Apple Maps Now Used Three Times More Than Google Maps on iPhone

When Apple Maps first debuted alongside iOS 6, it drew significant criticism for its inaccuracies in mapping data, errors when locating points of interest, lack of transit information and odd 3D mapping imagery. Many users opted not to upgrade to iOS 6 due to the app’s flaws, and iOS 6 adoption jumped 29 percent once Google released a native Maps app for Apple’s platform. Three years later, Apple tells the Associated Press that Apple Maps is now used three times more than Google Maps on iPhone.

Apple says its mapping service is now used more than three times as often as its next leading competitor on iPhones and iPads, with more than 5 billion map-related requests each week. Research firm comScore says Apple has a modest lead over Google on iPhones in the U.S., though comScore measures how many people use a service in a given month rather than how often.

While a lot of the usage gains for Apple Maps can be attributed to Apple Maps being a built-in app that’s the default mapping solution for features like Siri and Mail and third-party apps like Yelp, the AP notes that many users who once spurned by Apple Maps have returned. Additionally, many new iPhone users did not experience the troubles of Apple Maps, instead using the newer, more improved version.

Although Apple now holds the lead in mapping on iOS, Google still dominates among all U.S. smartphone owners, with Google Maps having two times more users than Apple Maps. However, much of this is attributed to Apple Maps only being available on iOS while Google Maps is available on both Android and iOS.

In recent years, Apple has made numerous efforts to improve its mapping service. Apple has purchased companies like GPS firm Coherent Navigation and mapping company Placeable in addition to expanding its in-house teams and making data-sharing deals with companies like Foursquare. The Cupertino company has also beefed up Apple Maps with a fleet of mapping vehicles capturing data and introducing new features like Transit directions and, in the future, indoor mapping.

In total, Apple now gets data „from more than 3,000 sources“ for business listings, traffic and more. For its new Transit features, Apple even sent out teams to map out subway entrances and signs.

Tag: Apple Maps
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Apple Partners With SunPower Corporation to Build Two Solar Power Plants in China [Mac Blog]

Environmentally conscious solar panel manufacturer SunPower Corporation today announced a partnership with Apple that will result in two solar power projects totaling 40 megawatts in the „environmentally-preserved“ ABA Region of China’s Sichuan Province.

Currently under construction, the projects will be split across two sites both eventually totaling 20 megawatts each. The first site, located in Hongyuan, is already generating 2 megawatts of power thanks to technology that includes single-axis tracking with rows of parabolic mirrors that reflect light onto SunPower’s „Maxeon“ cells, „which are the world’s most efficient commercially available mass-produced solar cells.“ The second project is located in Ruoergai County.

As the first solar powered projects deployed in the ABA Region, the combined sites are expected to churn out up to 80 million kilowatt-hours each year. Upon completion, each project will be co-owned by Apple and Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co., Ltd, SunPower’s project development joint venture. Work on both sites is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2015.

Speaking with The Associated Press, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for environmental initiatives, discussed the new China-focused solar power project, suggesting the company’s partnership with SunPower in the region is only the start of a bigger environmentally-focused push by Apple.

„It’s important to us to tackle climate change everywhere we are,“ Jackson told The Associated Press. „When you talk about China, you’re talking about manufacturing partners. We’re looking to bring the same innovation there. This is the start.“

„Before we go somewhere else and start asking and eventually requiring clean energy, you want to make sure you show folks how to do it,“ said Jackson, who was U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator during President Barack Obama’s first term.

Apple and SunPower have collaborated stateside in the past, with six plants ranging from California to Nevada and North Carolina. Today’s announcements mark the first international solar power partnership between Apple and SunPower.




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Former Apple Manager Sentenced to One Year in Prison, $4.5 Million Fine in Leaked Secrets Case [Mac Blog]

Former Apple Global Supply Manager Paul Devine will face a year in prison and a hefty $4.5 million fine for leaking secrets of the company to various accessory manufacturers in exchange for kickbacks, reports Associated Press.

The sentencing comes over three years after Devine pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy in relation to the leaking of Apple secrets. At the time, Devine faced a possible twenty-year sentencing over the fraud and money laundering counts.

(Image via 9to5Mac)
Devine was Apple’s Global Supply Manager for five years, from 2005 through his arrest in August of 2010. The specifics of why Devine received a far shorter sentence than the possible twenty years he originally faced and the basis of the $4.5 million fine are unclear, as Devine’s kickback amount was previously estimated at roughly $1 million.

