Half great, half head-slapping
You know that Google Maps is better than Apple Maps: there's probably no one outside Apple itself who would deny that Google's service has far more and richer data, and in some countries is better at finding routes. So the fact that the new Google Maps 4.11.0 release adds Apple Watch support is, in all ways, brilliant. Strike that: it's in all but one ways brilliant. As is so very often the case with Google, you have to switch on settings that you struggle to find -- in part because Google itself tells you the wrong place to look. There's an irony there in a map app by a search giant telling you the wrong place.
Apple adds 20 more Flyover locations to Maps
Apple has added more locations to its Flyover feature in Apple Maps, for the second time this summer. The feature, which provides a visual overview of a city combining aerial photography with 3D data, now includes 20 more cities and sites for users to view in both the iOS and OS X versions of Maps, with the collection primarily including areas of Europe, as well as Mexico and Japan.
Excellent local search app adds Apple Watch
Previously on Where To: back in January -- which, depending on when yours arrived, is is four or five months BW (Before Watch) –– we gave this app a bit of a rave. It's not the only app for finding the nearest bar or bank, or for finding directions to the closest library or train station, and our sole caution was that we recommended having a couple of these sorts of apps. Now with Where To? 8.0.1 we're going to change that to recommending that you just buy this one.
Transit in Maps provides public transport routes in cities
Apple spent part of the iOS 9 section of today's WWDC keynote talking about changes its making to apps installed with the operating system update. The Notes and Maps apps gain a few extra useful features that are supporting or are supportive of other apps, while News is a completely new app that aims to improve newsreading on mobile devices by providing personalized article recommendations.
One month of wrist talking with Apple's new gadget
As I write this, it is one month to the day since my Apple Watch arrived -- and I only know that because I looked it up. It simultaneously feels like I have always had one and that it is still a new toy. Those two things can't both be true, but they are and really it just means I am firmly in that time when I just don't appreciate that I'm actually a lucky git for having one.
Maps to continue to use TomTom data for navigation with renewed contract
TomTom, the Dutch mapping data company that has been one of the key partners in Apple Maps since day one, will continue to supply the iPhone maker with geographic and street-level data, despite rumors of a wholly revamped Maps service in the works. TomTom is one of several partners Apple uses to collect location data for Maps, but has been one of the most important, even as Apple has spent much of the last three years acquiring other GPS-related companies.
Rumored sale of Here could aid Nokia in acquiring Alcatel-Lucent wireless business
Nokia is looking into the possibility of selling off its mapping business and apps, a report claims. The remains of the company, following the sale of its smartphone business to Microsoft last year for $7.2 billion, is apparently planning to hand off its Here maps business in order to focus on its wireless network division, and is said to have already received some interest.
Nokia's map app is back on iOS
Not to be rude about this, but did you notice that the Nokia Here maps app for iOS was gone? That, in fact, it wasn't Here? The company pulled it in December 2013, and said this was all the fault of Apple because certain features of iOS 7 "harm the user experience." Nokia never said which features, and you didn't really expect it to, but then you didn't expect it to come back with a new app 15 months later, either, and yet here it is.
Apple Maps is underrated, except when it isn't
Well, this is awkward: I'm about to enthuse at you about how and why Apple Maps is very good, but the impetus came when my wife Angela offered to pick me up from a meeting in Kings Heath, Birmingham (in England, for those not familiar with the place). I shared my location with her over Messages and was just thinking how handy this was, how straightforward and easy it was -- when she texted back "why are you in Stechford?"
May be intended to produce Street View-style content
Unusual minivans -- equipped with what are believed to be cameras and LiDAR sensors -- have been spotted driving around California's Bay Area in recent weeks, reports say. The vehicles each have an X-shaped frame mounted to a luggage rack; the cameras are situated on four corners. Facing forward and back are spinning cylinders, similar to the LiDAR systems used on Google's self-driving car prototypes. Investigation by CBS affliate KPIX has discovered that a blue Dodge Caravan with the equipment is under lease to Apple.
