Apple aims for convenience over value as competing iPhone trade-in firms continue to offer better deals

Cook at Palo Alto Apple Store (Getty Images)

Cook at Palo Alto Apple Store (Getty Images)

Following our reports detailing the new service, Apple today officially kicked off its new Apple Store iPhone trade-in program that will see customers trading in old iPhones in exchange for credit towards an upgrade to a newer model. The initiative is part of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s new iPhone sales strategy and meant to be “competitive” with other trade-in services, but is it really the best option for getting the most out of your old iPhone before new devices get announced?

The new in-store program will fall under the same Reuse and Recycling marketing Apple uses for its online trade-in system, but for in-store trade-ins it has switched from partner PowerOn to Brightstar to determine the value of iPhones and handle the trade-ins. Apple employees are even encouraging customers to take advantage of the new trade-in offer when bringing in a damaged device to their local Apple Store, but we’ve found other services are currently offering much more for your used iPhone in good condition.  Read more

iOS devs give in-depth look at advantages of Apple’s MapKit vs Google Maps SDK

FastCompany today posted an in-depth look at the differences between Apple’s MapKit and Google’s recently launched Google Maps for iOS SDK from the perspective of developers. The lengthy piece gets insight from several iOS app developers with apps that rely on the SDKs and sheds some light on a few things that Apple is doing much better than Google despite a perception from users that Google Maps are superior:

“Google doesn’t currently charge for the Places API, but they do require a valid credit card for access–which gives you a quota of 100,000 daily requests. So you have to wonder if they plan to start charging sooner or later,” McKinlay explains. “That 100,000 limit perhaps sounds reasonable, but each user session can generate many requests–particularly when using the ‘autocomplete’ feature of Tube Tamer–and some types of requests count for 10 times the quota each, so it can get used up pretty quickly.”

While noting that Google wins out with location lookup services, 3D buildings, directions, geocoding, and better hybrid satellite imagery, the developers were also quick to point out downsides of the Google Maps SDK such as quotas for the Places API, an increased app size, and limitations with markers, gradient polylines, and overlays.

Developer of transportation app Tube Tamer, Bryce McKinlay, discussed some of the benefits of using Apple’s MapKit:

“Subjectively, the current version of the [Google] SDK does not perform as well as MapKit,” McKinlay says. “GMSMapView’s frame rate is capped at 30fps, which is lower than typical for iOS and results in a slight but noticeable ‘jitter’ effect when panning and zooming the map. Drawing of labels and POIs sometimes lags behind if you pan quickly, even on a fast device like the iPhone 5.”

“The fact that annotations in MapKit are UIViews also means that animation and other effects can be applied easily using Core Animation, which isn’t currently possible with the Google Maps SDK approach,” McKinlay says. He also points out that MapKit has some other handy features that Google’s SDK currently lacks, like “Follow user location” and “Follow with heading” modes. “MapKit provides a button that automatically moves the map to follow the user’s location, and rotates the map according to the compass heading. This is very helpful for pedestrian navigation. It is possible to implement this manually in Google’s SDK, but it adds extra development time/effort.”

It looks like some developers feel Google has some work to do with their Maps SDK for iOS. While Apple isn’t free of its own issues with MapKit, developers will definitely want to read Fast Company’s entire post before deciding which solution will be best for their app. The developers ultimately end up recommending MapKit over Google’s Maps SDK for the majority of developers.

Tip: Bring Siri’s voice to your Mac with Samantha downloadable Voice for Lion

Since the introduction of Nuance speech technology in OS X Lion, which provides several new voice options in system preferences for the System Voice, many have compared the voice of Nuance-powered Siri on iPhone 4S to the improved text-to-speech included as free downloads within Lion. As noted by Reddit user Moosehadley, what you might not have realized is the downloadable “Samantha” voice for Lion is the same as Siri’s in the United States. Here is how to download it:

Open System Preferences> Speech> Text to Speech>System Voice> Customize> and select “Samantha” from the list. Apple will ask you to confirm the 469MB install.

Read more

Apple’s 1080p compared with Blu-ray: Can you tell the difference?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Along with Apple’s refreshed Apple TV capable of 1080p video output, iTunes movies also got a bump up to 1080p with the introduction of iTunes 10.6. While there were some concerns over increased file sizes, iTunes users for the most part seem to be quite pleased with the quality of iTunes movies encoded in 1080p compared to the 720p they were stuck with before. On that note, Ars Technica decided to find out exactly how the 1080p movies compare to the same content on a Blu-ray. Here is what it found:
Read more

iPad 2 running iOS 5 vs Windows 8 Slate

Winrumors has posted a very thorough 11 minutes of an iPad 2 running iOS 5 compared to a Windows 8 Slate. The video above goes over almost every feature that these tablets offer, from lock-screen to social network integration.

Biggest difference? One has been available for a year and a half, the other won’t be ready for another year. Read more