Google Maps is now available as a standalone app for the iPhone and iPad.
This new version of the app brings vector based maps which allow for faster loading, better scaling and more offline caching. Also included are voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions and Street View.
If you were waiting to upgrade to iOS 6 because you didn’t want to rely on Apple’s Maps, upgrade away.
[ Google Maps App ]
Our new Nest thermostat.
We’ve been doing some sprucing up here at MyService HQ and decided to try out one of the Nest smart thermostats for our front lobby.
The Nest thermostat was created by the same team behind the original iPod. It was super easy to install, works with wifi and the iOS app looks great.
Probably the most useful features for energy savings are the auto-off feature and a function that utilizes the fan to reduce the amount of time the compressor runs.
After about a month of use we’ve determined that the device should pay for itself ($250) in a little over a year. A new model was just announced that is about 20% thinner. Since the first generation has the same functionality (via a free software update) you may want to pick up the first gen for a few bucks less.
[ Nest on Amazon ]
Immersed in the Apple environment, a certain amount of elegance becomes expected in the products we use. Mac users are quick to embrace hardware, software and peripherals that demonstrate thoughtful design and attention to detail. Not to say that people have become blasé about it, but it has become tougher to get that “Wow” reaction. If that is the case, be prepared for a double dose of “Wow” when Push Pop Press releases the first in a new class of digital book. Their vision of books running as apps on the iPad (and other iOS devices), filled with multimedia content, is different from anything seen so far. Although not available yet, an early description provides some background and detail. Clearly this impressive team has learned well from Apple.
The breakthrough is how they are planning to present the material. An innovative interface, that largely eliminates the visual elements that we are accustomed to, and instead lets intuitive use of multi-touch gestures, provides an entirely new experience. Look for their first title later this year.
[ Push Pop Press ] [ Daring FireBall ]
Another MacWorld Expo is in the books and as expected, the show did not resemble those of the past. Accurate attendance figures are always hard to come by, but the compact booths and overall scaled down exhibit floor made for a crowded, if not energized, event.
Macintosh products were a bit scarce, and it was hard not to notice the lack of representation from big, mainstream companies. There was plenty of gear aimed at iOS users and depending on one’s interests, there were a few gems to be found. There were grumbles about the lack of swag (top finds seemed to be pens and cleaning cloths) and no big news-making hits, but most attendees appeared to be enjoying themselves. Overall, there was a nice entrepreneurial flavor to the show.
The future of MacWorld Expo really depends on the manufacturers and publishers exhibiting. Will they see MacWorld as an effective way to reach customers and generate interest in their products? Are conference programs and workshops sustainable? Will the next show draw enough people?
It is possible that a trip across the country to visit MacWorld may no longer be justified, even for those looking to escape winter snows for a visit to San Francisco. However, with the large installed base of Apple users and fans in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and surrounding areas, and enough companies that don’t scoff at getting in front of fifteen or twenty thousand people, it’s quite possible that MacWorld can continue to operate, even if it becomes a more “regional” show.
With MacWorld 2012 already scheduled for January 26-28 of next year, I guess we’ll find out.
As of today, you can now pay at any U.S. Starbucks by having the barista scan your iPhone.
This is how it works:
You download the free iOS (or Blackberry) Starbucks app and fill up your Starbucks card with credit (like any other Starbucks card.) The app then displays a barcode that the barista scans and voila!
Not of fan of Starbucks and their new Trenta cup? This kind of technology is so easy to use that I’m sure other chain coffee shops will only be a year or two behind. Will this make paying for your coffee at Peet’s easier? Yes, but they’ll still take their sweet time making it.
[ Starbucks App ]
BMW has announced their first iAd for the new X3.
This interactive ad allows the user to customize a new vehicle, share their creation and schedule a test drive from their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using Apple’s new iAd platform.
We should start seeing iAds show up on our iOS devices by the end of the year at which time we’ll find out if the highly customized, “fun to use” ads will be more welcome than the banner ads we all usually ignore.
[ BimmerFile ]
Apple has recently released iOS4.1, a highly anticipated update for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G/3GS, and a majority of the iPod touch models. Fixes for the proximity sensor and bluetooth issues are included, as well as the addition of HDR photos, TV show rentals and the ability to upload HD video over Wifi.
The download is available through iTunes now.
One of the highlights of Steve Job’s keynote today was the announcement that iOS 4.1 will be available September 8th and that the update will include bug fixes that “we think you’re going to be pretty happy with.”
The single biggest issue for me since upgrading to the iPhone 4 has been with the proximity sensor. The touch screen will become active during a call and your cheek will inadvertently mute the phone, hang up or (my personal favorite) start dialing other people.
I’ve never had this issue with any other iPhone so hopefully this upcoming software fix should do the trick.
Apple is now offering volume discounts on iOS apps for the education market.
As more education institutions embrace the iPad, and iPod Touch the new volume program will make it easier (and cheaper) to deploy apps to end users.
Administrators buy blocks of vouchers that can then be redeemed with codes for app purchases. The new program also allows app developers to provide volume discounts on their apps.
Only Program Facilitators who are Authorized Apple Purchasers for education institutions can currently participate in the program.
It’s good to see Apple engaging the education market to find creative solutions for managing and deploying iOS apps. These apps have the potential to make a huge impact on students and educators.
[ AppleInsider ] [ Volume Purchase Plan FAQ ]
There’s over 200,000 apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Will Apple ever bring these apps to the Mac laptop and desktop lines? If so, how and when?
Most of these apps are built to take advantage of the specific form factor (touch, small screen, etc.) of the device, yet it would be great to be able to access some of these apps on your Mac laptop or desktop.
A lot of iOS apps could be run as widgets with simple mouse over control. The real trick would be how to incorporate multi-touch control without a touchscreen? If Apple were to “digitize” (touch input) the glass covers of iMacs, MacBooks and monitors, that would help deliver a more authentic overall app experience. Adding GPS to the Mac laptop line would also enable apps that utilize location services.
The question Apple is most likely to ask is, why do you even need to access iOS apps on your laptop or desktop when you can already do it on your iPhone or iPad?
My answer is simple, I want to be able to see and use multiple apps on the same screen at the same time. OK, maybe I just want to play Angry Birds on my work computer, but isn’t that reason enough?