Make maps with this dedicated cartography illustration software
Ortelius is map-making software designed to be used by anyone -- from the amateur wanting to show you where the fire exits are, to the cartographer making maps for tourists. If you're doing this for a living, or at high resolutions for print publishing, then there are Geographic Information System applications and there are even fractal coastline-generating apps. Ortelius, by Mapdiva, is more for the non-specialist -- and it's made by the same company that does the similar but more general illustration package Artboard.
Nokia plans launch of Here maps on iOS in early 2015
Nokia's Here maps for Android is no longer just for Samsung smartphones and tablets, with Nokia making it available to other Android devices on Google Play, without the need to side load the app. At the same time as the Android expansion, the company has revealed its upcoming Here release for iOS will be slightly later than initially believed, with a version for Apple devices set to arrive in early 2015.
Maps team now hiring a 'Community Client Software Engineer' to go beyond reporting problems
Apple is now looking for a "Community Client Software Engineer" and data analyst to join its Maps team, apparently to expand its use of crowdsourced data for Maps in iOS and OS X to both make improvements in location accuracy as well as possibly improve reporting on traffic conditions. While the Maps app already has options for users to report problems they may find, the job posting suggests that Apple may ask for users to voluntarily send in more information, either automatically or manually, to improve Maps.
New entities handling submissions of bulk location data
Apple has added 10 new companies to the list of those providing it with data for iOS and OS X Maps, reports say. The parties are mentioned in a new email to businesses, asking about submitting bulk location information. The added firms include DAC Group, Location3 Media, Marquette Group, Placeable, PositionTech, SIM Partners, SinglePlatform, UBL, Yext, and Yodle. Apple asks for bulk content to be submitted to one of the entities on its partner list, rather than directly.
Advertisements hint at possible Here mapping suite of apps
Nokia could be preparing a new version of its Here mapping app for iOS and Android. Two job postings spotted on LinkedIn are searching for Android and iOS developers to work on the company's Here teams, and could signal a return to the platforms after the company sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft for approximately $7.2 billion.
Apple works on filling in smaller gaps
Apple has added Stonehenge to its Flyover coverage in Maps, users note. The site is one of the smallest in the Flyover library, which enables 3D scenic views based on satellite data. The Neolithic monument dates back to between 3,000 and 2,000 BCE, and is about 8 miles north of the English town of Salisbury. To find it in Maps, users only have to type in "Stonehenge" in search.
UC Berkeley was birthplace of BSD Unix kernel used in OS X, iOS
Apple has again expanded its Maps program for both iOS and OS X by adding 3D "Flyover" support for the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the city of Berkeley and its University of California campus, which by happenstance is the birthplace of the original UNIX used as the foundation of both OS X and iOS. The 3d Flyover feature has generally been regarded as one of Maps' best features, alongside turn-by-turn driving navigation.
Program seems to be in testing, wide deployment unknown
Apple is in the process of testing a new Maps error-reporting feature. Reports are surfacing that when users note errors in Apple's Maps iOS app, they given the option to receive a push notification when the error is rectified. Implementation is spotty, but has been reproduced in part by MacNN.
Free Nokia mapping app previously exclusive to Lumia 2520 tablet
Nokia will be expanding the availability of its HERE Maps to all Windows 8.1 devices, the company has confirmed. The free app, currently only available on the Nokia Lumia 2520, will soon be useable on all laptops, desktops, and tablets running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT, with the company also claiming the software will have a number of updates to improve performance.
Touchscreen kiosks to help navigate NYC subway starts roll-out
New York City has started to add interactive maps to help passengers of the subway system. Gizmodo reports that the first 18 MTA On-The-Go kiosks have been installed in the Grand Central subway station, with the MTA and Control Group project using 47-inch touchscreen displays that show train arrival estimates, scheduled departures, and a map which helps plan a route through the system with warnings of potential issues. A wider rollout to more stations is expected to take place by mid-2014.
