Google apps are pre-installed on the Galaxy S6. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android
After years of examining the Android operating system, the European Commission has launched a formal antitrust investigation into claims that Google unfairly forces competitors into bundling its own apps on their devices.
A buggy iOS 8 update that killed cellular connections for iPhone 6 users is far more troubling than Apple’s other recent missteps. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
“It just works.”
Those three words are synonymous with Apple. It’s the slogan Apple fanboys use when trying to convince their Android-loving friends that iOS is a better option. And it was used over and over by Steve Jobs as he unveiled new products at Apple keynotes.
That makes it even more embarrassing for the Cupertino company when things don’t “just work.” Especially when it royally screws things up — as it did with the hideously half-baked iOS 8.0.1 update that rolled out to millions of users Wednesday morning.
Apple has been steadily working to improve its Apple Maps service since its disastrous debut a couple of years ago, and a new patent application published Thursday further cements that.
According to the application, filed in March last year, future iOS devices may scour through your data to warn you of traffic congestion on routes you are predicted to be likely to travel.
These journeys could be learned by your iPhone or Apple Watch by way of a smart artificial intelligence “machine-learning engine,” based on the frequency of previous destinations (say, regular appointments), location of events in a user’s calendar, location of events which users hold electronic tickets for, and addresses gathered by analyzing messages in the form of texts or emails.
Apple’s software testing partners have reportedly received a new iOS 8 beta build that fixes a whole bunch of bugs present in beta 5. It seems the Cupertino company won’t be making this release available to registered developers, but sources say a GM seed is right around the corner.
Former (?) iOS Maps engineer Chris Blumenberg. Photo: Chris Blumenberg
Uber has just poached one of Apple’s senior engineering manager, who worked on both the company’s Maps app and its iPhone software, says subscription website The Information.
The senior iOS engineer in question, Chris Blumenberg, was among the first engineers to work on the iPhone’s software — joining Apple in 2000 initially to help Microsoft port Internet Explorer and Office over to Mac OS X.
The Information editor Jessica Lessin claims that three sources familiar with Blumenberg’s jump to Uber confirmed the situation with her.
While iOS 8 has seen tons of improvements — from FaceTime call waiting to the ability to purchase iTunes content using Siri — there’s one area that hasn’t seen a major overhaul: Apple Maps.
Although the new version of Maps does now offer vector maps and other improvements in China, as well as a feature designed to give owners the ability to add more indoor positioning data, this was reportedly nowhere near what Apple originally had planned for the next version of its mobile OS.
Over the past year we’ve reported on various map-related patents which seemed like they would land on iOS before long, related to innovations such as user customizable maps. There’s also been plenty of talk regarding major under-the-hood changes to improve map accuracy; adding more points of interest; overhauling labels to make locations like airports, highways and parks easier to find; changing the overall map interface to make it cleaner; and adding public transit directions.
So why didn’t anything like this happen? According to sources the problems may have been the result of internal politics and generally chaotic project management.
Apple could be looking to make the Maps app more of a social experience. TechCrunch reports that Apple has bought Spotsetter, a service that let users search for places based on recommendations from friends.
Spotsetter worked kind of like Foursquare, expect that it pulled from a host of other social networks, including Twitter and Facebook. The startup allegedly had big plans for wearables as well, which could bode well for an imminent iWatch.
As the old song goes, “Google Maps and QuizUp, sitting in a tree, now both visible from low-Earth orbit.” It’s not catchy, but it is true – now the super-addictive trivia game has a Google Maps channel.