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.

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.

Apple releases iOS 6.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 09:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

The wait is over.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-anticipated iOS 6.0 update. The new operating system, a 912 megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

Maps:
- Apple designed vector based maps.
- Turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation).
- Real-time traffic information.
- Flyover for photo-realistic, interactive 3D views of major metro areas on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation), and iPod touch (5th generation).
- Local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews, and available deals.
- Siri integration for requesting directions and finding places along a route.

Siri improvements:
- Sports: scores, player stats, game schedules, team rosters, and league standings for baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey.
- Movies: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts.
- Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information.
- Send a Tweet.
- Post on Facebook.
- App launch.
- Eyes Free in supported automobiles.
- Local search available in Siri supported countries (availability may be limited during initial rollout).
- Additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish).
- Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation).

Facebook integration:
- Single sign-on from Settings.
- Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Center and Siri.
- Add location and choose audience for any post.
- View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts.
- View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar.
- Like content and see your friends’ Likes in App Store and iTunes Store.

Shared Photo Streams
- Share selected photos with the people you choose.
- Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV.
- Friends can like and make comments on individual photos.

Passbook:
- One place for boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets and other passes.
- Barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into movies and other actions.
- Passes displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location.
- Passes can be automatically updated.
- Supported on iPhone and iPod touch.

FaceTime improvements:
- FaceTime over cellular support for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation).
- Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch.

Phone improvements:
- Do Not Disturb to suppress incoming calls and notifications.
- ‘Reply with message’ option when declining a call.
- ‘Remind me later’ option based on time or location when declining a call.

Mail improvements:
- VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from important people.
- Flagged email mailbox.
- Insert photos and videos when composing email.
- Open password protected Office docs.
- Pull down to refresh mailboxes.
- Per account signatures.

Safari improvements:
- iCloud tabs to see open pages on all your devices.
- Offline Reading List.
- Photo upload support.
- Full screen landscape view on iPhone and iPod touch.
- Smart app banners.
- JavaScript performance improvements.

App Store and iTunes Store improvements:
- Updated store design.
- iTunes Preview history.
- Complete my season.
- Complete my album.

Game Center improvements:
- Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements.
- Post high-scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter.
- Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends.

Accessibility improvements:
- Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen.
- VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom.
- Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

- Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth.

- Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app.

- Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone.

- Clock app for iPad.

- Clock alarm with song.

- Search all fields in Contacts.

- Automatic movie mode for improved video sound quality.

- Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

- New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic.

- Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud.

- Bluetooth MAP support.

- Global network proxy for HTTP.

Features for China:
- Baidu web search.
- Sina Weibo integration.
- Share videos to Tudou.
- Share videos to Youku.
- Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin.

- Bug fixes.

iOS 6.0 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second or third-gen iPad to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.0 works for you, no matter what the feedback may be.

Samsung begins fabricating 128GB storage modules for mobile devices

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Hardware, News

Samsung may have a stinging legal bill after the Apple fiasco, but this isn’t to say they don’t have some damn cool stuff coming down the line.

Per Electronista, the company’s semiconductor wing has started fabricating 128GB flash storage chips and 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules for mobile devices. Currently, most high-end smartphones are shipping with a maximum of 64GB of internal storage, leaving users with media-heavy libraries unable to take their music collections with them. The introduction of the new modules should go a long way to alleviating this problem, although pricing will remain a key factor in adoption.

Its new 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules are built on Samsung’s new 30nm process, enabling 2GB modules to be made on the one package for the first time. The new chips run at 1600 Mbps, which is a 50 percent speed boost over LPDDR2 DRAM packages. Samsung claims that it will enable real-time decoding of 1080p content on smartphones and tablets.

With manufacturing ramping of both memory modules ramping up now, it could align perfectly for the rumored appearance of a Galaxy S III successor, which it is suggested may show as soon as February 2013 at the Mobile World Congress.

In short…imagine a 128GB iOS device somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple discontinues iPhone 3GS handset

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Date: Friday, September 14th, 2012, 07:12
Category: iPhone, News

3gs.jpg

It had a good run.

On Thursday, Apple officially confirmed the discontinuation of the iPhone 3GS handset, according to All Things D.

The iPhone 3GS been since replaced by the iPhone 4 as its free on-contract handset.

Last year, with the launch of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 3GS became Apple’s first free smartphone with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. At that price, it helped Apple reach a lower end of the market that the company had previously not competed in.

But with Wednesday’s unveiling of the iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S moved down to the $99 price point, and the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, became Apple’s new free phone.