Claims iOS 7 harmed user experience, introduced bugs to mapping application
Nokia has pulled its HERE Maps app for iOS from the App Store, due to changes in iOS 7. A company spokesperson advised that the latest iteration of the Apple mobile operating system had harmed "the user experience" of the app, promoting the withdrawal from the store, though iOS users will still be able to access Nokia's maps through a browser.
Filings hint at future product features
The US Patent and Trademark Office has published several Apple patent applications, including separate filings for an "interactive map" interface and "quantum dot-enhanced display." The map application, spotted by AppleInsider, details an interactive interface that dynamically adjusts map content based on a chosen mode, with different modes for a range of activities or interests.
Marker opacity and minimum-maximum zoom, improved Core Animation support
Google has updated its Software Development Kit for iOS to version 1.6, bringing 64-bit support so that developers who are creating apps aimed at the A7 chip used in the latest iPads and iPhones can incorporate Google's Map service into the app if they wish. The update also includes enhanced marker opacity, and min/max zoom settings, some changes to CGFloat as appropriate, added opacity on GMSTileLayer and GMSMarker, and other improvements - along with fixing a handful of bugs.
Microsoft adds 5M square miles of images to Bing Maps
Microsoft has updated Bing Maps to include another 13 million square kilometers (5 million square miles) of satellite imagery. The update, consisting of aircraft and satellite aerial imagery according to The Next Web, is spread over the majority of the world, including areas of Iceland, France, Brazil, England, Chile, Fiji, and China, with the added photographs totaling almost 316 terabytes of data.
Floorplan data for over 50,000 buildings in 69 countries passed to Qualcomm
Nokia is working with Qualcomm on solving the indoor mapping problem, by supplying its collection of floor plans and indoor map data. Qualcomm will use the venue maps with its IZat indoor location system to improve its overall accuracy, in order to locate mobile devices to within three to five meters (10 to 16 feet) inside a building.
Features iOS 7-esque 'Explore' option for business lookup
On Tuesday, Google unveiled its new version of Maps for iOS, just a few days after the revamp's debut on Android. The new version brings long-awaited native iPad and iPad mini support, along with an iOS 7-esque design motif and a new "Explore" option for finding and browsing information on local businesses. In addition to the new interface, the update adds features such as live traffic updates, road incident reports, indoor map (where available) that include walking directions for large spaces (like airports and stadiums).
Technology uses Wi-Fi signals for positioning when GPS absent
Apple has purchased a small Silicon Valley startup, WiFiSLAM, that specializes in extending location data and positioning to indoor locations using Wi-Fi triangulation when GPS information is not available, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal, worth $20 million, is expected to supplement Apple's Maps application and compete with Google's crowdsourced "Indoor Maps" project. Currently, the "Indoor Maps" project is limited to large-crowd locations such as airports, stadiums and shopping centers.
Maps and Commerce division split, Huber reassigned
Google is breaking apart its Maps and Commerce division, with the section head being moved to another team. The stepping down of Jeff Huber from his position along with splitting up the department appears to be a continuation of Google's shuffle of management and divisions from yesterday, which saw Andy Rubin step down and be replaced by Sundar Pichai.
In-store availability checks, expanded Flyover and 3D buildings
Apple on Tuesday updated both its Apple Store buying app and (in a "silent" update) Maps application with expanded options. The Apple Store app (free) now features in-store availability checking, and more finely-grained delivery options -- making it possible for customers to choose to have some items delivered and some for pickup, notes AppleInsider. The Maps app, which has already received smaller "invisible" bugfixes since its debut, dramatically expanded its Flyover cities and other features in recent days.
Hints at broad expansion of existing app, greater integration
A raft of positions available with Apple at its Cupertino headquarters dealing with nearly every aspect of the company's iOS Maps program have been revealed through new job postings. A total of ten engineering positions dealing directly with Maps suggest either that Apple is replacing those hired for nearly identical jobs in September, or expanding the team significantly in another push to help the program realize its potential. While Apple's Maps has improved significantly from its debut, it still lags behind Google, Nokia and other competitors in a number of aspects.
