Google has released its anticipated Google Maps app for iOS. The app is designed for the iPhone and iPod touch, but runs on the iPad in a lower-resolution window. Google Maps features Google’s local search, vector-based maps, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions, Street View, imagery inside 100,000 businesses worldwide, walking directions, live traffic information, and more. Developers can embed Google Maps into their applications using the new Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a URL scheme allows Google Maps to be launched from any iOS app or web application, giving third-party developers options for circumventing Apple’s Maps.
Google claims that the completely redesigned iOS app is “even better than Google Maps for Android phones,” according to The New York Times. It’s noted that offline map saving and an iPad-specific app will be on the way soon. Google Maps requires iOS 5.1 or later.
Twitter’s new iOS app update has arrived in the App Store, and as recently suggested by the company now features eight Instagram-esque photo filters. The filters, powered by Aviary, can be seen in a grid view. An auto-enhancing wand and crop and scale feature are also included in the update. The update comes after Instagram recently disabled its Twitter Card integration — Instagram photos no longer show up on Twitter, instead linking to Instagram’s website, as the two services grow further apart.
The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report criticizing the privacy practices of the makers of kids apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. Titled “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” the FTC report found almost 60 percent of 400 popular kids apps transmitted device information to the developer or another third party, such as an advertising network. Only 20 percent of the apps reviewed disclosed any information regarding privacy practices. Also, 17 percent of apps reviewed offered the ability to purchase virtual goods within the app — with in-app purchases ranging from 99 cents to $29.99 in the App Store. “The results of the survey are disappointing,” the report reads. “Industry appears to have made little or no progress in improving its disclosures since the first kids’ app survey was conducted, and the new survey confirms that undisclosed sharing is occurring on a frequent basis.” The FTC’s previous report was issued in February.
The report’s conclusion calls on everyone involved in the app marketplace to develop accurate disclosures regarding shared data. It also notes that “FTC staff has initiated a number of investigations to address the gaps between company practices and disclosures. These discrepancies could constitute violations of COPPA or the FTC Act’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive practices.” [via The Wall Street Journal]
Apple has refused to approve an update by Microsoft to its SkyDrive iOS app after the company began offering additional storage subscriptions, according to a report from The Next Web. Microsoft found a recent update to its SkyDrive iOS app rejected by Apple after enabling users of the cloud file-sharing service to purchase more storage space. The report notes that “Microsoft does not appear keen to pay Apple the 30% cut, as it lasts in perpetuity, regardless of whether a user continues to use an iOS device or not, as the billing is through their Apple account;” however, users should be able to cancel App Store-based subscriptions at any time and subscribe through other means. Microsoft has apparently offered to remove all subscription options on the app, but this compromise has not been accepted by Apple.
Since launching in-app subscription services in early 2011, Apple has required developers to use its own In-App Purchasing system for any subscription or content purchases that are accessible from an iOS application. Although companies have traditionally been free to offer their subscription services via other means such as a web site, these cannot be available or advertised within an iOS app unless Apple’s IAP system is being used, for which Apple takes a 30% share of subscription fees.
Notably, this issue also appears to affecting Apple’s approvals of third-party applications that integrate with SkyDrive. While the exact reasons for this are unclear at this time, a similar situation occurred with popular cloud-sharing service Dropbox several months ago, with the problem ultimately being traced to the appearance of subscription purchasing links in the web pages used to log in to the service.
- December 10, 2012
- Apps + Games
References to unreleased Microsoft Office applications for iOS devices have been spotted on Microsoft’s support website. The French version of the site makes reference to Excel for iPad, while the Romanian version of the site refers to Office Mobile for iPhone and PowerPoint for iPad. Reports have already pointed to a 2013 release of Office for iOS; these leaks provide further verification of an impending launch. [via MacRumors]
Australian police have cautioned iOS 6 Maps users after a number of motorists have become stranded within the country’s Murray-Sunset National Park — it’s become enough of a concern to issue a public warning regarding the mapping system. Travelers seeking the city of Mildura have ended up in the middle of the park, about 43 miles from the actual location of Mildura. Police note some of the travelers “have been stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water and have walked long distances through dangerous terrain to get phone reception.” There’s no water supply within the park, and temperatures can reach 114 degrees. Police by noting that “[a]nyone travelling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified.”
Google has released an update to its YouTube app for iOS adding support for the larger display on the iPhone 5 as well as a native iPad user interface. The new version also provides direct support for streaming videos via AirPlay without requiring AirPlay Mirroring to be enabled, allows quicker access to the user’s channel guide and the ability to add and remove videos from playlists. Additional improvements include clickable links in video descriptions and improved VoiceOver support for accessibility.
Apple has released a set of updates to its iWork apps for iOS devices, adding improved compatibility with iWork for OS X and Microsoft Office documents. Pages 1.7 adds the ability to use change tracking to collaborate on documents while Numbers 1.7 adds support for hiding and unhiding rows and columns and importing and exporting Numbers for Mac spreadsheets with filters. Keynote 1.7 improves import and export for Microsoft Powerpoint and Keynote for Mac presentations with support for expanded slide sizes as well as well as presentation themes, master slides and preset styles; users can also now play back all Keynote action builds including move, rotate, scale and opacity.
The Daily will cease publication on Dec. 15, according to AllThingsD. News Corp.‘s attempt at an iPad-based daily newspaper existed as an app, and lasted less than two years following a high-profile debut event in New York City that Apple participated in. News Corp. said that “Technology and other assists from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into” the New York Post — about 120 employees work for The Daily. News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a press release, “From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term.” iLounge’s review of The Daily noted major problems with both the user interface and content, mentioning that “[p]recious little in The Daily is written to appeal to college-educated people, and in the first two editions, a surprising amount of it had been written or edited into a mush of junk.”
