O'Grady's PowerPage » iOS

Apple hiring additional engineers for Maps team, will include “Frequent Locations” feature in iOS 7

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 08:33
Category: News, Software

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It’s Apple’s jobs page that tends to point to where things are going.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is actively recruiting for scores of new full time jobs related to Maps. The company also plans to enlist the support of its installed base of 400 million iOS users with an opt-in invitation to “Help Improve Maps” in iOS 7.

Part of the initial setup of iOS 7 includes an option to “Help Improve Maps,” which as Apple explains, ties into Frequent Locations, a new feature of iOS 7.

Frequent Locations remembers places you’ve been, similar to the the bookmarks history of your web browser, is are presented next to Maps Bookmarks and locations attached to Contacts (below left).

Users who choose to activate both features will have their Frequent Locations linked to their iCloud / Apple ID account so the system can automatically calculate driving (or walking) directions to locations as users select them in Maps (below right, directions to Mavericks).

Apple also benefits from anonymously storing coordinate information because it helps the company verify how accurate its driving time estimates are, by comparing them to the actual time it takes users to arrive.

Apple’s Jobs website currently returns dozens of open positions related to Maps. Among these are a series of Maps Ground Truth Local Experts, in listings that state that “the Maps team is looking for people with a passion for mapping, great testing skills, and deep regional knowledge to help us build better and better maps.

“In this position, you will be responsible for the quality assessment of Apple Maps for your region, including both data and map services. You will monitor changes to our maps, provide feedback on unique local map requirements, collect ground truth information, and evaluate competing products.”

Apple currently lists openings for ground truth local experts in Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles in the U.S., as well as European positions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Istanbul, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, the U.K. and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, Australia and Southeast Asia, China, and specific Asian cities that include Beijing, Hong Kong, Sapporo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Osaka.

The company also lists a series of open positions based in or around Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, ranging from scientists to pour through its reams of geodata to QA staff to find bugs and a variety of specialized engineers to develop new features. These include:

Maps Bug Triage Engineer: “Maps problems are challenging to triage and debug. When a business is in the wrong location on the map, the issue could be anything from the address being wrong in our data to the conversion of the address to a latitude and longitude not working properly. We’re looking for engineers to help triage internal problem reports, reproduce problems, and help us learn how to diagnose and triage problems better”

Maps Services QA Manager: “To test Maps well, we need to understand how the world is reflected in code and data, and also how to build great QA systems. Some tests can only be done manually, while other areas can only be covered adequately through large-scale automation.”

Maps Process QA Engineer: “Maps is an interconnected series of services that each have their own teams working to create the best user experience possible. It can be challenging to understand all the working pieces let alone understand their QA needs. We’re looking for individuals who can help bridge the gap and document the unique QA requirements needed for each service.”

Maps Process QA Analyst: “In this role you’ll work directly with Process QA Engineers and you’ll learn something about how every part of Maps works. You’ll be testing and documenting the QA processes involved in qualifying every component. ” “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Large Scale Data Mining, Network Analysis, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Modeling. These skills are required for developing models for identifying patterns and anomalies and for mining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.”

Maps Senior Data Scientist: “The Maps Data Insights team has an opening for a craftsman skilled in Large Scale Data Mining and Machine Learning for making significant contributions in improving Apple Maps, involving the following techniques: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Large Scale Data Mining, Network Analysis, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Modeling. These skills are required for developing models for identifying patterns and anomalies and for mining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.”

Software Engineer – Maps Navigation: “The Maps team is looking for a proactive and motivated software engineer to focus on Apple’s turn-by-turn navigation experience.”

Maps Web Applications Engineer: “If you are motivated by building applications that will be used by millions of people and have a penchant for visual details, this is an opportunity to build web applications that will help engage the community and internal teams to visualize maps data and to solicit input to improve the maps quality.”

iOS Software Engineers – Maps (multiple positions): As an engineer on the Maps team, your responsibilities will be working with advanced dynamic label layout of road labels, points of interest and other labels on the map; rendering of 3D flyover models, mesh generation of terrain, road rendering; implementing real-time rendering techniques, creating new and innovative features, solving challenging algorithmic problems and fixing problems. You will be working both on the client and the server to create a state of the art map.”

“The MapKit team is looking for a proactive and hardworking software engineer to join our team. We are looking for an engineer that’s skilled with algorithms related to mapping. Familiarity with different spatial algorithms and data structures, such as R Trees, Quad Trees, BSP Trees are a big plus.”

Maps Software Engineer – Hadoop: “The Maps Data Insights team is chartered to look at various data signals, derive insights regarding map quality, and use those insights to drive improvements in Maps. Combining disparate signals such as community feedback and probe data to validate our maps is an opportunity that combines large scale data processing, analytics and visualization.”

Maps POI- Big Data Engineer: “Use Big Data technologies to extract data from existing NoSQL systems into system that can generate reports needed by business. Create unique ways to visualize and move our data.”

