Apple, Google Just Killed Portable GPS Devices | Autopia | Wired.com

Note this is a draft of an article I wrote back in June when Apple announced it was going to favor its own Maps app over Google Maps and take G-Maps out of the Apple Store altogether. This blog went on hiatus just 2 weeks after that. And a whirlwind number of staff changes occurred at Apple as a result of the debacle of iOS Maps product. Top people have been let go not the least of which was the heir apparent in some people’s views of Steve Jobs; Scott Forstall. He was not popular, very much a jerk and when asked by Tim Cook to co-sign the mea culpa Apple put out over their embarrassment about the lack of performance and lack of quality of iOS Maps, Scott wouldn’t sign it. So goodbye Scott, hello Google Maps. Somehow Google and Apple are in a period of detente over Maps and Google Maps is now returned to the Apple Store. Who knew so much could happen in 6 months right?

Garmin told Wired in a statement. “We think that there is a market for smartphone navigation apps, PNDs [Personal Navigation Devices] and in-dash navigation systems as each of these solutions has their own advantages and use case limitations and ultimately it’s up to the consumer to decide what they prefer.

via Apple, Google Just Killed Portable GPS Devices | Autopia | Wired.com.

That’s right mapping and navigation are just one more app in a universe of software you can run on your latest generation iPod Touch or iPhone. I suspect that the Maps will only be available on the iPhone as that was a requirement previously placed on the first gen Maps app on iOS. It would be nice if there were a lower threshold entry point for participation in the Apple Maps app universe.

But I do hear one or two criticisms regarding Apple’s attempt to go its own way. Google’s technology and data set lead (you know all those cars driving around and photographing?) Apple has to buy that data from others, it isn’t going to start from scratch and attempt to re-create Google’s Street View data set. Which means it won’t be something Maps has as a feature probably for quite some time. Android’s own Google Maps app includes turn-by-turn navigation AND Street view built right in. It’s just there. How cool is that? You get the same experience on the mobile device as the one you get working in a web browser on a desktop computer.

In this battle between Google and Apple the pure play personal navigation device (PND) manufacturers are losing share. I glibly suggested in a twee yesterday that Garmin needs to partner up with Apple and help out with its POI and map datasets so that potentially both can benefit. It would be cool if a partnership could be struck that allowed Apple to have feature that didn’t necessarily steal market share from the PNDs, but could somehow raise all boats equally. Maybe a partnership to create a Street View-like add-on for everyone’s mapping datasets would be a good start. That would help level the playing field between Google vs. the rest of the world.

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Augmented Reality Maps and Directions Coming to iPhone

Apple is planning it’s own mapping app for the iOS based devices, and is filing some interesting patents that might help differentiate the Apple Maps from Google Maps. What would be the value-add? Why Augmented Reality of course. Read On:

iOS logo
Image via Wikipedia

Of course, there are already turn-by-turn GPS apps for iOS, Android and other operating systems, but having an augmented reality-based navigational system thats native to the phone is pretty unique.

via Augmented Reality Maps and Directions Coming to iPhone.

In the deadly navigation battle between Google Android and Apple iOS a new front is being formed, Augmented Reality. Apple has also shown that it’s driven to create a duplicate of the Google Maps app for iOS in an attempt to maintain its independence from the Googleplex by all means possible. Though Apple may re-invent the wheel (of network available maps), you will be pleasantly surprised what other bells & whistles get thrown in as well.

Enter the value-added feature of Augmented Reality. Apple is now filing patents on AR relating to handheld device navigation. And maybe this time ’round the Augmented Reality features will be a little more useful than marked up Geo Locations. To date Google Maps hasn’t quite approached this level of functionality, but do have most of the most valuable dataset (Street View) that would allow them to also add an Augmented Reality component. The question is who will get to market first with the most functional, and useful version of Augmented Reality maps?

AppleInsider | Apple seen merging iOS, Mac OS X with custom A6 chip in 2012

In the bad old days of 1996 when Apple’s marketshare hit rock bottom, everyone fled to Windows 95 en masse. Disparaging the Mac OS every single one of the ‘professional’ technical press predicted the end of Apple. Oh, how wrong they were and the Mac loyal fan-base crowed and shouted with joy that Apple has now achieved a terrific comeback. But, whither the loyal fan-base from days gone by from the Dark Ages pre-Steve, 1996? They will all become part of the iOS collective, they too will be assimilated. Read On:

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...
Image via Wikipedia

Rumors of an ARM-based MacBook Air are not new. In May, one report claimed that Apple had built a test notebook featuring the same low-power A5 processor found in the iPad 2. The report, which came from Japan, suggested that Apple officials were impressed by the results of the experiment.

via AppleInsider | Apple seen merging iOS, Mac OS X with custom A6 chip in 2012.

