Apple explores customizable layers for future Apple Maps app – new patent application

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We’re pretty selective in the Apple patent applications we cover here, simply because Apple patents all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, and for every one of them that makes it into an Apple product, there are hundreds of others that never will. But this is one we think might.

The core concept is nothing new: layered maps. The existing Apple Maps app already allows us to choose between standard mapping, satellite view or both, and Google Maps on the web allows us to switch on or off layers like traffic, weather, public transit lines and so on. But what the Apple patent application describes would, if you’ll excuse the pun, take this idea to a whole new level …  Read more

Apple and Google having ‘lots and lots’ of meetings, getting along better, says Eric Schmidt

Photo: salon.com

Photo: salon.com

The sometimes stormy relationship between Apple and Google appears to be growing friendlier, with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt telling Reuters at the annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley that the two companies were having “lots and lots” of meetings.

Schmidt did not provide details about the nature of the meetings during comments to reporters at the annual Allen and Co media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho on Thursday. He noted that Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora, who joined him at the press briefing, was leading many of the discussions.

The two companies are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” Schmidt said.

The two companies started out close. Schmidt joined Apple’s board in 2006, and the iPhone launched with both Googlemaps and YouTube on board. That was to change after Google’s Android platform began growing in popularity. It was revealed in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography that Jobs threatened “thermonuclear war” on Google over what he felt was a copycat product …  Read more

WSJ: Google putting final touches on Google Maps for iOS, distributed to a small number of outside testers

The previous version of Maps included on iOS 5.0.

After Apple moved to its own mapping solution on iOS, the rumors of Google bringing a standalone Maps app to the platform have intensified. The Wall Street Journal reported that the highly anticipated Google Maps for iOS may be here soon, with word that the app has entered its final testing stages and will include turn-by-turn navigation.

The WSJ wasn’t able to give specific time frame for the app’s launch, but the report added that the app has been distributed to a few members outside the bounds of Mountain View for testing before it is submitted to the iTunes App Store review team. The launch sounds like sooner than later, as several publications in the recent months have pegged the launch before the end of the year. The question is: will Apple accept it?

Google won’t be alone in the iOS Maps-alternative battleground, however. Nokia announced yesterday it plans to release its own iOS map solution under the “Here” brand. Nokia said it plans to make the app available on the iTunes App Store in the coming weeks, offering offline maps, voice-guided navigation, and information on public transport.

More on Eddy Cue’s Apple Maps involvement below

How Google wants to own the iPhone and how Apple is trying to stop it

A Google Zombie iPhone?

With Android now on 75 percent of all smartphones sold, and Apple and Samsung battling in and out of court for the top vendor position, the smartphone wars usually come down to units sold. Apple vs. Samsung. Android vs. iOS. Less of a focus has been Google’s steady invasion of iOS, providing users with an alternative universe to most of the core features of Apple’s mobile operating system. The importance of Google’s ecosystem of iOS apps has never been more apparent than following the recent controversy over the removal of YouTube and Google Maps as default features of iOS. Apple realized the necessity of controlling key experiences on iOS, such as Maps, but it is running into a backlash from users in the process. It is not just facing competition from Android vendors; it is also now engaged in a struggle to keep Google from creating its own layer on top of iOS.

Google’s iOS apps are not just driving iPhone and iPad users to use Google services instead of Apple’s; they are increasingly an important aspect of the iOS experience for a large amount of users. Sixty-one percent of iOS users in our own polls said they were hesitant to even update to iOS 6 because of Apple’s new Maps app, many of which are still waiting for a standalone Google Maps app that Apple has yet to approve. Some say the Maps fiasco coupled with Siri might have even led to the departure of long-time iOS chief Scott Forstall, which many think could result in a new direction for iOS. What this means for Google’s presence on iOS going forward remains to be seen, but Apple does not appear to be ignoring the control Google’s apps have over its users.