Alongside iTunes 11, Apple has released a new version of the Remote iOS app for iTunes. Remote version 3.0 is redesigned, featuring an iPad interface that more closely resembles the look of iTunes 11, plus a more powerful search feature that delivers real-time results as you type.
Up Next, which offers a simpler way of seeing the next songs in a playlist, is included, as is an Expanded view that shows all songs on an album. The app is also optimized for the iPhone 5. Remote 3.0 also features new icons for both itself and connected iTunes libraries, now with gray accents rather than black ones.
Nokia’s HERE Maps application is now available for iOS. The mapping program was released today after being announced one week ago. HERE Maps is a HTML5-based application that features voice-guided walking navigation, live traffic view, public transport directions, search history, map sharing, and offline capabilities, as maps can be saved for offline viewing.
Maps for almost 200 countries are included at launch, with selected countries featuring community maps created and updated by users. HERE Maps is optimized for iPhone 5 and is available for free download at the App Store.
Google is putting the “finishing touches” on a new mapping app for the iPhone, according to The Wall Street Journal. Test versions have been distributed, but it’s still unknown as to when Google will submit the app to the iTunes Store for approval. Turn-by-turn navigation is expected to be included in the app. A recent report indicated that some sources doubt Apple will approve Google’s Maps app, a point that has been disputed by subsequent reports. regardless, phone and mapping rival Nokia may beat Google to the punch in releasing a high-profile alternative to iOS 6 Maps.
Apple’s iOS 6 Maps now feature turn-by-turn voice navigation for Australia, a feature that recently went live after being promised for October. Former Apple iOS chief Scott Forstall previously said the data needed to be “exceptional and qualified” before voice navigation went live, and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to rolling out properly vetted additions to the service. [via 9to5Mac]
Nokia has announced that it will be launching a new maps application for iOS under the HERE brand “in the coming weeks.” Based on HTML5, Nokia’s maps application will be a free download from the App Store and will feature voice-guided walking navigation, public transport directions, and offline capabilities. As The New York Times reports, Nokia hopes its mapping program can remain competitive by acquiring a larger user base, Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop said. With the future of a Google Maps iOS app still uncertain, Nokia looks to be the first to release a new high-profile mapping alternative to iOS 6 Maps.
Apple has updated its Apple Store iPhone and iPod touch app adding Siri integration for compatible devices and rolled out its EasyPay feature to five additional countries. With the latest version, users can now make requests to Siri such as “I want to buy an iPad mini” or “Find prices on MacBook Pro” directly opening the Apple Store app to the appropriate page. Users in Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany can also now take advantage of EasyPay, a feature that allows purchases to be made in an Apple Retail Store with an iPhone 4/4S/5 by scanning the barcode with the camera and completing the transaction directly within the app. Apple Store 2.4 requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has increased the prices of apps sold in Europe due to exchange rates, ComputerWorld notes. The minimum price for an app purchased in the Euro zone is now €0.89 —about $1.15 — up from €0.79. Apple takes about 39 percent of each sale, while developers get roughly 61 percent. “From time to time Apple adjusts prices of products in countries due to changes in exchange rates,” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said in an email.
Also, more app buyers can now make purchases in their local currencies instead of U.S. dollars. Local currencies supported in the App Store now include Russian rubles, Turkish lira, Indian rupees, Indonesian rupiah, Israeli shekels, Saudi Arabian riyals, South African rand, United Arab Emirates dirhams, and Danish kroner.
Apple announced a major new upgrade to iBooks for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch during today’s special event. The new version features an optional continuous scrolling mode for reading, sharing of information via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter and support for over 40 languages, including Korean, Chinese and Japanese, including appropriate font styles and page turning directions. iCloud integration has also been improved, effectively providing users with easier access to their iBookstore purchases in iCloud directly on their virtual bookshelf. The iBooks update is expected to be available on the App Store later today as a free download.
Updated: iBooks 3 has been released.
During its special event today, Apple unveiled a new version of iBooks Author, its creation tool for iBooks. The new version of iBooks Author provides a collection of new templates along with the ability to implement their own custom fonts and insert mathematical expressions directly into books. Additional new features include multitouch widgets and the ability to easily update iBooks online when new editions or content updates are released. The latest version of iBooks Author is expected to be available on the Mac App Store later today as a free download.
- October 4, 2012
- Apps + Games
ESPN’s free iOS app, WatchESPN, has been updated to offer AirPlay support for all ESPN channels. Consequently, Apple TV users now have AirPlay-enabled access to live streaming feeds of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and the online-only ESPN3, although access to the app is based on a user’s participating TV provider or Internet service provider.
Current participating TV providers are Bright House Networks, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS TV. Notably, Verizon High Speed Internet is the only participating Internet service provider, and it only offers access to ESPN3. The app includes support for AirPlay streaming in the background, so users can continue to use their devices while content is streamed to a TV.
iOS 6 users with iPhones and iPod touches can now add the Starbucks app to Apple’s Passbook, thanks to a new update. Existing Starbucks Card holders can add their cards to the app for phone payment and rewards, while users without cards can sign up for a new mobile card. Up to 10 “favorite stores” can be added to the app — your device can use geofencing to recognize that you’ve entered one of those stores, and load your card accordingly. To add the card to Passbook, sign in, then go to My Card>Manage>Add Card to Passbook. Note that while the Starbucks app is not yet formatted for iPhone 5, it runs properly in the center of the new iPhone’s taller screen.