Following up on an article they did back on May 27th, and one prior to that on May 6th,  AppleInsider does a bit of prediction and prognosticating about the eventual fusion of iOS and Mac OS X. What they see triggering this is an ARM chip that would be able to execute 64-bit binaries across all of the product lines (A fabled ARM A-6). How long would it take to do this consolidation and interweaving? How many combined updaters, security patches, Pro App updaters would it take to get OS X 10.7 to be ‘more’ like iOS than it is today? Software development is going to take a while and it’s not just a matter of cross-compiling to an ARM chip from a software based on Intel chips.

Given that 64-bit Intel Atom chips are already running on the new Seamircro SM10000 (x64), it won’t be long now I’m sure before the ARM equivalent ARM-15 chip hits full stride. The designers have been aiming for a 4-core ARM design that will be encompassed by the ARM-15 release real soon now (RSN). The next step after that chip is licensed and piloted, tested and put into production will be a 64-bit clean design. I’m curious to see if 64-bit will be applied across ALL the different product lines within Apple. Especially when the issue of power-usage and Thermal Design power (TDM) is considered, will 64-bit ARM chips be as battery friendly? I wonder. True Intel has jumped the 64-bit divide on the desktop with the Core 2 Duo line some time ago and made them somewhat battery friendly. But they cannot compare at all to the 10 hours+ one gets on a 32-bit ARM chip today using the iPad.

Lastly, App Developers will also need to keep their Xcode environment up to date and merge in new changes constantly up to the big cutover to ARM x64. No telling what that’s going to be like apart from the previous 2 problems I have raised here. Apple in the 10.7 Lion run-up was very late in providing the support and tools to allow the developers to get their Apps ready. I will say though that in the history of migrations in Apple’s hardware/software, they have done more of them, more successfully than any other company. So I think they will be able to pull it off no doubt, but there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And hopefully we’ll see something better as the end-users of the technology, something better than a much bigger profit margin for Apple (though that seems to be the prime mover in most recent cases as Steve Jobs has done the long slow fade into obscurity).

If ARM x64 is inevitable and iOS on Everything too, then I’m hoping things don’t change so much I can’t do things similarly to the way I do them now on the desktop. Currently on OS X 10.7 I am ignoring completely:

  1. Gestures
  2. Misson Control
  3. Launch Pad
  4. AppStore (not really because I had to download Lion)

Let’s hope this roster doesn’t get even longer over time as the iOS becomes the de facto OS on all Apple Products. Because I was sure hoping the future would be brighter than this. And as AppleInsider quotes from May 6th,

“In addition to laptops, the report said that Apple would ‘presumably’ be looking to move its desktop Macs to ARM architecture as well. It characterized the transition to Apple-made chips for its line of computers as a ‘done deal’.”

Google confirms Maps with local map downloads as iOS lags | Electronista

Downloading local maps is becoming an absolute necessity in this day and age of not so unlimited downloading. Especially if you suffer the fate worse than death known as Roaming Data Charges! Can you say $1,000.00 Cell Phone Bill?? So do yourself a favor and download some maps before traveling overseas with your smartphone, yo.

A common message shown on TomTom OS when there...
Image via Wikipedia

Google Maps gets map downloads in Labs betaAfter a brief unofficial discovery, Google on Thursday confirmed that Google Maps 5.7 has the first experimental support for local maps downloads.

via Google confirms Maps with local map downloads as iOS lags | Electronista.

Google Maps for Android is starting to show a level of maturity only seen on dedicated GPS units. True, there still is no routing feature (you need access to Google’s servers for that functionality) But you at least a downloaded map that you can zoom out and in on to get a view without incurring heavy data charges. Yes, overseas you may rack up some big charges as you navigate live maps via the Google Maps app on Android. This is now solved partially by downloading in advance the immediate area you will be visiting (within a few miles radius). It’s an incremental improvement to be sure and makes Android phones a little more self sufficient without making you regret the data charges.

Apple on the other hand is behind. Hands down they are kind of letting the 3rd party gps development go to folks like Navigon and TomTom who both require somewhat hefty fees to license their downloaded content. Apple’s Maps doesn’t compare to Navigon, TomTom, much less Google for actual usefulness in a wide range of situations. And Apple isn’t currently using the downloadable vector based maps introduced with this revision of Google Maps for Android vers. 5.7. So it will struggle with large jpeg images as you pan and scan around the map to find your location.

Macintouch Reader Reports: User Interface Issues iOS/Lion

Don’t get me wrong OS X Lion is a good thing. But I am despising the migration of the mobile iOS system’s human interface design to the desktop OS. Gestures? We don’t need no stinkin’ gestures. Read On.

Magic Mouse on MacBook Pro. Canon Rebel T1i wi...
Image via Wikipedia

Anyways, I predict a semi-chaos, where – for example- a 3 fingers swipe from left to right means something completely different in Apple than in any other platform. We are already seeing signs of this in Android, and in the new Windows 8.Also, users will soon need “cheat sheets” to remember the endless possible combinations.Would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts.

via User Interface Issues.

