Apple applies for and gets awarded patents for everything under the sun, and patents don’t always translate to shipped features. Disclaimer aside, the iPhone maker was recently awarded a patent for a potentially useful feature that could help you avoid areas with weak cellular coverage when planning your trip with navigation in Maps.
In other words, because your iPhone can collect and measure cellular signal data and many iPhone users anonymously share travel data with Apple, there’s potential for Maps to know which routes problematically contain dead zones and suggest lengthier routes with better signal. Read more
One of the problems the new iPhone 6 models present is where to put it when you’re in the car. You may not want to keep it in your pocket for obvious reasons, especially the iPhone 6 Plus, and the new models are larger and slipperier than ever. Keeping it in the seat next to you probably means it’ll end up on the floor. With the larger displays and new features introduced with iOS 8, using a car mount is more useful than ever. I’ve been trying out Kenu’s Airframe+, which supports even the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus (with a case too), and I’ve found using a car mount offers up a number of benefits. Read more
According to a new Apple patent application published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider), Apple is looking into new mapping features that would integrate real-time, crowd-sourced traffic and navigation data through ratings and user reporting.
At first glance the features appear to be similar to those included in the community-based mapping app ‘Waze’, which is one of the reasons that Google just acquired the company last month. The patent application, titled “User-Specified Route Rating and Alerts,” describes a system for users to “provide ratings for routes, streets and/or locations.” In other words, users can rate a suggested route when getting directions in order to provide crowd-sourced feedback to Apple and in return Apple will provide the most efficient and accurate routes to other users based on the ratings:
Particular implementations provide at least the following advantages: Route determination is improved by accounting for real-world considerations and concerns of travelers. Real-time user-generated alerts allow for faster and more accurate notification of events within proximity of a user that might hinder the user’s progress as the user travels… In some implementations, rating database 110 can store information related to users’ ratings of routes and/or locations. For example, a user of mobile device 102 can interact with navigation engine 104 to provide ratings for routes and/or locations. The ratings information provided by the user can be transmitted to navigation service 106 through network 114. Navigation service 106 can store the ratings information in rating database 110 and route engine can determine routes based on the ratings information stored in rating database 110.
Apple also walks through a process of gathering user-generated alerts for routes including accident reports, road closures, etc. Apple plans on taking all the alert and route rating data and providing it to other users in real-time to improve route directions. In other words, if your device is detected to be in the same location as a user-generated alert, Apple will be able to push that alert to your device or suggest an alternate route based on the incident that’s been reported:
We showed you significant updates to Google Maps which leaked early this morning, and Google just announced updates to Maps at Google I/O.
Google also announced that its Maps API is used by over 1 million active sites and accessed by 1 billion unique visitors weekly.
Maps will now feature a 5 star rating system for locations across all platforms. Users can now swipe across results in a simple, gesture user interface. Zagat reviews are now more prominent with badges and cards simplifying its appearance. These cards now include a new Offers experience with partners including Starbucks.
Google Maps for Mobile also includes improvements to rerouting in transit and explore features. Google Maps for iPad was demoed during the keynote, which we expect to see with the iPhone update this summer. Read more
With the introduction of iOS 6 this fall, many iOS users will be left out on some of the new operating system’s flagship features. We already covered Apple’s official list of compatibility for iOS 6 features, and by far one of the most disappointing for iPhone 4 users was the news that they would not have access to the Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation features in Apple’s new in-house Maps app. Today, we have news from Russian website iGuides (via SlashGear) that iOS developer Anton Titkov found a way to get Apple’s new 3D maps up and running on the iPhone 4:
After yesterday’s release of jailbreak iOS 6 developer, well known to all users iGuides Anton Titkov (iTony) decided to dig a little bit in the new firmware, and became the first man in the world, who managed to get working 3D card on the iPhone 4. New tweak from Anton Titkova called 3DEnabler , and at the moment we can confidently say that it adds support for 3D cards on the “old” devices, but it is possible that the “unavailable” Turn-by-turn navigation will be defeated by our talented developer.
TomTom unveiled a new version of its iPhone and iPad app at CES 2012 that utilizes data from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to provide users with enhanced navigation to friends, places, and events.
The press release does not provide much information on exactly how TomTom is using social network data, but the company claimed it would be a source for turn-by-turn navigation features baked into the current iOS apps. TomTom will obviously have to avoid user-generated data that might be inaccurate, but it is unclear what specific data the app will access. From the screenshots above, it appears you will be able to easily navigate to friends who have recently checked-in (with their location) to a social network.
The new app, version v1.10, will also allow you to share your destination and ETA through email, SMS, Twitter, or Facebook. Managing Director Consumer at TomTom Corinne Vigreux explained:
In a report from Computerworld way back in 2009, we learned that Apple had quietly acquired Maps API company Placebase. Then, founder of Placebase and CEO, Jaron Waldman, started working at Apple on a new “Geo Team”, presumably helping to integrate Placebase mapping technologies into future Apple products.
Fast forward two years to a new patent application titled “Schematic Maps”, filed by Apple Inc. and published today with Waldman, along with Placebase co-founder Moran Ben-David, listed as inventors.
Essentially the patent describes new methods of modifying a map in order to highlight certain objects by distorting others. For example, Apple could provide more data to the user (especially those on smaller screens) by blurring useless data and highlighting what it predicts is most useful to the user at any given time. You can imagine this being particularly useful for navigation. If a user were to request directions to a specific location, the maps could dynamically blur data that isn’t helpful and modify objects or landmarks that would otherwise be difficult to locate.
A snippet from the patent summary explains:
The following relates to preparing and presenting schematic maps, which are maps that present information in a format that presents only information that is most relevant to a given situation in order to provide a simple and clear representation sufficient to aid a user in guidance or orientation. The schematic maps as described herein can be formatted based on the attributes of a display on which they are presented so that the map layout and presentation can be optimized for the particular display. The schematic maps can be “distorted” to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps can be devoid of adherence to a particular scale.
There was originally speculation that Apple might be acquiring Placebase in order to build their own native Maps application, rather than having to rely on Google Maps. With the patent wars heating up and relationships between smartphone makers weakening, the likelihood of Apple not wanting to rely on their rivals for key technologies is increasing.