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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Waze social GPS traffic & gas

- MapQuest

- GPS by Telenav

- Garmin USA

- Gokivo GPS Navigator

- Navigon USA

- CoPilot Live Premium USA — offline GPS navigation

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

- Bing

- Magellan RoadMate North America

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

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

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

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

Posted by:
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

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

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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.