google gpu mobile navigation technology

Apple, Google Just Killed Portable GPS Devices | Autopia |

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 |

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.

blogroll macintosh mobile technology

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

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’.”

macintosh navigation technology wintel

Blog U.: Augmented Reality and the Layar Reality Browser

I remember when I first saw the Verizon Wireless commercial featuring the Layar Reality Browser. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. When my student web coordinator came in to the office with her iPhone, I asked her if she had ever heard of “Layar.” She had not heard of it so we downloaded it from the App Store. I was amazed at how the app used the phone’s camera, GPS and Internet access to create a virtual layer of information over the image being displayed by the phone. It was my first experience with an augmented reality application.

via Blog U.: Augmented Reality and the Layar Reality Browser – Student Affairs and Technology – Inside Higher Ed.

It’s nice to know Layar is getting some wider exposure. When I first wrote about it last year, the smartphone market was still somewhat small. And Layar was targeting phones that already had GPS built-in which the Apple iPhone wasn’t quite ready to allow access to in its development tools. Now the iPhone and Droid are willing participants in this burgeoning era of Augmented Reality.

The video in the article is from Droid and does a WAY better job than any of the fanboy websites for the Layar application. Hopefully real world performance is as good as it appears in the video. And I’m pretty sure the software company that makes it has continuously been updating it since it was first on the iPhone a year ago. Given the recent release of the iPhone 4 and it’s performance enhancements, I have a feeling Layar would be a cool, cool app to try out and explore.

navigation technology

AppleInsider | Google to bring free turn-by-turn navigation to Apple iPhone (NOT)

Google now denies they are releasing Google Maps for the iPhone. Take this whole article with a big grain of salt. I’m just glad I didn’t post this immediately after reading the original article on AppleInsider. By the end of the day last Friday April 23rd, Google was denying the rumor already. The moral of the story is look before you leap.

Google this week said it plans to bring Google Maps Navigation, its free turn-by-turn GPS software already available on Android, as an application for Apple’s iPhone.

According to MacUser, Google officials confirmed at a London, England, press conference that its satellite navigation software would be coming to “other” platforms, including the iPhone. No dates for potential availability were given

via AppleInsider | Google to bring free turn-by-turn navigation to Apple iPhone.

April 23rd 2010 Amazing, just when you thought you knew what was going on Google can come along and change things entirely. I ask how does one give away GPS navigation? Four years ago this couldn’t have been conceived or dreamed of given the market for GPS navigation. Now, meh, just give it away. I wish Google great success as this is almost compelling enough for me to get an iPhone now.

Previously you needed an Android based Smartphone usually available only on Verizon. But now there’s a multitude off choices, Garmin’s A50 is coming to AT&T and has my favorite navigation interface along with Google Maps if you want it. Which is what I would prefer. I’m hoping Garmin continues to evolve this to integrate any and all live data it cannot incorporate with its stand alone navigation units which to date don’t have live internet connections (whereas TomTom Live! units do). I’m most interested in any live data that might benefit me in a sudden traffic jam or a new Point of Interest not compiled since the last download/update to the navigation software.

Google’s entry to the iPhone navigation arena would force TomTom, Navigon, and now Garmin all to take heed and compete more vigorously especially since Google would be giving its software away. I’m guessing they could promote themselves as being advertisement free alternatives to the Google Maps Navigation?

macintosh technology

Layar is in the iPhone App Store! « Layar

Layar now available on iPhone

As reported in for Thursday October 15 , 2009. Layar was originally developed in the Netherlands, and runs on Android based cell phones. The first cell phone manufacturer to pre-install it was Samsung who installed it on their Android based Galaxy sold in the Netherlands.

It has now been ported over to the iPhone and will now compete head to head with an early entrant into the AR market, Bionic Eye. Layar had garnered some early mindshare on O’Reilly’s technology blog Radar where I first noticed it. Others had whispered about it early on the cutting edge tech blogs. But this was the first concrete example showing what it could do. has been singing the praises of the cell phone Augmented Reality craze but somewhat later than O’Reilly tapped into it in early Summer. O’Reilly now has a correspondent fully engaged in covering things AR related: Christine Perey. And now let the battle begin Bionic Eye vs. Layar! But first consider the API’s which are already beginning to be examined by the folks over at Wired. One big complaint is the difficulty with which one can submit their own Point of Interest database that Layar can call up. Bionic Eye hasn’t really touted user generated POI content as much. It will take a while to see if it’s the consumers or the developers who determines the winner in the battle for Cellphone AR apps. Who knows? Maybe Google will enter the fray real soon now.

Layar is in the iPhone App Store!

We have waited a long time but it is finally there! Layar arrived in the App Store. It’s free and available globally. Below some screenshots of the App.

via Layar is in the iPhone App Store! « Layar.

blogroll macintosh technology

AppleInsider | TomTom for Apple iPhone released in U.S. App Store for $99

Apple Insider reports this morning that the TomTom GPS application has appeared in the U.S. AppStore. And if you decided to get the external antenna you can even use your iPod Touch as a GPS. That is way cool and way more useful than I had previously thought this was going to be. Kudos for TomTom to make the thing more widely available on the iPhone platform.

The product works with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, which include an integrated GPS receiver. It will reportedly also be compatible with the first-generation iPhone and the iPod touch once the separate combo hardware kit is made available. TomTom has not yet announced a price for the hardware package.

via AppleInsider | TomTom for Apple iPhone released in U.S. App Store for $99.


Reseller lists TomTom iPhone kit

Not an iPhone, but definitely a lane assist!
Not an iPhone, but definitely a lane assist!

