Apple’s mapping partnership with rival Google will be officially terminated with the release of iOS 6, which will include Apple’s own mapping service. Announcing these developments at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, Apple said its service will include Siri’s voice capabilities, three-dimensional imagery, turn-by-turn navigation, and even traffic updates that take place in real-time.
Not all devices will be able to take advantage. Because the turn-by-turn navigation requires Siri to dictate directions, The Inquirer of London reports that only the iPhone 4S and upcoming versions will be able to truly experience these features.
Apple won’t be working alone: navigation firm TomTom will be providing the maps for iPhone users. According to The Register, TomTom has no conflicts of interest, so forming a partnership with them could be beneficial for both companies.
For Google, this could be a painful hit, as about half its map traffic can be attributed to iPhones and iPads, as well as the fact that useful mapping data can be acquired from these users to improve the mapping service.
Sony Pictures has launched a free mobile app in anticipation of the July release of The Amazing Spider-Man, focusing on astounding augmented reality technology.
For the app, a special shoot with the movie’s stunt team was arranged. Fans across the globe can activate animation scenes by locating special marker images, which are located in designated Sony Stores, the Activision website, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly. Since photos of Spider-Man can also be taken by the app in these locations, photos will therefore be unique to each user’s experience and can be shared with friends. Once activated, Spider-Man “swings through buildings, crawls up walls, shoots his web at the screen, or engages with nefarious characters on the streets.”
Mobile app developers have made sure Spider-Man isn’t the only film following this trend; Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has a companion app for its Blu-ray edition. The iPad app can be used alone or can sync to the movie, controlling playback and allowing fans to learn more about the characters and scenes on screen. Donnie Roach, executive director of creative services at Warner Home Video, mentions that, “You can think of it as a digital coffee-table book,” due to its imagery and ability to interact.
Battleship and The Hunger Games are also along for the companion app ride.
“Battleship: Destroyer Experience” lets fans explore the USS John Paul Jones as well as the enemy’s ship. By exploring each environment, exclusive scenes can be unlocked.
In the case of The Hunger Games Blu-ray release, the companion app gives more information on characters and actors, similar to the Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows app. Currently, the app gives a behind the scenes look at disc production as well as a reminder for the DVD release in August.
From horror to historical, soon there will be an app complementing the release of every major motion picture. Keep a look out this summer!
Multiple issues seem to be plaguing Siri, Apple’s PDA on the iPhone 4S, for those both in the personal and corporate world. For many, according to SheKnows.com, connection issues seem to be a concern. While Siri needs to be connected to the Internet to work, this still seems to be an issue despite having an Internet connection available.
One user has even sued Apple over Siri, claiming false advertising on commercials due to Siri’s “beta” classification. Tuaw.com reports that the lawsuit states that Siri is merely, “at best, a work-in-progress.” Apple has not yet publicly commented on the lawsuit.
Siri also will no longer be allowed for IBM employees. According to Technology Review, IBM has a “bring your own device” policy. While the company does distribute about 40,000 corporate-owned BlackBerries to employees, more than twice that number of employees access IBM’s network with personal devices purchased independently.
CNN reports, “everything you say to [Siri is shipped] to a big data center in Maiden, North Carolina.” What happens to all that data is still mostly unknown. Apple’s License Agreement says, “When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text.” This includes things like names, addresses and other personal information.
Google’s apps aren’t on the list of banned apps. One reason may be that Google’s apps cannot be used to write e-mails or text messages, so they aren’t as invasive as Siri. Also, as mentioned on the Google FAQ page, Google anonymizes IP addresses after 9 months. There is no information about how long it takes for Siri to delete or anonymize searches.
Siri is definitely still a useful product, as stated by Information Week’s contributing editor, Jonathan Feldman. “Siri took a lot of this column while I was on the treadmill,” he stated, “which probably saved me an hour or two of desk time.” For those that want a PDA that can reliably connect or are IBM employees, though, Siri will no longer do.
According to Yahoo! Finance, President Barack Obama has ordered all major federal agencies to make at least two of their services available on mobile devices to the public within 12 months. Obama said of the order, “Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”
But the order doesn’t stop there. As Mashable goes on to explain, agencies must also provide online resources for third party developers, create a page on agency websites within 90 days detailing the digital strategy, and report on their progress.
“For far too long, the American people have been forced to navigate a labyrinth of information across different government programs in order to find the services they need,” the White House directive went on to say.
However, there are those that are cautiously skeptical about the move. Chairman of the wireless innovation think tank, Mobile Future, Jonathan Spalter states that “American citizens won’t be better served by government technology and digital services unless more government spectrum is made available to enable these technologies and services.” In other words, while Obama’s idea is sound, a considerable amount of government wireless spectrum needs to be freed up for the project to be a true success.
According to Reuters, the FCC is willing to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in order to see if government users can share the same spectrum as the public. Time will tell if federal agencies and mobile app developers can work together successfully within the allotted twelve months.
Fragmentation has its pros and cons. It can allow users to choose from multiple devices while still using their favorite OS. However, with so many different kinds of devices and sizes, it can be difficult to create an app that looks universally presentable.
This is the big challenge for Android developers, as the Android market is one of the most fragmented with over 680,000 devices. OpenSignalMaps (OSM) experimented with this fragmentation by logging the devices that downloaded their Wi-Fi finding app, OpenSignalMaps. They came to some interesting conclusions:
Model-wise, OSM discovered 3,997 distinct devices, with the GT-i1900 (The Galaxy SII) being the most popular. Many devices were simply not widespread, such as the Hungarian Concorde Tab and the Spanish Energy Tablet i724.
Brands are also extremely fragmented in the Android market, with over 500 distinct brands. Samsung is the most popular, capturing over 40% of OSM’s market, with HTC and Motorola close behind.
A challenge mobile app developers face in the fragmented market would also be Android OS. Last year, Gingerbread, aka version 2.3 was dominant for OSM. This year, it’s a revision of Gingerbread (2.3.3+), not Honeycomb (3.0) or Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), as some would believe. Older versions of Android OS seem to stick around, making it harder for app developers to spread their wings in the market.
While fragmentation tends to make things complicated, it also gives people choices: with so many devices and OS available, consumers aren’t put into a box and can choose a device that really suits their needs and personality, even if it isn’t the most popular device on the block. This variety has also made Android a force to contend with not only in the US and Europe, but also in Brazil, Mexico, China, and Russia.
With Android apps reaching so many markets, being able to diversify has never been more crucial. We can help your app not only reach the iDevice market, but also Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry users. Request a call or contact us at 603-881-9200.
Zco Corporation is a custom software company with headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA specializing in mobile app development, enterprise software, and 3D animation.
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