One of the confirmed companies Devine received kickbacks from was Kaedar Electronics, which was a subsidiary of long-time Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron. Kaedar supplied Apple with iPod packing boxes starting in 2005, and admitted to paying kickbacks to an intermediary company between 2005 and 2008 in exchange for confidential Apple information that assisted certain contract negotiations with the company.




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AT&T Stops Using ‘Perma-Cookies’ to Track Customer Web Activity

In late October, researchers discovered that AT&T and Verizon had been engaging in some unsavory customer tracking methods, using unique identifying numbers or „perma-cookies“ to track the websites that customers visited on their cellular devices to deliver target advertisements.

Following significant negative attention from the media, AT&T today told the Associated Press that it is no longer injecting the hidden web tracking codes into the data sent from its customers’ devices.

The change by AT&T essentially removes a hidden string of letters and numbers that are passed along to websites that a consumer visits. It can be used to track subscribers across the Internet, a lucrative data-mining opportunity for advertisers that could still reveal users’ identities based on their browsing habits.

AT&T’s customer tracking practices, called „Relevant Advertising,“ were the result of a pilot program the company had been experimenting with, which has apparently come to an end.

While AT&T has opted to stop using the invasive tracking method, Verizon is continuing to utilize perma-cookies to track the web activity of its customers. Unlike AT&T’s experimental program, Verizon has been using Relevant Advertising techniques for approximately two years.

Verizon Wireless, the country’s largest mobile firm, said Friday it still uses this type of tracking, known as „super cookies.“ Verizon spokeswoman Debra Lewis said business and government customers don’t have the code inserted. There has been no evidence that Sprint and T-Mobile have used such codes.

„As with any program, we’re constantly evaluating, and this is no different,“ Lewis said, adding that consumers can ask that their codes not be used for advertising tracking. But that still passes along the codes to websites, even if subscribers say they don’t want their data being used for marketing purposes.

Verizon and AT&T customers are able to check whether their devices are sending identifying codes by visiting a website created by Kenneth White, one of the security researchers who discovered the tracking methods.

While Verizon customers can opt out of tracking on the Verizon website, that does not stop the identifying code from being inserted into the URLs of the websites that they visit.




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U2’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ Accessed Over 33 Million Times Since Start of iTunes Promotion [iOS Blog]

Six days after it began offering U2’s latest album „Songs of Innocence“ for free to 500 million iTunes customers, Apple has announced (via the Associated Press) that over 33 million customers have accessed the record.

In a statement, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software and Services Eddy Cue called the numbers record-breaking, and said that the numbers include users who downloaded the album from their iTunes account, streamed it, or used iTunes Radio to listen to it.

Earlier this morning, Apple also released a tool for customers to delete the U2 album off of their iTunes accounts, as some users were upset with it being added to their devices without their knowledge.

Last Friday, it was reported that Songs of Innocence was downloaded 2 million times after three days of being made available. The album will be free for iTunes customers until October 13.




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Apple Bans Two Hazardous Chemicals From Final iPhone Assembly Process

Apple announced today that it is banning the use of benzene and n-hexande, two potentially hazardous chemicals, during final assembly for both iPhone and iPad, according to the Associated Press. Benzene is a carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia when not handled properly and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage.

The decision announced Wednesday comes five months after the activist groups China Labor Watch and Green America launched a petition drive calling on Apple Inc. to abandon the use of benzene and n-hexane in the production of iPhones.

The Cupertino company conducted a four-month investigation at 22 factories and found no evidence that either benzene or n-hexane endangered the 500,000 workers at those factories. Four of the factories had traces of the two chemicals at „acceptable safety levels“ while the other 18 contained no trace of either.

Still, Apple decided to order its suppliers to stop using the two chemicals for final assembly for iPhones, iPads, Macs, iPods and accessories. The factories will also be required to test all substances to make sure the chemicals aren’t present, even if they’re not listed in the ingredients. The two chemicals are often found in cleaner used on machinery and electronics.

However, Apple will still allow benzene and n-hexane at plants responsible for the early production phase of its devices, which are, for the most part, different from the final assembly plants. Apple is lowering the maximum amount of the two chemicals that can be used during early processes.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives, told the AP that the company wanted to be „responsive to concerns“ and „crack down on chemical exposures“.

„We think it’s really important that we show some leadership and really look toward the future by trying to use greener chemistries.“

The two chemicals aren’t exclusively used by Apple’s manufacturing processes, as other large tech companies have faced the same criticisms. Small traces of benzene can also be found in gasoline, cigarettes, paints, glues and more.




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