Apple’s Mapocalypse continues: Google Maps on iOS

Last night, late, just before Midnight EST, Apple graciously allowed Google’s Maps application through the firewall to the general App store consuming public.

One key addition of course is the turn-by-turn voice guided directions which is very similar to Apple’s own maps, with 3D buildings, 2D/3D views (though not *the same* as Apple’s built-in maps), public transit, street view, and even more features honestly. Of course one of the nice things in this maps app, if the fact it’s here isn’t enough for you, is that you also have access to all those awesome search capabilities that Google just brings by default.

Lastly, Google Maps for iOS also provides one thing not seen before and that is synchronization between devices which is something that Apple has yet to provide regarding maps specifically. Overall, I think this is a massive thumbs up and I can’t tell you how much nicer it is down in manhattan than Apple Maps. No really, I can’t, I haven’t tried it in-person yet, but I can tell you addresses in Manhattan at least show exactly where things should be correctly. That feature, as any Australian will tell you is indeed priceless.

One final note on the Apple Maps subject, I still like Apple Maps for some very good reasons, One being it integrates directly with Siri and I happen to love using Siri for many things. I also like their 3d version much better than Google Maps, but when it comes to being accurate, sometimes, it’s really really important to get it right the first time. I think the gauntlet has been thrown and answered reluctantly, now to see if both Google and Apple are up to the challenge of cooperating.

Get your Google Maps in the iTunes Store.

Also, others have written cool stories, here’s one that I’m sure a lot of you will like from “Life Hacker.”

Apple’s MapGate: Fallout

The person in charge at Apple for their latest iteration of Maps has been let go as per This Story, but there is still a long way to go until “Maps” is ready in my opinion. Here is my first-hand account of using maps, when compared to many others, of which I’ll be posing a comparative later this week or early next week about several mapping apps.

First, folks complained about [Apple Maps] 3D version being all screwed up, and I mean yeah, those kinds of things suck, but I’ve had a lot of problems where I expect maps to be able to tell me and it hasn’t been working. In the field, like in Manhattan, there are *tons* of problems (Penn Plaza anyone?) and in NJ while looking for a gas station, or something like it, has been a huge pain. i.e. BP is a gas station, and a business. Looking for corporate headquarters told me it was a gas station, while the gas station was in-fact the headquarters. Trying to meet someone for a meeting when time is tight has caused me some hair-raising moments with regard to timeliness.

Simple, stupid, blatant issues like these, of which there are tens of thousands at least, (look how long google has been at it and there are still mistakes), not to mention in NYC you no longer have the subway schedules, in NJ no more NJT schedules(sometimes, depends on the day 😉 ), poor directions for walking versus driving, lack of efficiencies (telling you to drive up 3 miles to find someplace to turn around to come back almost 3 miles to the “correct side of the highway” so you can go the right way when you could’ve gone .1 mile south and done the same thing.)

I’ve been giving it a fair shot and driving on major roads has been fine, but it’s going to all those places not on the main strip that tends to suck and when you sold however many *million* phones, you have that many users with a potentially crappy situation where maps is concerned. At the very least a huge embarrassment for Apple, at the worst lost mind share for the quality they hold dear resulting in lost customers or revenue streams from partners.

When you look at the immediate impact they have by rolling out a sub-standard maps application like they did there are very real business implications from reputation to valuation and that is why Williamson was let go, not just that “maps sucked too bad.”

It’s because of these issues I still have 3 other mapping tools on my iphone and 4 if you count google maps web link!

Why multi-booting Android on PCs is wrong headed.

The Android operating system has a lot going for it and has become a very useful player on the mobile device landscape. With recent advances leading up to the 3.0 (honeycomb) version, the OS has been able to go from it’s simpler, sometimes shoe-horned type of one size fits all, into a one size that fits all because it is truly meant to, sort of.

Now that 3.0 has arrived, and has finally been delivered to consumers on tablets, phones, and other interesting mobile devices, many companies are even suggesting it should boot on PCs too. This is truly a mistake. It’s fine for hobbyists to have access to the OS to boot on their PCs, but it would be much the same to dual-boot, say … WebOS on a PC. Really kind of pointless except for marketers at these companies to say “we have our own flavor of Android or some OS and it comes with every PC we sell.” It’s a good marketing game, but in the end it offers no true benefit to consumers as nothing has changed with the delivery of this OS except more pre-used space on a bundled PC from a branded PC maker.

Adding touch capabilities definitely makes Android 3.0 much better and up to date, as well as all the other speed, graphics, and many other optimizations, like increased hardware support, etc. that this new version offers. So you’d think that dual booting in a touch screen PC like the HP TouchSmart might make at least a little more sense. Personally I still say no, not even for the recently acquired WebOS.

The reason I’m saying this is wrong is very simple indeed, and it comes down to one word: Revolution

The addition of such OSes is just that. Extra. Fluff. Flab. Superfluous. Much like our appendix has been considered in our bodies, overall doesn’t make much sense, causes us problems if it gets messed up, and ultimately has to be removed if it does cause problems. Dual booting PCs to the other OS that customers didn’t order will surely expose them to it, but the problem is are we exposing them much like those who ride on a packed subway car near someone with the flu or like our children when we take them to a museum and provide a lot of explanation and hand holding.

Adding another OS to the PC landscape is a great idea, but an idea which has surely been rushed. Consumers and PC makers will both have to make an adjustment to the OS once this starts happening, but if it fails in the slightest, this type of integration will be viewed as a failure the same that most of us still run Windows and Mac OS today, and not Linux. That’s not to say that North America doesn’t have a pretty large base of Linux desktops. But the average consumer will stick with familiarity and ease of use, often one in the same.