After the big WWDC Keynote presentation by Steve Jobs et. al. the question I have too is what’s up with all the finger combos for swiping. In the bad old days people needed wire bound notebooks to tell them all about the commands to run their IBM PC. And who can forget the users of WordPerfect who had keyboard template overlays to remind themselves of the ‘menu’ of possible key combos (Ctrl/Alt/Shift). Now we are faced with endless and seemingly arbitrary combinations off finger swipes/pinches/flicks etc.

Like other readers who responded to this question on the Macintouch message boards, what about the bad old days of the Apple 1 button mouse? Remember when Apple finally capitulated and provided two mice buttons (No?) well they did it through software. Just before the Magic Mouse hit town Apple provided a second mouse button (at long last) bringing the Mac inline for the first time with the Windows PC convention of left and right mouse buttons. How recently did this happen? Just two years ago maybe, Apple introduced the wired and wireless version of the Mighty Mouse? And even then it was virtual, not a literal real two button-ness experience either. Now we have the magic mouse with no buttons, no clicking. It’s one rounded over trackpad that accepts the Lionized gestures. To quote John Wayne, “It’s gettin’ to be Ri-goddamn-diculous”.

So whither the haptic touch interface conventions of the future? Who is going to win the gesture arms race? Who is going to figure out less is more when it comes to gestures? It ain’t Apple.

Bye, Flip. We’ll Miss You | Epicenter | Wired.com

I’m not just a fan, I’ve owned a few video cameras as new technology has displaced the old. First there was 8mm, then miniDV, and then the solid state revolution as exemplified by Pure Digital’s once disposable video camera. It was a project created for a drug store chain, but hackers showed the company their product could be easily adapted to consumer electronics device. The rest they say is history, and so too now is the Flip.

Image representing Flip Video as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Cisco killed off the much-beloved Flip video camera Tuesday. It was an unglamorous end for a cool device that just few years earlier shocked us all by coming to dominate the video-camera market, utterly routing established players like Sony and Canon

via Bye, Flip. We’ll Miss You | Epicenter | Wired.com.

I don’t usually write about Consumer Electronics per se. This particular product category got my attention due to it’s long gestation and overwhelming domination of a category in the market that didn’t exist until it was created. It was the pocket video camera with a built-in flip out USB connector. Like a USB flash drive with a LCD screen, a lens and one big red button, the Flip pared down everything to the absolute essentials, including the absolute immediacy of online video sharing via YouTube and Facebook. Now the revolution has ended, devices have converged and many are telling the story of explaining Why(?) this has happened. In the case of Wired.com’s Robert Capps he claims Flip lost its way after Cisco lost its way doing the Flip 2 revision, trying to get a WiFi connected camera out there for people to record their ‘Lifestream’.

Prior to Robert Capps, different writers for different pubs all spouted the conclusion of Cisco’s own Media Relations folks. Cisco’s Flip camera was the victim of inevitable convergence, pure and simple. Smartphones, in particular Apple’s iPhone kept adding features all once available only on the Flip. Easy recording, easy sharing, larger resolution, bigger LCD screen, and it could play Angry Birds too! I don’t cotton to that conclusion as fed to us by Cisco. It’s too convenient and the convergence myth does not account for the one thing Flip has the iPhone doesn’t have, has never had WILL never have. And that is a simple, industry standard connector. Yes folks convergence is not simply displacing cherry-picked features from one device and incorporating into yours, no. True convergence is picking up all that is BEST about one device and incorporating it, so that fewer and fewer compromises must be made. Which brings me to the issue of the Apple multi-pin connector that has been with us since the first iPod hit the market in 2002.

See the Flip didn’t have a proprietary connector, it just had a big old ugly USB connector. Just as big and ugly as the one your mouse and keyboard use to connect to your desktop computer. The beauty of that choice was Flip could connect to just about any computer manufactured after 1998 (when USB was first hitting the market). The second thing was all the apps for making the Flip play back the videos you shot or to cut them down and edit them were sitting on the Flip, just like hard drive, waiting for you to install them on whichever random computer you wanted to use. Didn’t matter whether or not it had the software installed, it COULD be installed directly from the Flip itself. Isn’t that slick?! You didn’t have to first search for the software online, download and install, it was right there, just double-click and go.

Compare this to the Apple iOS cul-de-sac we all know as iTunes. Your iPhone, iTouch, iPad, iPod all know your computer not through simply by communicating through it’s USB connector. You must first have iTunes installed AND have your proprietary Apple to USB connector to link-up. Then and only then can your device ‘see’ your computer and the Internet. This gated community provided through iTunes allows Apple to see what you are doing, market directly to you and watch as you connect to YouTube to upload your video. All with the intention of one day acting on that information, maintaining full control at each step along the path way from shooting to sharing your video. If this is convergence, I’ll keep my old Flip mino (non-HD) thankyou very much. Freedom (as in choice) is a wonderful thing and compromising that in the name of convergence (mis-recognized as convenience) is no compromise. It is a racket and everyone wants to sell you on the ‘good’ points of the racket. I am not buying it.