The Tech News Blog

November 14, 2013

MapQuest Returns With Overhauled iOS 7, Android Apps


When you think about MapQuest, you probably remember the days before Google Maps and GPS devices, when you used to print out a paper copy of your route before hitting the road.

The company is hoping to once again shake up the mapping space with a totally revamped mobile app. Launching today for iOS 7 and Android, the new MapQuest navigation app offers voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions along with handy new features like traffic alerts and one-click point-of-interest and location sharing.

"Our product and engineering teams went back to the drawing board and have completely re-imagined our flagship mobile app from the ground up," MapQuest Marketing Manager Laura Maxwell wrote in a blog post. "Our new MapQuest mobile app offers a personalized navigation experience that's both easy-to-use and safe for everyday drivers."

July 19, 2013

Report: Apple Buys Location Data Firm to Boost Maps

Apple logo

Apple recently inked a deal to acquire crowdsourced location data company Locationary, according to All Things D.

An Apple spokesman confirmed the deal, saying in a statement published by ATD that "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Neither Apple nor Locationary immediately responded to PCMag's request for comment.

Though its intentions were not revealed, Apple's move to snag the Toronto-based data company is likely intended to help boost its struggling Maps product, which Cupertino admitted "fell short" of its commitment to making world-class merchandise. CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized in late September, even suggesting that users, in the meantime, use rival applications like Bing, MapQuest, and Waze (since acquired by Google).

A "work in progress," Apple Maps has inspired a Tumblr blog and a parody Twitter account.

July 10, 2013

Google Revamps Android Maps App, Drops Latitude

Google Maps Android Update

Google has overhauled its Maps app for Android smartphones and tablets, giving it some new search, navigation, and discovery features. The changes will also soon be making their way to the company's iPhone and iPad apps.

"Today's update is an exciting step forward for Google's maps — one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go," Google Maps director Daniel Graf wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

For starters, the revamped app aims to help you navigate around traffic a little easier. In addition to current traffic conditions, you can now see reports of problems on the road and tap to see incident details. While you're driving, Google Maps will now alert you if there's a better route, and more quickly reroute you to your destination.

May 15, 2013

Google Maps Overhauled With More Personal Results

As expected, Google today unveiled a revamped version of Maps at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco.

The updated Google Maps, a preview of which is rolling out to developers today, makes the search giant's mapping experience more personal. It incorporates the technology that powers Google Now into the Google Maps experience, "so it'll get better and better, the more that you use it," said Bernhard Seefeld, product management director for Google Maps.

The Maps team, Seefeld said, had three goals with the update: creating a separate map for every single user; combining all of Google's mapping services - from satellite imagery to Street View to indoor photos; and making everything simpler and more powerful.

As a result, "we went ahead and rebuilt Google maps from the ground up," he said.

As some recent leaks suggested, the search box and its results are now layered on top of Google Maps. Nameless pins are also replaced with search results labeled directly on a map (below), with a description for top results. Filters allow for search results that incorporate recommendations from friends in case, for example, you want a sushi place that someone you know has visited and liked.

May 15, 2013

New Version of Google Maps Leaked Online

Google Maps Leak

Later today, Google will kick off its annual Google I/O conference, an event that often offers an sneak peek at the newest projects and experiments the company has in the works. Things got off to an early start last night, however, when what appears to be the next version of Google Maps leaked online.

The launch screens for the new version of Google Maps appeared briefly, but have since been taken down. But Android-focused site Droid Life managed to capture screen shots of the leak before it disappeared. The new Google Maps seems to incorporate data from your Google account to highlight areas and locations that are important to you.

In addition to the automated location curation, the new maps also appears to add Google Flight Search into the traditional Google Maps product, allowing users to easily plan trips directly from the normal Google Maps screen rather than visiting a separate site. Perhaps the most interesting feature, though, is the inclusion of Google Earth as an option. This is a combination many fans of Google Maps have wanted for some time, but up until now the most realistic topographic images offered by Google Maps have been Street View and the satellite viewing option.

May 8, 2013

Google Maps New Interface?

Google Maps New InterfaceIs Google gearing up to premiere a new Maps interface at next week's Google I/O?

The unofficial Google Operating System blog reported on Tuesday that the search giant is testing out a new look for Google Maps that sheds the traditional sidebar in favor of floating boxes on top of a full-screen map.

Information like location data, photos, and Zagat reviews look like they will be shifted from the immovable sidebar to a series of cards that hover over the screen, perhaps with the ability to click and drag across the page.

