Here we are now in December and Apple finally did the right thing by allowing Google maps back into the app store. It was an obvious solution to a problem they created for themselves, which left users confused and upset after the iOS 6 update.
Last week, Google maps became the most downloaded app in the app store (over 10 million downloads at the time of this post) – not surprising with all the iPhone users out there looking to restore their map experience to its previous capabilities.
Releasing Google maps back into the app store as a downloadable app has created an opportunity for Google to add some new features to further rival Apple’s Maps.
In Map view, the slide-up panel with extra information such as street view, reviews, social media comments and user submitted photos makes for a more robust map experience than the previous Google maps.
Google didn’t just stop there. Most of Google’s iOS apps have been updated with new features and enhancements, making the most of the free PR created by the Map-gate scandal.
From Apple’s point of view, lesson learned – I suppose. Even if you’re at war with a competitor, you need to pick your battles carefully. From the users’ point of view, Google maps and iPhone already made a good partnership – why ruin a good thing?
Some Other articles on the topic:
Proof That Google Is Beating Apple On The iPhone
Apple’s wrong turn leads Google Maps on iPhone to 10M downloads in 2 days
If you’re in the market for a tablet this holiday season or if you want to buy one as gift for that special someone, there are a myriad of choices. It can be daunting with so many features and prices ranging wildly.
There is no way I can cover all the options in this post but I thought I would narrow it down to a top three list to perhaps make it a bit easier for prospective shoppers. To make it fair, I’m sticking to the 7” variety of tablet because this format appeals to a larger mass market versus their 10” counterparts.
This is not an in-depth review, rather I am reviewing each as a prospective buyer while comparing tablets in-store. The elevator pitch for each tablet will be evaluated based on how easy or fun it is to use in the first 3 minutes of trying it out.
- Display: 7-inch multi-touch display with IPS (In-Plane Switching) LCD technology
- Operating System: An Open source (forked) version of Android Gingerbread
- Connectivity: 802.11n WiFi and USB 2.0, and 4G version
- Storage: 8GB
- Processor: Texas Instruments’ dual-core 1.5GHz CPU
- Price: $159 – $199
- Application capabilities: web browsing, email, video streaming, e-books
- My UX Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Amazon, along with most of their major competitors, is morphing their e-readers into tablets and for good reason. Tablets are coming down in price and e-readers will most likely disappear or become endangered species in the next two years.
The Kindle fire is the best selling android tablet in it’s price category. It’s persistent functions and buttons are intuitive and placed where you would expect them to be.
For it’s price, it’s pretty fast and powerful, able to handle web browsing, video streaming and offers a nice display for magazines and books.
If you are shopping for an avid reader who enjoys having the cross-function of web and email, the Kindle Fire is a solid choice.
- Display: 7.0″ WSVGA
- Operating System: Android 3.2 Honeycomb
- Connectivity: Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 3.0
- Storage: 32 GB
- Processor: RAM: 592MB, ROM: 512MB – C110, 1GHz, Cortex A8 Hummingbird Application
- Price: $249 – $288 – depending on the retailer
- Application capabilities: web browsing, email, video streaming, e-books, camera, video recording
- My UX Rating: 4 out of 5
This is probably the best Galaxy tab yet. I have never been a big fan of the galaxy but I think they finally hit a home run with this version. It was pretty easy to get into with the persistent button placement making it intuitive to jump in and out of tasks. I see this as being the best choice for business travelers this year with its solid email capabilities and powerful hardware features. I know users who have stopped lugging their laptops to the airport in favor of doing everything right on this device.
It does a lot more than you would expect a tablet to do – maybe more than the average user needs. The price on the Galaxy Tab varies and to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out why. Overall, it gives you probably the most muscle for your dollar, even at the higher price point.
3. iPad Mini
- Display: 7.9‑inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology
- Operating System: IOS 6
- Connectivity: Wi Fi 802.11n 2.4 GHZ, lightening to USB, Bluetooth 4.0 (3g/4g lte cellular available)
- Storage: 16, 32 and 64 GB models
- Processor: Dual-core A5
- Price: $329 (16GB), $429 (32GB), $529 (64GB) – WiFi
- Application capabilities: web browsing, email, video streaming, e-books, camera, video recording, IOS Apps
- My UX Rating: 5 out of 5
“You already know how to use it”, Steve Jobs once said when unveiling the first iPad. I would say in the realm of marketing statements, this one is true. Apple’s IOS is one of the most user-friendly GUI ever designed. All the features you need, none of the ones you don’t.
