Apple ‘likes’ Facebook, drops Google Maps

Apple has ditched Google’s mapping software and made closer ties with Facebook, as the battle between the rival digital media giants intensifies.

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The decision to drop Google Maps was announced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference last night, where it unveiled its latest mobile operating system, iOS6.

From this Autumn, Apple will instead run its own mapping app, which has a high-quality 3D mode, on the platform.

The move represents a major blow for Google, which stands to lose mobile advertising revenue and valuable insights about people’s whereabouts if users of the popular iPhone and iPad devices switch to Apple’s mapping service.

Apple and Google are locked in a fight for the attention of hundreds of millions of mobile device users. The battle has been building since Google’s 2008 release of its Android operating system to compete against the iPhone.

Android smartphones from companies such as Samsung and Google’s own Motorola division are the chief alternatives to the iPhone. Apple has sued those manufacturers, accusing them of copying the iPhone’s features.

Google’s Maps application has resided on the iPhone since the device’s 2007 debut. At that time, the companies were so close that Eric Schmidt, then Google’s CEO, appeared on stage with Jobs to hail their kinship.

In anticipation of Apple’s announcement, Google has recently announced its own 3D mapping software last week on its competing mobile platform, Android. In a statement Monday, Google said it is “looking forward to continuing to build the perfect map for our users in the months and years ahead.”

Closer Facebook integration

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Apple is also making it easier for users of those devices to share their lives on Facebook instead of Google’s competing social network.

Apple is building Facebook into iOS 6, so users will be able to update their Facebook status by talking to their phones and declare that they “like” movies and apps in Apple’s iTunes store.

The tie-in with Apple’s mobile devices could be a boon for Facebook., based on the usage ofTwitter since that online messaging service became part of the current mobile system, iOS 5.

Apple says more than 10 billion tweets have been sent from its mobile devices since last year’s upgrade to iOS 5.

Facebook, though, has warned investors that it still hasn’t figured out how to make a lot of money from mobile devices, where so far it has proven more difficult to bring in as much ad revenue as on traditional computers.

IOS updates

Apple’s updated iOS software is being released in beta on Tuesday, and will be available for general consumers by the autumn, chief executive Tim Cook said.

It will be a free update for owners of either an iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS – as well as users of the latest iPad, the iPad 2 and fourth generation iPod touch.

Additional features include “eyes free”, a feature on which Apple said it had worked with car manufacturers to integrate a “Siri button” to activate the iPhone’s voice-operated assistant.
For the first time on Apple’s devices, video calls will be able to be made over a cellular connection, rather than relying on wi-fi.

Macbook revamp

The company also announced revamped models in its Macbook Pro and Macbook Air ranges.
Its new Macbook Pro is 0.71 inches thick, with a high-resolution Retina display. It utilises Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor.

Its slimline Macbook Air range has also been upgraded with enhanced graphics and processing capabilities.

Both will offer a free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion, the latest version of the Mac operating system which is set for release in July.

Among its features is enhanced synchronisation between desktop, laptop and mobile, thanks to iCloud, the company’s cloud-based storage service.

Once again, predictions that Apple was set to announce a long-rumoured television failed to materialise.

Read the official announcement here

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