Those informational cards are becoming something of a Google staple, first seen in the Google Now application, and added to the recently revamped Google Play Store Android app, not to mention Google Glass.

Another rumored change includes the ability to refine local search results based on places recommended by top reviews or those in a user's Google+ circles.

Based on the two screenshots published by the blog, the actual map won't change much, but the author pointed out that the update will create a more immersive interface that integrates well with mobile devices.

March 27, 2013

Google Maps Gets Live Transit Info for NYC, D.C., Salt Lake

NYC Real Time Transit Google has updated Maps with real-time transit information for New York, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C.

With the upgrade, New York City subway riders can tap into Google News to find out when to expect their next train. Google added live departure times for seven lines; it didn't specify which ones, but a quick look at Google Maps showed information for most major lines.

Click on the N/R/Q line at Union Square, for example, and Google Maps displays the next four estimated departure times for those three lines in a pop-up window. Click the "more info" link for more times, as well as other nearby stations.

Google first added planned service alerts in July for all 468 NYC subway stations labeled on Google Maps. NYC transit directions were added in 2008.

In Salt Lake City, Google added real-time departure information about buses and trams in the region. Click the bus or tram icon on Google Maps for more details.

"With these updates – part of the millions of live transit schedule updates we process every day – you get instant access to the latest information right on Google Maps, making trip planning a cinch," Google said in a blog post.

January 6, 2013

Google Restoring Access to Maps on Windows Phones

google logo

Google said today that it is working to restore access to Google Maps on Windows Phone-based gadgets. The search giant blamed the blackout on a poor maps experience on Microsoft's mobile platform.

The problem cropped up on Friday, when Windows Phone users trying to access the mobile Web-based version of Google Maps found themselves redirected to on their phones. PCMag's Sascha Segan confirmed the problem on his own HTC 8X.

At the time, Google stayed mum, but the company said today that the redirect was necessary in order to provide the best experience on the mobile version of Internet Explorer.

"We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users," Google said in a statement. "In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality."

That's because the mobile version of Google Maps is optimized for browsers running Webkit, which Microsoft does not use.

As a result, Google said that it "chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to" That phrasing seemed to suggest that the redirect was in place for longer than the last day or two, and Google confirmed that it was, but did not have an exact date for when it was put in place.

December 20, 2012

Report: Upgrades to iOS 6 Picking Up Steam

Google Maps Hold the iPhone—it looks like Apple's approval of a dedicated Google Maps app for iOS has spurred a fairly significant uptick in iOS 6 upgrades after all.

Early returns on iOS 6 adoption rates after last week's introduction of the app suggested that iPhone users weren't in a rush to upgrade. But new research from MoPub paints a different story—the ad server for smartphone application publishers said this week that it's seen 29 percent growth in unique iOS 6 users since last Tuesday, the day before the Google Maps app for iOS was released (see chart below).

The MoPub numbers, based on MoPub Marketplace data, come on the heels of a report issued by mobile ad network Chitika on Monday covering the first 24 hours after the release of the Google Maps app. Chitika only saw a very slight uptick in iOS 6 adoption in that first 24 hours, from 72.77 percent to 72.94 percent.

The newer data indicates that conventional wisdom about some iPhone owners' reluctance to upgrade to Apple's most current mobile operating system was on the money—and lopsidedly centered around a single built-in app, Maps. With iOS 6, Apple replaced the popular Google app as the default Maps app on the iPhone, replacing it with the much-maligned Apple Maps, forcing users to go in search of other mapping apps, or access Google Maps through the browser.

The Apple Maps fiasco was such a black eye for Cupertino that the iPhone maker has reportedly purged several high-ranking executives and engineers specifically for their roles in its inclusion in iOS 6.

December 13, 2012

Google Maps for iOS Hits Apple App Store

Google Maps

Nearly three months after Apple removed the pre-installed Google Maps from its mobile operating system with iOS 6, the search giant today released a Google Maps app for iOS.

The free app is now available in the App Store and will work with devices running iOS 5.1 and higher, Apple said. At this point, however, it installs the smaller-screened iPhone version on the iPad.

"Get comprehensive, accurate, and easy-to-use maps with built-in Google local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions, Street View, and more," Google said.

That's likely a dig at Apple, which replaced Google Maps with its much-maligned Apple Maps. Those with iOS 6, however, quickly discovered that Apple's mapping solution was often inaccurate and buggy. Eventually, Apple's Tim Cook issued an apology, reportedly reshuffled senior staff over the gaffe, and even told users to check out competing products until Cupertino fixed its own mapping app.