Power-users who love spending hours customizing their experience may not agree but if we’re talking about a mass market and mass-adoption, the iPad is still pretty hard to beat. Within 30 seconds, you’re discovering everything that matters to you. When you have more time on your hands, you have the app store with the world’s most popular apps available.
Simplicity is the key: Keeping user options to a minimum has always been the hallmark of Apple’s hardware and IOS symbiosis. Something Android needs to learn how to do as an option.
Machine learning on IOS isn’t quite there yet but Siri has a large role to play in moving in that direction. Even on WiFi, Siri is finding restaurants checking weather and running searches – just as she would on my iPhone.
For most users, its about the apps. People choose iPads because they can have the best selection of apps. The mini is $129 more than both the Kindle Fire and the Kobo Arc (16GB models) but when you test drive it, you will know where those extra dollars went – better usablity.
If you love someone….
The winner in this review is of course, the iPad mini. If you love the person you’re buying a tablet for, this is the one to invest in. As I said, its a little higher in price than you might be willing to spend on a 7- inch tablet but it packs a lot of value into a small package.
I think back to when I bought my first iPad, which I paid over $600 for – and it didn’t have half the power and capabilities the mini has. I recently bought the mini and spent an evening watching a movie on it (Master and Commander: The far side of the World). After about 15 minutes, I completely forgot about the size of the device and was enjoying the movie as much if not more than I did on my 10-inch iPad.
It was highly anticipated, highly speculated and would have been the flagship product to usher-in the era of Tim Cook taking over as CEO.
I didn’t get one. I still have my iPhone 4s, which is only a year old and to me it seems the improvements on the iPhone 5 are really only marginal – not enough to do an early upgrade right now.
The hardware product, however, is only part of the story. On a day-to-day basis, hardware doesn’t make much of an impact on how you use your smartphone. The thing noticed most by users was the iOS6 software upgrade. I downloaded and installed the software upgrade on my 4s – reluctantly, I might add.
All the reviews that raged over the Maps app had me a bit worried. You see, I am a heavy Google maps user. My iPhone is my GPS device and Google Maps is what helps me get to client meetings on time. I thought I would take the reviews with a grain of salt and go ahead and install the new software upgrade anyway. Much to my dismay, the new Apple Maps app was even more disappointing than I expected.
I tested the maps application with a few addresses around Toronto and it seemed to be fairly accurate. I haven’t tried it outside of the city yet so I can’t say for sure if any accuracy bugs are there that effect me personally. What’s glaringly obvious though is the absence of street-view as found in Google maps.
I used it religiously when I was looking for buildings and landmarks near destinations and it was always a life saver.
As a user I feel like Apple has cast my mobile life back into the dark ages and all because Apple refuses to share the sandbox with Google. As a consumer, I would say my loyalty to Apple and Google products is about on par. I don’t care who produces the tools I need, I just want to know that I’m getting the best tool for the job. For geography, Google Maps has been a staple app and in my opinion it is the best tool for the job.
I can’t help but think back to a time when Apple was sans-Steve in the early to mid 1990s and how products were being released – well, kind of in the same fashion – half baked. I know Steve Jobs as well as anyone who read his biography and I’d like to think that if he were here today, the Maps app would never have gone to market in this state. It is a critical, highly used app and should have been at least as good as Google maps to make the iPhone 5 launch a success. This was not a place where Apple should have compromised.
Sure, there were bugs and issues with previous iphone launches (antennae issues and such) but I think this one is going to leave a mark for a while. If nothing else, it is definitely testing the loyalty of Apple fans who are now the have-nots compared to Android users who are still enjoying the Street-View feature on Google Maps.
I know Apple is working on the bugs in Maps but that just doesn’t cut it. If they really cared, they would allow Google Maps into the app store and let the users decide which one they want to use. As an Epic PR move and to show that Apple is the bigger man – Tim Cook would do well make that wish a reality.