So what can these companies do to get it right? I think it’s simple, but I’ll say it here: Start a revolution. Don’t just say how cool this OS is, or what it can do, but use that old Apple motto to seize the opportunity and “think different.” Go another direction and actually innovate, invent, and discover things that you can offer to people to make our lives easier. Not this “add a different topping on the same sandwich” approach and call it better or disguise it as choice. It isn’t. I don’t usually rant too much about this kind of stuff, but like so many example before, we live in a time when there is another opportunity to change how people that use computers and devices think or how those that don’t might be enticed to. Alternatively those people will change anyway and these companies will be left behind trying to catch up, a decade later.

The ball is now in your court HP, DELL, IBM, SAMSUNG, MOTOROLA, and the countless others out ere trying this approach. Bring real changes, or the world will change without you.

Anti-fragmentation of Android can be good for Android

In a recent article posted in electronista.com Google VP of Engineering and Android leadership front-man Andy Rubin has been stating that Google is not trying to clamp down on creativity or remove ability for developers to take Android in a direction that makes sense for them.

In principal, I believe this is the best course of action for Google and anyone in the android community. My issue though, if you can call it that, is that the amount of fragmentation by companies like Motorola, Verizon, HP, DELL, IBM, to name a few, is something that can come back to bite Google as unforeseen consequences. This is by no means to say that Google doesn’t know what they are doing, but there are some basic facts that come with any degree of fragmentation. At it’s heart, Android is just Linux. This is important to understand because Linux in it’s own right had to face and deal with this idea of fragmentation a while ago. Overall, the sub-trees and coincident branches that have sprung from the original source maintain and persist in someway today, but when RedHat, Novell/SuSe, Gentoo, Debian and others started cooperating on a set of standards, based on the original Linux kernel and community that supported it. Those companies were able to create another, higher level of maintenance within the OpenSource ecosystem that is sustained by the “core” community who began Linux, supported by an amount of corporate interest, required to support their branches and resultant kernels, but derived from a single pristine source, the “vanilla” Linux kernel source.

By deciding on a hierarchy like this, companies and the Linux community supported by hobbyists, scholars, etc, the community has grown fairly well to enable room for everyone but with a clear set of usability rules. I would like to see a similar set of rules for Android, but with a twist. In general Linux, and most operating systems, have no concept of an “app store.” so here’s the twist Google, you are “the” one source, “vanilla” if you will, for how everyone should treat this OS, develop apps, create new versions, etc, and rather than say “we’re not saying let’s not fragment Android” I think Google should be saying “we don’t want to see deep fragmentation, but if you have to, here are some guidelines. And, by the way, there are quality controls available to ‘every’ version out there to ensure portability, minimum performance characteristics, and minimum graphics quality, interface characteristics, etc, to make it easier to curate and reduce the “effect” felt due to fragmentation.”

One primary example of how this benefits end users is the KDE project on Linux. I could talk about iOS but that defeats the point. KDE is fairly portable, has visual and performance standards, and CPU and memory requirements to boot. This all helps ensure the users, regardless of which Linux distribution used, are satisfies, happy, and content and can easily use any version that runs KDE. No re-learning, etc, and programmers can easily write once and just recompile for any version with a high degree of confidence the applications written for KDE will look and run as expected. The missing component though is a quality standard at should apply to consumer devices, even if there is open source at the heart of those consumer devices, the application requirements should be allowed to meet some minimum performance capabilities of the OS on which those apps run.

Couple this with the idea of “cleaning” the store in which this applications are bought and sold only serves to help consumers who want “really good” applications regardless of who’s device they bought with whichever fragmented version of Android. This means that keeping fragmentation to a minimum is in everyone’s best interest, and it is still more open an anything that Apple has ever tried to approach. But because the Android store is technically wholly owned and operated by Google, doesn’t it mean that like any retailer a certain level of quality in e merchandise should be stocked and a feedback mechanism should be in place to prevent poor quality from seeping into that store, and if it does, to be quickly and prejudicially removed. After all, if you’re not a good coder, provide poor support, unresponsive to complaints and bugs, and all around don’t provide apps enough people want, it really doesn’t matter how much you like. androids open-ness. Either put up, or get out of the game until you get better at it. Since a lot of folks probably won’t do that on their own, then they should just be removed until their applications go through some sort of review process to prevent that possible consumer abuse in the future.

And all of this can be dine by also being “open” about how much fragmentation Android at large can handle and still survive. What I truly dread is some of the previously mentioned companies fragmenting Android, and then the application store that supposed to be “the” trusted source masquerading as Googles application store, but with very different and possibly conflicting rules than what Android and Google’s core principles are. From that perspective, I say that limiting fragmentation is a good thing for Android. Thanks for reading and I look forward to what the future holds for Google and Android.

Discussion: How’s That AMOLED Screen Treating You, Nexus One?

I’ve been pretty excited about the possibility of the next iPhone, 4G or whatever it’s going to be called, showing a marked improvement in battery life, brightness, responsiveness, colors, etc. Well, darnit all to hell, someone would perform a scientific study to compare the screens of the iPhone 3GS and the Nexus One only to find out that things aren’t as rosy as the promise of this new technology may have seemed. (like that’s never happened before? Still, I was bummed)

So have a read over at AppleInsider.com and see what all the fuss is about. Honestly, the pictures, if accurate, are enough of a detriment to the screen quality that it seems OLEDs, or at last the one they used in the Nexus One, aren’t quite ready for us uber-users just yet.

Enjoy!