-screen, connected TV business has been a popular topic of discussion amongst industry watchers for several years, few — if any — reliable details surrounding the project have surfaced outside of a claim by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ secret to a simple HDTV.

Jobs’s vision for a connected TV, disclosed vaguely to Isaacson prior to his passing last October, would see the device synced with all of a user’s devices, and with Apple’s iCloud service.

The simplified HDTV would reportedly spare users from having to use complex remotes for multiple devices like DVD players and cable boxes. More specifically, Isaacson wrote in the best-selling biography that Jobs “wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”

Earlier this month, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his manufacturing firm was “making preparations” for an Apple television, but development or manufacturing had not yet begun. But days later, Gou issued a statement to reporters in which he backtracked on those claims, stating that “[a]ny reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Production effort towards 2012 MacBooks creating labor shortage in/around China

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The good news is that Apple’s 2012 notebooks seem to be under construction.

The bad news is that this doesn’t really help the regional labor markets.

Per DigiTimes, anticipated demand for Apple’s redesigned line of 2012 MacBooks is reportedly so strong that the company’s Far Eastern component suppliers are facing a labor shortage as they race to produce enough parts to supply the Mac maker’s production lines.

The publication added that the shortages come in the face of preemptive efforts by some of the suppliers to outsource production of their component orders in order to be able to meet the “strong orders from Apple” for the new notebooks, due “in the near future.”

“Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry’s traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple’s new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand.”

Some of these part suppliers began delivering their first wave of components for the company’s new MacBooks as early as April, with shipments for the notebooks’ new chassis reportedly increasing this month. The supply chain is expected to ramp even faster next month ahead of a ‘possible launch’ of the computers by Apple in July.

In total, DigiTimes said suppliers expect Apple’s total MacBook orders in 2012 to jump from 12.79 million in 2011 to between 16.24 and 19.2 million in 2012 — a run rate that would see Apple sell an average of over 4 million notebook systems each quarter. By comparison, Apple sold an average of 3.2 million notebook systems per quarter in 2011.

The report did not mention anything regarding an updated MacBook Air notebook or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros that have long been reported to adopt similar enclosures and design traits.

However, a quick analysis of the production figures outline in the article suggests the sources are referring to combined production of both new MacBook families, as Apple in January reported total sales of 12.87 million notebook systems during calendar year 2011, which roughly coincides with the 12.79 million production figure.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPad version of Microsoft Office to hit this November

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Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:23
Category: iPad, Rumor, Software

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Some pretty decent stuff comes out in November (including Thanksgiving), so perhaps a long-awaited version of Microsoft Office for iOS is in order.

Per Boy Genius Report, a “reliable source” stated on Wednesday that Microsoft is planning to release the full Office suite for iPad later this year. The loading screen for the application reportedly says “Office for iOS,” which could suggest that it will also be compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch.

A version of Office for Android tablets will also reportedly debut in November alongside an iOS version. Other details on the software, such as pricing or features, remain unknown.

Word first surfaced last November that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

Rumors of Office for iPad appeared again this February, when iPad news publication The Daily shared what was said to be a version of Office for iPad in action. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and accompanying picture, portraying them as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

February’s report suggested that a version of Office for iPad would “soon” be submitted to Apple for review, suggesting it would appear on the App Store relatively quickly. However, since then, no word of an Office for iPad has surfaced.

That report also claimed that Word, Excel and PowerPoint files could be created and edited both locally and online with the iPad version of Office. It was reported as “unclear” whether Microsoft would support other Office applications, such as Outlook or Communicator.

Microsoft already offers a number of software options for iOS, including OneNote, Bing, SkyDrive, My Xbox Live, and the game Kinectimals.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone to incorporate larger display, part of Steve Jobs’ final effort

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:29
Category: iPhone, Rumor

This whole thing about the next-gen iPhone containing a larger screen? It might be what Steve Jobs would have wanted.

According to Bloomberg, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs “worked closely on” the upcoming iPhone before he died. According to sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the Cupertino, Calif., company has ordered from suppliers screens that are “bigger than the 3.5-inch size” that the iPhone has sported since its debut in 2007.

“Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had worked closely on the redesigned phone before his death in October,” the report noted one person as saying. Another source said that Jobs had played a “key role in developing” Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

If Apple were to perform a major redesign of the iPhone, it would be the device’s first since the iPhone 4 arrived in mid-2010. The previous design, that of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, was also kept for two years before the current form factor was introduced.

With three mainstream media outlets reporting similar claims in the same week, the likelihood that Apple will expand the screen on its best-selling handset appears high. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal said that LG Display, Sharp and the newly-created Japan Display are readying production lines for 4-inch displays bound for Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone. Reuters then noted that production of the new screens could begin as soon as next month, ahead of full production of the next-generation iPhone in August.

Pundits have suggested that Apple’s interest in a larger-screen iPhone comes in response to pressure from ever-increasing screen sizes of competing Android handsets. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy S II, the most popular Android phone according to one recent study, has a 4.8-inch screen. The Galaxy Note, also by Samsung, is a hybrid smartphone and tablet with its 5.3-inch display.

Apple is widely expected to bring a new iPhone to market this fall, roughly one year after the iPhone 4S went on sale. Sources have disagreed, however, on whether the device’s launch will come in September or October.

Multiple reports have also suggested that the 2012 iPhone could make the jump to 4G LTE. Apple is expected to make use of new LTE chipsets from Qualcomm with improvements to power consumption over the previous generation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.