Used crowdsourced information over multiple years for map
Google has updated its Maps to include detailed road and landscape information for North Korea, something not offered before by the service. Previously showing just the coastline, rivers and the location of Pyongyang, the new additions are the culmination of years of work by residents of the secretive country using Google Map Maker.
Fake names stem from old OpenStreetMap info
Just as Apple Maps has regained user trust by correcting many of the major problems with early versions of its maps, an old prank by some Afghan university students is giving the company another black eye over inaccurate street names shown for areas of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. A reliance on outdated data from OpenStreetMap -- a source used by Apple for some areas, and which is editable by users -- seems to be the source of the joke street names.
Leak pegs Maps app in alpha, vector-based maps
A new version of Google's iOS Maps app is reportedly in the alpha stage of development, and it will bring a number of improvements when it is eventually released. Screens from the app have appeared on the website of an independent developer, showing off some blurry shots of the iOS 6 app in action. The developer says that the app has been significantly rebuilt and it will take advantage of the 4-inch height of the iPhone 5.
Small but angry segment very put off by early problems
A survey by an SEO ranking provider for small businesses has turned up a surprising level of satisfaction with Apple's Maps in iOS 6 and suggests further that, at least within the US, the media reporting on the topic may be overblown. While Apple itself and many others have noted genuine problems with the data found in Maps, especially right after launch, many in North America (particularly those using the driving directions) have a better experience. The survey found that 74 percent of respondents were happy with the new Maps app.
Developers alerted Apple about Maps woes as far back as June
Apple knew of iOS 6 Maps problems as far back as June this year, says CNET. After the first beta of iOS 6 was seeded to developers, feedback on errors and inaccuracies in the new app were supplied by numerous parties. Developers filed bug reports, emails were sent to specific employees, and frustration was also expressed on developer-only message boards viewed by Apple.
Faced off against Samsung Galaxy Note, GMC Terrain car nav
While Apple's new Maps application has taken a public drubbing over early inaccuracies, graphic anomalies, mislabelled places and the loss of essential features such as transit directions and a street view, there are areas in which the app has been an improvement over the old version since day one: maps are vector based and thus cleaner and more scalable, the maps use dramatically less 3G or LTE data than before, and Apple added turn-by-turn navigation (with voice and Siri integration on the iPhone 5) for drivers.
Interviews with ex-staff suggest failures start at top
After the negative reaction to Maps in iOS 6, the spotlight has once again shone on some of Apple's other large-scale service-based failures. Interviews with former employees, carried out by the New York Times, suggest that a set of repeated failures in Internet services stems from the top.
Before iOS 6, 25 percent were using Google Maps daily
Utilization of Apple's iOS 6 Maps app appears to have plummeted in the days since its release. According to one study from data management company Snappli, only four percent of users running iOS 6 are still using Apple Maps, a dramatic drop from just a week ago, when the app debuted. Snappli's figures also show that Apple Maps usage is far below the levels the company saw when Google's Maps app was the standard on iOS.
Testing limited to New York City area, however
Testing and recommendation magazine Consumer Reports has taken a closer look at Apple's Maps and compared it more closely with Google's Android Maps, specifically testing navigation features for driving. While initially condemning Apple's Maps as inferior last week, the more "thoroughly tested" Apple Maps has now been deemed to hold up well, though not quite up to the Google standard. Both, said CR writer Jeff Bartlett, "provide clear routing directions" that "route effectively, providing clear guidance and great points-of-interest integration."
New York address does not exist according to USPO
An advertisement for a Motorola smartphone showing Google Maps as better than Apple's Maps app came under criticism itself today. The ad, promoting the Droid Razr M compared both versions of the Maps app, with the Razr M appearing to have found a fictitious location correctly while the iPhone 5 seemed to complete the same task with the wrong result -- with the only problem being that the address doesn't actually exist.