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WSJ chronicles Apple move away from Google Maps and the growing rivalry between the companies

Most of you know what is coming in iOS 6 Maps. However, in a long post this evening, which unfortunately does not include much that we haven’t seen or heard, the Wall Street Journal chronicles the last five years that have saw Google and Apple going from best of corporate friends by sharing board members and agreeing to no-poach agreements to sworn enemies spending a great deal of time disparaging each other in and out of courts. The latest breakup in the relationship, and probably the biggest holdout, is Maps. Apple has used Google’s Maps since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 when Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt went on stage to introduce the new software (above).

Later this year, Apple is planning to oust Google Maps as the preloaded, default maps app from the iPhone and iPad and release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology, according to current and former Apple employees. Apple could preview the new software, which will be part of its next mobile-operating system, as soon as next week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, one person familiar with the plans says. Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services. Technology blog 9to5Mac earlier reported that Apple will launch its own maps app in its next mobile-operating system.

Apple purchased Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9 over the past three years to ramp up its mapping capabilities faster. In a rare description of something we have not heard, a use case is explained for the new calendar-integrated mapping system:

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Report: Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app with 3D mapping gets rendered [Photos]


This is an almost entirely correct render of the new Maps app.

BGR just posted a few images of Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app with 3D mapping that 9to5Mac first revealed earlier this month.

Their “trusted source” released these screenshots, which give subsequent validity to the claims that Apple has worked on an in-house mapping solution for years now. Apple is reportedly testing its 3D technology in build 10A314 of iOS 6. The renderings are largely accurate, from what we heard, but the bookmarks icon does not show the border that we saw. Also, the 3D icon only exists on the iPad version (it is actually below the curl on the iPhone, because it is too easy to accidentally press.) We hope to have our own screenshots shortly.

Our sources were the first to indicate Apple will drop Google Maps in iOS for a new Maps app with an Apple backend. 9to5Mac further said the app’s design would be very similar to Google Maps on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but a “much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience.” Today’s report adds validity to our initial reporting, while speculating the app’s color scheme will be more silver than blue.

Many versions of iOS 6 have floated around Apple’s campus recently, which suggest the company is on track for a mid-June unveiling at this year’s World Wide Developers Conference. The new Maps app and its 3D mode is likely a major feature of iOS 6, but we previously noted that anyone anticipating major home screen changes or Android-style widgets will find disappointment. However, Apple is set to unveil an upgraded iCloud service at WWDC with new sharing and commenting features for photos and video syncing capabilities that resemble the Video Stream feature we told you about last year.

Another screenshot follows:

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Apple acquired mind-blowing 3D mapping company C3 Technologies, looking to take iOS Maps to the next level

A 3D model of Las Vegas Strip created by Apple purchased C3

Since the original iPhone’s debut in 2007, Apple’s iOS devices have made use of an Apple-built Google Maps application to provide users with a quick glance at driving directions, traffic, route guidance, current location information, and details about destinations. Like with most sections of Apple’s business, the company is continually innovating, looking to take products to the next level.

A few years ago, Apple set out to seemingly reinvent this iOS mapping experience. As 9to5Mac reported in 2009, Apple scooped up their own mapping software development company called Placebase. In the summer of last year, Apple went one step further in their obvious pursuit of a completely in-house mapping solution and acquired a 3D mapping firm called Poly9.

A third mapping company for Apple…

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iOS 5 will continue to use Google Maps

From 9to5Google:

With Apple’s purchase of two mapping companies over the last couple of years – Poly9 and Placebase - many have speculated that iOS 5 will finally be the iOS release where Apple moves from a Google Maps backend to an Apple backend. Multiple job postings on Apple’s official site backed up this speculation and even Apple promised some under-the-hood maps tweeks for their next-generation iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch operating system.

Now, sources have told 9to5Google that although Apple is working to improve the iOS Maps application, iOS 5 will not bring an Apple developed maps service and Google Maps is still in. Besides Apple’s purchase of both Placebase and Poly9, some speculated that Apple is building their own maps service to either compete with Google or step away from their input into iOS.

Apple began the process of distancing themselves from Google when former Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned over “conflict of interest.” Apple has also added Microsoft’s Bing as a Safari search option and will be competing with Google head-to-head with their upcoming cloud-based music service. Those who enjoy Google Maps should not fear iOS 5, though, and hopefully Apple is working to implement turn-by-turn directions or something else to improve their maps application without changing the backend.

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