Apple’s Maps app, introduced as part of iOS 6 in 2012, has had its fair share of technical issues and was the source of a PR crisis and the ejection of multiple long-time Apple executives. But two years later, if data from UK carrier EE is any indication, Apple Maps usage appears to be on an upward trend. Here’s the latest usage data for Apple Maps from the network:
A few days ago, 9to5Mac published some details about the elusive City Tours feature of iOS 8 found hidden in secret debug menus. It was thought that this was the only way to see the feature. However, reader Stefan Kuijt has now discovered that the feature is actually exposed publicly in the iOS 8 UI, albeit extremely hidden. This means anyone with the iOS 8 beta can try City Tours without any modification. The video above shows the current public user-interface in action, touring a selection of France’s famous landmarks.
Although deeper changes to Maps are in the works, Apple did announce a new City Tours feature for iOS 8 discreetly on one of the keynote slides. This feature is not normally available in the current iOS 8 betas, but developer Pierre Blazquez has managed to unlock the feature through a hidden debug screen and shines some light on exactly what ‘City Tours’ entails.
City Tours is best described as a guided-camera Flyover view. After activating the tour, the Maps app changes to satellite mode and begins zooming and panning to different landmarks in the city. For example, in the video, the tour rotates and pans between a couple of different cathedrals. More screenshots after the break …
TomTom, one of Apple’s main partners providing data in its new Maps app, could be acquired by Apple, according to report from Netherlands-based Rabobank analyst Hans Slob. Bloomberg covered the analyst’s research report released early today, noting that Slob said there is a 30 percent chance Apple seeks to takeover TomTom in trying to make quicker improvements to its controversial new Maps app:
TomTom NV (TOM2), the Dutch supplier of navigation applications for Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone 5, rose the most in almost eight weeks after an analyst at Rabobank International said the U.S. company may make a takeover bid.
“TomTom needs the cash from Apple, and Apple needs the know-how of TomTom,” said Slob, who estimated Apple would pay a price of as much as 10 euros per share for the supplier. A takeover is also a “royal way out” for the Dutch company’s founders, said Slob, who has a buy recommendation on TomTom and raised his share-price estimate by 38 percent to 5 euros.
TomTom climbed 7.2-percent, an eight-week high, to 4.12 euros today, and it currently sits at a value of approximately 906 million euros ($1.18 billion USD). Read more
Vimeo version 3.0: Vimeo is today releasing an entirely redesigned app that brings a new UI with tab-based navigation, automatic Twitter and Facebook sharing, the ability to upload videos in the background, a Watch Later queue, and much more:
-Conveniently manage and watch all your videos on the go
-Quickly search for videos from the entire Vimeo catalog
-Discover new and amazing videos in the Explore tab
-Upload easily from your camera roll or shoot right from the app
-Continue using the app while your videos upload
-Share any video via Facebook, Twitter, email, iMessage, or copy the link and share how you want
-Watch videos from your Vimeo feed, Watch Later queue, or your uploads or likes
-Easily like videos, comment, and add to your Watch Later queue
Skype version 4.2: One of the biggest updates today goes to Skype’s iPhone app with the introduction of the support for Messenger, Hotmail and Outlook.com contacts and the ability to sign in and sync your Microsoft account. Other new features include easy account creation from within the app, the ability to edit instant messages by tapping and holding, and support for animated emotions on Retina displays. A full list of what’s new below:
-Chat with Messenger, Hotmail and Outlook.com contacts – sign in with and merge your Microsoft account.
-New to Skype? Create a new account right from the app.
-Tap and hold on instant messages to edit them.
-Choose an emoticon while typing an instant message.
-Animated emoticons for devices with a Retina display.
-Edit saved phone numbers right from the dial pad.
TomTom U.S.A version 1.12: TomTom is updating the majority of its apps today with many new features, a few of which include full compatibility with iOS 6, optimizations for iPhone 5, integration with Apple Maps as a routing app on iOS 6, improved HD traffic, and more. TomTom also released variations of the update for its US & Canada, Europe, Western Europe, Brazil, Australia, UK & Ireland versions, as well as the majority of other locations it offers apps for.
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.
While a native Google Maps iOS app has yet to hit the App Store, Nokia said today it plans to release a new free maps for iOS under the “Here” brand in the coming weeks. “Here” is a cross platform effort for mapping applications that the company described as “the first location cloud to deliver the world’s best maps and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems.”