Claims he may become Australian citizen due to broadband network
Fusion-io Chief Scientist and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak commented on Apple's Maps debacle during a company event in Sydney, Australia, saying that he was slightly disappointed with the new application, but that it was primarily because he more luck with the "better database" used by Google maps on his Android phones in his own testing. Woz, who owns numerous phones and took advantage of being in the country to be among the first to get the iPhone 5, added that he felt the severity of the flaws in Apple's Maps app have been exaggerated, Australian media reports say.
Reminds customers that it is a 1.0 product, is 'working hard' on it
Apple says it is working hard to correct some flaws and inaccuracies in its new Maps application, which replaces Google Maps in iOS 6. On top of complaints that transit and walking directions were dropped from the new applications compared to Google's, users have pointed out satellite imagery errors and other inaccuracies that include outdated images, less-specific road maps, lack of "Streetview" and some business names, and inaccurate names on points of interest. Apple thanks users for their feedback but also reminds them that the app and its service are new, and that it will improve.
Next Kindle Fire to feature native mapping services
When Amazon announces the next version of its Kindle Fire tablet next Thursday, the device will feature mapping services provided by Nokia. Sources familiar with Amazon's plans tell Reuters that the web retail giant will shun Google for Nokia, even though the current generation Kindle Fire runs on a forked version of Google's Android operating system. Those sources have also confirmed that next Thursday's Amazon event will indeed introduce at least one new Kindle Fire model, though a multi-unit unveiling remains a possibility.
icloud.com email addresses appear
Some of the changes in iOS 6 beta 3 have been discovered by developers. MacRumors notes that users can now have icloud.com email addresses, instead of just ones from me.com. The latter are a holdover from iCloud's failed predecessor, MobileMe.
Preview expected at WWDC, release 'later this year'
The Wall Street Journal is backing up reports of Apple transitioning to a Google-less iOS Maps app. The paper cites "current and former Apple employees," who say that the app will arrive later this year. One source says that Apple could preview the new app at WWDC, which begins June 11th. There the company is widely expected to show off iOS 6, with which any version of Maps would have to be deeply integrated.
New color palette separates map from overlays
Designers with Bing Maps and Nokia Maps have coordinated with the Windows Phone team to bring a unified look to maps across both services, now available on the desktop and mobile version of Bing and Nokia maps. The goal was to update the color palette to better distinguish roads from rivers while keeping overlaid information, such as traffic, distinct. The redesign extends to collaboration across services on fonts, labelling and readability.
Combines travel features, GPS when available
Wazado Mobile Applications, best known for its NAVV turn-by-turn GPS navigation app, has created an iPad-only offering called NAVV Traveller, which combines offline maps with online GPS (if available) and travel-assistant type features such as weather conditions, real-time traffic, points of interest and in-app posting to Facebook or SMS. The app is available for North America and Western Europe so far.
Launch includes 200 US locations, more overseas
Navteq has announced that it has expanded its range of mapping services to include indoor areas. The new maps, which are initially focused on shopping centers, include interior map attributes such as escalators, stairs, emergency exits and bathrooms, along with much greater detail for POIs related information such as departments within stores.
Nokia finalizes NAVTEQ buy
Nokia has completed its purchase of mapping technology and software maker NAVTEQ after getting the European Commission's approval of the deal earlier this month. Navteq provides data used in a wide range of applications, including automotive navigation systems and web-based applications, such as Google Maps, Yahoo! and other sites. As part of Nokia, NAVTEQ will now continue to develop map data and its technology platform, focusing on adding context-aware services to the web functions of mobile devices, the company said. Such functionality will allow users to quickly and efficiently access data such as restaurant reviews and store hours from the Internet based on their location.
Outdoor enthusiasts now have instant access to trail maps right from their iPhones. Podpro is offering a free service for skiers and snowboarders that delivers instant access to more than thirty-three of North America's most popular ski resorts. With Podpro's service users can retrieve live weather reports, ski conditions, as well as lodging options from anywhere.