Maps Raster Data Domain Expert: “You’ll be guiding maps and LBS quality measurement, visualization, and analysis to derive actionable insights through raster analysis, classification, and feature extraction. You will approach map data and location-based service (LBS) quality metrics with the creativity and inquisitiveness of a scientist — identifying and incorporating various geospatial, big data, and other resources. You will collaborate with excellent developers, system architects, regional experts, project managers, and other domain experts.”

Maps Traffic Accuracy Domain Expert: “The Maps Community and Data Insights team is chartered to analyze various data signals, generate insights, and leverage them to improve Apple Maps. In this role, you’ll be guiding maps and LBS quality measurement, visualization, and analysis to derive actionable insights on traffic data quality.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Netflix to add multi-user profiles to subscriber accounts

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2013, 06:40
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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This may cut down on some potential arguments in the future.

Per AppleInsider, Netflix on Thursday rolled out a long-awaited feature to its iOS and Apple TV apps, allowing subscribers to maintain separate profiles for individual users sharing one account.

Subscribers will be able to add up to five profiles for each account they own. Profiles will receive unique personalized suggestions based on viewing habits and ratings.

More importantly, those individual accounts will each have their own Instant Queue and Recently Watched lists. For example, parents will no longer have to share a queue with their children, or even spouses with each other, if they so choose.

Each personal profile can also be attached to a different Facebook account, allowing for personalized suggestions from that individual’s friends on the social networking site.

Netflix has promised that the new user profiles will roll out to iPad, iPhone and Apple TV “over the next few days.” Other devices set to receive support in the immediate future are Sony’s PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and newer Smart TV and Blu-ray players. Support for Nintendo Wii and Android has been promised to arrive “soon.”

User profiles first began appearing on the Apple TV set-top box earlier this week as part of a test run. That roll-out coincidentally happened after the launch of a new Apple TV software beta, leading some to incorrectly assume the two were related. Current Apple TV owners will receive the feature without needing to run a pre-release beta.

Competition in the mobile streaming space is heating up, with Google’s newly released US$35 Chromecast dongle offering users the ability to stream content from an iPhone or Android device directly to their TV. While less fully featured than the Apple TV, the device is available at about a third of the price.

The price of a refurbished Apple TV direct from Apple also hit a new low this week, and is now available for just US$75, knocking 25 percent off the cost of a new model. A new Apple TV software update, expected to arrive this fall, will also give users the ability to purchase music directly from the device.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you try this new Netflix account feature and have any feedback to offer, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Rumor: Retina Display iPad mini could arrive later this year with displays from Samsung, new back colors a possibility

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2013, 06:00
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

At this point, it’s still a rumor.

But it’s a sexy rumor.

Per 9to5Mac and the Wall Street Journal, Apple is sourcing components from Samsung to produce a Retina Display version of the iPad mini later this year. Screens from Sharp and LG Display will also be used. Apple is apparently also considering multi-colored back plates for the iPad mini. This sounds similar to what Apple offers on the latest iPod touch models. Earlier today, it had been reported that Apple will be sourcing components for its next chipset from Samsung.

Recent reports indicated that developers had located references to a likely non-Retina iPad mini with an A6 processor in iOS 7 code. It’s likely that this model, as has been mentioned earlier, could simply be an internal-only device that never ships, or an iPad mini update that Apple once planned, yet scrapped. Perhaps the recent introduction of the ultra-high resolution Nexus 7 tablet escalated Apple’s need to ship the much wanted Retina iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Latest Apple TV beta allows for iOS device pairing, NFC-like setup

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

It’s been proven time and time again: the beta versions show the cool stuff that’s en route.

Per 9to5Mac, the latest beta version of iOS 7 for mobile devices and Apple TV introduces a new method of pairing your iOS device’s Remote app with your Apple TV. Previously, the pairing procedure required the use of the regular infrared remote that comes with the Apple TV. The new beta allows the user to simply tap the phone on the Apple TV to connect using Bluetooth. The feature requires a Bluetooth 4.0-capable device, which means only more recent iOS devices are supported.

It’s possible that Apple is using this setup process as a testing platform to decide whether Bluetooth 4.0 could be used as a method of authorizing payments, much like NFC is used on many Android phones. While Phil Schiller noted last year that he did not believe NFC was a critical feature for the iPhone, perhaps Apple is making plans to add NFC-style features via Bluetooth instead. The company could also be considering a tap-to-share AirDrop much like the “bump” feature seen on recent Nexus devices and other Android phones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 7 beta 4 code strings point towards forthcoming fingerprint recognition feature

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 12:44
Category: News, Software

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It’s the beta code that tells you where things are going.

Per Electronista, code strings buried in iOS 7 beta 4 suggests that one or more next-generation iOS devices will indeed have fingerprint sensors. An unused folder in the firmware, discovered by Hamza Sood, is titled “BiometricKitUI.axb.” Accompanying code strings moreover make reference to a “Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb,” a percentage completion meter for fingerprint recognition, and “a fingerprint that changes colour [sic] during the setup process.”