Rumors first cropped up last week that the iPhone 3GS, which was first released in 2009, would be discontinued by Apple with the launch of the iPhone 5.

While the iPhone 3GS has been discontinued, recent buyers won’t be left behind with next week’s launch of iOS 6. The new mobile software update, which will be released next Wednesday, has support for the iPhone 3GS, though not all features are available.

Apple releases iOS 6 golden master to developer community

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

It’s six days from completion and the final, gold master version just went out the door.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has just seeded the mobile operating system’s golden master to developers, showing slight tweaks and performance enhancements to its first-party Maps app.

According to sources familiar with the progression of Maps in iOS 6, the recently-seeded GM has brought a number of changes to Apple’s first in-house mapping app including Flyover support for new cities like New York and Rome. The most recent version of Maps introduced Flyover data for a number of major international metropolitan cities, however New York was omitted for unknown reasons.

A major feature that sets Maps apart from rival products is its use of custom algorithms to fill in Flyover details like shrubbery and trees. The iOS 6 GM brings further improvements in this area, as zoomed images reveal smoother borders around foliage and advanced rendering that gives the appearance of “leaf-level” detail.

Unlike Google Maps’ StreetView, which blurs out license plates and faces, Apple looks to be employing an automated masking system that will leave only a “ghost image” of vehicles behind.

Finally, a small tweak to the UI comes in the “cityscape” icon, which takes the place of the “3D” asset when viewing areas that have Flyover data. The app also said to feel more sprightly than previous builds and more detail is apparent on certain rendered structures.

Apple’s Maps app will roll out as part of iOS 6 on Sept. 19.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve had a chance to play with the iOS 6 golden master, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iTunes 10.7 update

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 06:42
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released version 10.7 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 165 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Adds support for iOS 6 running on compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models.

- Also adds support for the latest iPod nano and iPod shuffle models.

iTunes 10.7 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple announces September 19th release date for iOS 6

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Date: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

iOS 6 is almost here.

Just wait a week.

On Wednesday, Apple Senior VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall announced that the next major update to Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6, will be available for the public to download and install in one week, on Wednesday, September 19th.

iOS 6 will be available for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch. The OS update launches two days before the iPhone 5 is set to debut.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple making changes with iCloud Notes and Reminders, adding more comprehensive Lost My iPhone feature in forthcoming updates

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Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 06:27
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Some upcoming iCloud features could prove incredibly useful and interesting.

Per AppleInsider, the upcoming iCloud Notes and Reminders apps are virtually identical to their iOS and OS X Mountain Lion siblings. The new Reminders web app offers a cloud-based version of events synced with iOS mobile devices and desktop Macs, although it does not support location based reminders (simply ignoring any “geofence” reminder settings triggered to go out when entering or leaving a particular location).

Notes gets a similar web treatment, although unlike its iOS and OS X counterparts, there’s no way to change the default font from Noteworthy. Notes on the web also reflects the stitched leather binding of its iOS counterpart rather than the plainer version in OS X.

In addition to the two new apps, iCloud Mail and Calendar are both getting minor updates. The new Mail adds support for VIP inboxes introduced in Mountain Lion’s Mail this summer.

Mail also uses iOS style scroll bars that are skinnier and translucent, in strange contrast to iCloud’s Calendar app, which continues to use a standard scroll bars with a full gutter and arrow buttons.

The only apparent change in Calendars is the removal of the Reminders list, which is now its own app. Similarly, the iCloud Contacts app hasn’t changed at all, so it retains the odd “bookmark” control for accessing contact groups that Apple has removed from both the OS X and iOS 6 versions of the app.

Also left apparently unchanged is Apple’s support for saving and accessing iWork documents from the web. Overall, the company’s web strategy for iCloud seems very conservative, given that both Google and now Microsoft have made web versions of their office apps a prominent part of their software strategy.

One final feature Apple has added to iCloud’s web portfolio is a new “Lost Mode” within Find My iPhone. The new feature is an enhancement over the previous version, which only offers to lock the device and optionally send it a message.

If your iOS 6 device goes missing, you can click on Lost Mode and the app prompts you to enter a phone number and message, locks the device remotely and will track the device every time it moves, reporting changes in location via email updates. It will also draw each location change on the map, showing a trail of where the device has shown up.

Devices that haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 6, along with Macs registered to use iCloud’s Find My Mac, continue to support the old Lock feature, without updates or live tracking.

Notably, Apple is still using Google Maps within iCloud rather than its own Maps that will launch with the new iOS 6 update later this week. The company may transition over to its own map services at some point.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.