It’s not cheap, but the TomTom accessory kit for the iPhone 3GS is now listed on a re-seller’s website. Hopefully the Navigon and AT&T iPhone Apps haven’t stolen the thunder of the original TomTom announcement. But I guarantee the GPS performance will be a lot faster with an external device. I’m not criticizing the internal GPS on the iPhone. It is a compromise design that allows everything to sit and play well within the same old iPhone footprint. For good GPS reception and quick locks on satellites, that compromise is going to get in the way. Especially for anyone who has used purpose built, standalone model GPS navigators. My fingers are crossed in hopes the TomTom at least matches the low end of the navigator market with its hardware/software combo.

The application is said to take advantage of iPhone OS 3.0’s support for true, turn-by-turn directions. The software will have both nation-specific and international maps from TomTom, will work in either landscape or portrait modes, and give voice directions.

The software will reportedly be available for separate purchase from the App Store, and would rely on the iPhone’s internal GPS receiver. The hardware kit, however, comes with its own, separate GPS. It will be one of the first external accessories to take advantage of iPhone 3.0’s capabilities.

via AppleInsider | Reseller lists TomTom iPhone kit for £99.00 ($168.50).

computers technology wintel

PowerVR maker – Imagination Inc.

Imagination is the name of the of company making the wicked cool low power graphics chip called PowerVR SGX. In the handheld manufacturing market Imagination scored two huge design wins. First was the Apple iPhone and iTouch. Second is the Palm Pre. It is very encouraging that the designers at Palm chose the PowerVR in order to create the iPhone killer. No doubt Palm benefited directly from inside knowledge of the iPhone when they hired former Apple VP Jon Rubinstein to head this new iPhone killer project at Palm.

Now Apple realizes it needs to protect it’s competitive advantage. They are sinking some several million dollars in Imagination stock to prevent any hostile takeover of their strategic partner. Even more interesting than this move on Apple’s part is Intel has already staked a huge claim on Imagination without having a single design win to announce. There’s some word out that future netbooks will use an integrated PowerVR chip. But the next revision of the Atom CPU and chipset will definitely have PowerVR integrated in, scoring some bigger more strategic design wins on the low power front. Intel hopes to best Apple at the low end, low power, long battery duration category.

The investment is considered important for Apple, which uses only PowerVR graphics in its iPhone and iPod touch devices. Its most recent launch, the iPhone 3GS, uses a PowerVR SGX video core now believed to be the SGX535.

via Electronista | Apple more than doubles stake in PowerVR maker.

computers technology

iPhone ships w/Toshiba 32GB flash memory

Going back a few weeks I dug up this article about Toshiba’s groundbreaking 32nm/32GB stacked flash memory module.

32GB Flash Memory

Toshiba on Monday revealed that it has started shipping its 32 nanometer NAND flash memory ahead of schedule. Originally planned for the fall, the higher-density storage is already being sampled today and should be in mass production by July. The process allows a single, thin 32-gigabit (4GB) chip and, with eight stacked chips, will allow 32GB of memory in a single package.

via Electronista | Toshiba ships 32nm, 32GB flash memory early.

At the time it was not announced what manufacturers were going to use the new chip. Some speculators were thinking Apple might be using it in their top of the line 32GB iPhone 3GS. And according to all the teardown accounts iFixit & Rapid Repair, the Toshiba chip is front and center on the top of the line model.

iPhone 3GS ships w/Toshiba chip
iPhone 3GS ships w/Toshiba chip

I think its great when innovations like this can make into shipping products immediately. While the cost is prohibitive for many, you can rest assured you are getting the cutting edge, the bleeding edge of technology when you buy Apple products. Why I even remember when the first video iPods with 30GB Hard drives came out. Nobody thought you would ever need that amount of space for all your music, so Apple introduced video as another reason to buy an iPod. Now we have 32GB available on the iPhone. It just gets better and better since Oct. of 2005 when that first 30GB ipod was reviewed.

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My GAF Viewmaster Viewer

Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda

Futurists are all alike. You have your 20th Century types like the Italians who celebrated war. You have Hitler’s architect Albert Speer. You have guys like George Gilder hand waving, making big pronouncements. And all of them use terms like paradigm and cusp as a warning to you slackers, trailers, luddite ne’er-do-wells. Make another entry in your list of predictions for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Everyone feels like Apple has to really top what it’s achieved since last year with the Apple iPhone, the iPhone OS and the AppStore. Mark Sigal writing for O’Reilly Radar believes there’s so much untapped juice within the iPhone that an update in the OS will become the next cusp/paradigm shift.

From today’s O’Reilly Radar article by Mark Sigal:

Flash forward to the present, and we are suddenly on the cusp of a game-changing event; one that I believe kicks the door open for 3D and VR apps to become mainstream. I am talking about the release of iPhone OS version 3.0.

from: 3D Glasses: Virtual Reality, Meet the iPhone – O’Reilly Radar.

I’m not so certain. One can argue that even the average desktop 3D accelerator doesn’t really do what Sigal would ‘like’ to see in the iPhone. Data overlays is nice, for a 3D glasses kind of application sure, but it’s not virtual reality. It’s more like a glorified heads-up display which the military has had going back to the Korean War. So enter me into the column of the hairy eyeball, critical and suspicious of claims that an OS Update will change things. In fact OSes don’t change things. The way people think about things, that’s what changes things. The move of the World Wide Web from an information sharing utility to a medium for commerce, that was a cusp/paradigm shift. And so it goes with the iPhone and the Viewmaster Viewer. They’re fun yes. But do they really make us change the way we think?