San Francisco, California – Today Nokia introduced HERE, the first location cloud to deliver the world’s best maps and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems. With the new brand, HERE, Nokia aims to inspire a new generation of location services and devices that make the mobile experience more personally significant for people everywhere… To further extend its location services, Nokia is launching a maps application for iOS under the HERE brand.
The new HTML5-based iOS app, also called “Here”, will arrive in the App Store in the coming weeks and feature “offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions.” Read more
Apple’s iPhone 5, at just three weeks old, is apparently experiencing more Web traffic than its three-month-old arch nemesis Samsung Galaxy S III.
The latest report from research firm Chitika depicts the iPhone 5 as gobbling up 56 percent of Web traffic volume, compared to the S III’s 44 percent, in just 18 days since it officially released. Chitika attributed the sudden growth to record-breaking sales numbers and 4G speeds:
Record-breaking sales numbers, along with new 4G browsing speeds which encourage data usage, are the most likely explanation for this tremendous growth. This latest shift in the mobile ecosystem is not welcome news for Samsung, which has positioned its device as a direct competitor to the iPhone 5.
Chitika has notably come under fire recently for publishing incorrect information on Google’s local search queries. The firm realized its errors after reading an article by SearchEngineLand. While today’s Web traffic report is significant—yet sudden— for Apple, lets hope Chitika has straightened out its metrics for analyzing Web data.
A few apps updated, went on sale, or made announcements recently, and 9to5Mac gathered the most noteworthy ones in our regular round up below. Today’s selection includes app accessory news from Tim Cook’s second favorite company, Nike, a few tweaks to an official Walking Dead game in celebration of the show’s upcoming season three premiere, a fresh app for creating Passbook passes, two alternative Maps app updates, and a price drop. Per usual, we will continue to update this list throughout the day.
Check them out:
Turkish website Sosyalmedya reported last month that Apple was putting the country’s national security at risk by releasing high-resolution imagery of sensitive locations in its new Maps app. In that case, the issue was a clear view of a maximum-security prison. A quick comparison to Google’s Maps showed the location was obscured, something Google has been known to do upon request. There were other controversial locations discovered in the Maps app (locations that Google currently blurs), and today a report from The Associated Press noted Apple is being asked by Taiwan to obscure imagery of an early-warning radar station in the country.
Taiwan is asking Apple Inc. to blur a map image of its new $1.4 billion early warning radar station… The 10-storey high radar installation built with U.S. technology is expected to go online later this year. It’s near the Hsinchu Airbase in northern Taiwan.
According to the report, Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesperson David Lo said, “Apple should follow its rival Google in using only low-resolution satellite pictures.” The Associated Press said the facility is located near Hsinchu Airbase in northern Taiwan and will be used for monitoring aircrafts, missiles, and determining speed for targets “coming from as far as western China.”
Apple hired Sally Cole as the Director of Employee Communications last month. Cole comes from cross-town rival Google, where she served as the Director of Internal Communications for almost six years. The Scarsdale native has a B.A. in history from Yale and a J.D./M.B.A. from nearby Stanford University, from which both companies hire liberally.
As someone intimately familiar with Internal Communications at Google, Cole’s experience could prove very valuable at Apple. Apple is rumored to be after Google Maps employees, for instance, where Cole’s Rolodex could prove “fruitful.” Google and Apple previously had a “no-poach” agreement instituted by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Clearly, that is no longer the case.
When Apple demoed its new in-house, iOS 6 Maps app at WWDC in June, replacing the Google Maps backend used in previous versions of iOS, first impressions from many users raised concerns over whether it could compete with the old Google Maps iOS app they were used to. Apple has been steadily improving the Maps app with each beta release, including recently expanding coverage of 3D maps to new cities, but its limitations could be a source of frustration for upgrading iPhone owners in the coming weeks.
Macworld’s Jason Snell raised some alarm bells this week at the post-iPhone 5 roundtable (11:00 in), saying Maps did not feel ready and he was concerned that long-time Maps users would be disappointed. We received lots of comments and forum posts from users who refuse to update until transit times were included.
@9to5mac lets see: No street view, missing/old imagery, limited traffic view, no public transport routing, limited places of internet.—
Jonathan (@Jon889) September 18, 2012
The move was not surprisingly viewed as a strategic one for Apple, and fueled by powerful technologies from Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9 acquisitions, but will Apple be able to smooth iOS 6 Maps app enough to keep users happy when they update to iOS 6 and make the transition from Google Maps later this month?