Apple has been expected to add a fingerprint sensor to iOS devices ever since it bought out AuthenTec last year. It was unclear if Apple would have the technology ready for this year however, and indeed Apple could simply be laying the groundwork for 2014 devices. At the same time, rumors have sometimes pointed to an iPhone 5S getting fingerprint recognition, and there would be competitive advantages.

On a basic level, the feature could let people unlock an iPhone or iPad without having to enter a passcode. It could also enable multiple user accounts however, since iOS would be able to automatically differentiate users. If Apple brings NFC to the iPhone, if might permit an upgraded Passbook app to make transactions, instead of just store coupons, tickets, and passes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple advises Chinese customers to avoid counterfeits, opt for genuine Apple products after charger-related incidents

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Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s best to stick with the genuine article.

After a pair of iPhone-related electrocutions in China allegedly caused by unauthorized third-party chargers, Apple has added a section to its Chinese website helping users identify official iOS device chargers as well as advised users to charge its devices with genuine Apple chargers according to CNET.

The page offers a look at official charger designs for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, and iPad 2.

The website notes that Apple “always” puts the safety of its users first, and that products are “subject to stringent safety and reliability testing.” The official chargers that come packaged with new iPhones and iPads are also designed to meet government safety standards from around the world.

The site comes after a pair of dangerous charger-related incidents occurred in China this month. In the more serious example, a woman died while using an iPhone 5 that was plugged into the wall to charge with a non-Apple adapter.

In the second incident, a man ended up in a coma after he was accidentally electrocuted using a third-party charger with his iPhone 4. It was said that the man was using a “counterfeit” adapter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint partners with Raketu Communications, works to bring caption calling feature to iOS devices via app

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Sprint on Tuesday announced the availability of a new accessibility feature aimed at helping iPad and iPhone owners on that network with hearing loss better use their devices.

Partnering with Raketu Communications, Sprint has developed Wireless CapTel for installation on the phones and tablets of the hearing-impaired. Wireless CapTel allows users to read conversations with real-time word-for-word captions displayed on the screen of their phone.

Users download the Wireless CapTel app from the iTunes App Store. The app is free with an Everything Data plan on Sprint.

After installation of the app, calls to the device will automatically connect to the CapTel service when an outgoing call is made. The service listens to what the caller on the other end says and automatically transcribes that into text the user can read.

The service does require that users give out the special number that routes calls through CapTel in order to have all calls transcribed.

Wireless CapTel is a Sprint-exclusive feature, and the carrier is rolling it out for some Android devices as well.

The CapTel app requires an iOS device running iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new Wireless CapTel service on your iPhone and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple purchases HopStop, could focus on public transit and navigation updates for upcoming versions of Maps

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:47
Category: News, Software

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Apple has snagged HopStop.

Per AppleInsider and AllThingsD, Apple on Friday purchased transit navigation service HopStop, which also has an iPhone app of the same name, in a possible bid to bolster its own in-house mapping solution.

Citing sources with knowledge of the deal, Bloomberg reports that Apple has just purchased HopStop, a localized public transit navigation service that could potentially be folded into the company’s Maps iOS app, and the upcoming OS X Mavericks version.

If the report is accurate, HopStop’s technology could be used by Apple to build out its Maps app, offering users directions for bus, train, subway and other transit options. The current version of Maps does not include such functionality, and instead points users searching for public transit routes toward third-party apps that can handle such tasks. Along with supporting transit information for over 300 major cities, HopStop also includes walking, car and bicycle routing.

News of the reported purchase comes just hours after Apple announced it had acquired Locationary, a tech startup that uses crowd-sourced data to offer accurate and up-to-date listings of local businesses.

Apple’s Maps has been the source of much debate since it was launched with iOS 6 in 2012. Incorrect data, graphical glitches and navigation issues plagued the app during its first few months in the wild. The company is still working hard to bring the mapping solution up to snuff, as evidenced by the acquisitions.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases native Outlook Web Application for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 08:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

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You may not love it, but your workplace does and Microsoft finally released a native version for iOS.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released two different native versions of its Outlook Web Application for iOS, one for iPhone and one for iPad. OWA for iOS connects to the email, calendar, and contacts of Office 365 of business subscribers giving them complete access to their Outlook on the go. Beyond those basic tools the app features push notifications and a powerful voice search that can access your contacts or bring up your calendar.

iOS for iPhone and iPad requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Google Maps app for iOS hits version 2.0, adds slew of new features

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:44
Category: iOS, News, Software

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The new version tends to offer something cool.

Per 9to5Mac, Google began rolling out version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS on Wednesday. Most notably, the new application includes support for the large touch screens found on the iPad and iPad mini.

Additionally, like with the recent update to the Android version, enhanced navigation with incident reports and live traffic updates are included.

Also new is an “Explore” function to browse popular places such as restaurants, shopping, playing, and sleeping. This feature is integrated with Zagat ratings and deals via Google Offers.

The 2.0 update also includes indoor mapping functionality for malls, transit stations, and airports, according to Google. The new update has begun rolling out to some countries in Asia, but is not yet available in the United States. In fact, Google Maps is currently unavailable to download in the App Store for many countries until this update is released.

Google Maps ia available for free and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.