Flyover for Apple Maps Expanded to Include New Cities in France, Sweden, Italy and Netherlands [iOS Blog]

As noted by Dutch website iCulture and reported by iGen.fr, Apple has recently added several new European locations to its Flyover feature for Maps, including Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Malmö in Sweden, Strasbourg and Dijon in France, and Turin in Italy. This expansion follows a similar update earlier this month that added Flyover to cities in France, Sweden and the US.

HSB Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden
iOS and OS X users can now take advantage of the Flyover feature, which first debuted in iOS 6 and OS X Yosemite. Flyover provides a detailed 3D look at a location, allowing users to zoom in to buildings and other notable landmarks in supported locations. The feature relies heavily on the technology Apple acquired when it purchased C3 Technologies in 2011.

Flyover was limited when it launched, but Apple has been adding locations at a steady pace with support for more than 100 cities worldwide. Apple also recently introduced the new Flyover city tours feature, which provides users with a guided aerial tour of landmarks in a select cities worldwide.





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Apple Hiring Maps Engineer to Work on Improved Community Crowdsourcing, Siri/Passbook Integration

Apple is continuing to work on improvements to its Maps app for iOS and OS X, and a new job listing suggests that better use of crowdsourcing and integration with Siri and Passbook are the next features the company will introduce to provide a better Maps experience.

The job posting, first shared by 9to5Mac, seeks a „Maps Community Client Software Engineer“ to join Apple’s Maps team. The engineer will focus on „building and extending the Maps application to allow Apple to crowdsource improvements to the Maps experience,“ and the position calls for high-level UI development and refining of the „Report a Problem“ feature in Maps.

According to the job description, deeper integration between Maps and other system services like Passbook and Siri may be on the horizon to improve crowdsourcing.

As an engineer working on Maps Community, your primary responsibility will be high-level UI development and architecture of the „Report a Problem“ feature of the Maps application, and you will work closely with designers and engineers across the company to add new features and build the very best crowd-sourcing experience. You’ll also be working on the frameworks and plugins that enable Maps to integrate deeply and seamlessly with parts of the system such as Siri and Passbook, to extend and enhance the feedback experience.

Since Maps received a highly critical reception following its launch alongside iOS 6, Apple has gone to great lengths to improve the software by leaps and bounds. In addition to terminating several people involved with the Maps project and restructuring its entire executive structure, the company has also acquired a glut of mapping companies over the past several years, including C3 Technologies, Broadmap, Embark, Hopstop, WifiSlam, Locationary, and most recently, the developers behind Pin Drop.

The company has also hired a range of „ground truth experts“ around the world to improve the quality of the information given by its Maps app, and it’s utilized crowdsourcing to introduce significant improvements to Points of Interest (POI) data.

Apple is said to be working to add much-needed features like transit directions and indoor mapping improvements to Maps, but development has reportedly been stymied by internal issues and poor project management.




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How Corning won Apple back and built the strongest Gorilla Glass yet

Corning’s relationship with Apple looked doomed earlier this year. Having manufactured the touchscreens for every iPhone since 2007, the Gorilla Glass bosses were all but sure they were being ditched in favor of synthetic sapphire crystal, set to be supplied…Read more ›



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Rules to live by if you want to be an Apple supplier

Depending on whether or not you can fulfil what is asked of you, being an Apple supplier sounds like it’s either the best or worst experience imaginable. In the wake of the crashing and burning of Apple’s former sapphire supplier…Read more ›



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Apple will save jobs in Arizona by repurposing sapphire factory

Apple plans to repurpose its factory in Mesa, Arizona, following the spectacular implosion of its relationship with sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies. A report from Bloomberg cites Mesa City Manager Christopher Brady as the source of the information. Apple, for…Read more ›



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iPad Air 2’s A8X Chip Includes Semi-Custom Series6XT Graphics With Eight Cores

New details have come to light regarding the iPad Air 2’s graphics processing power since its launch last month, with a new report from AnandTech revealing the new tablet’s graphics are even more powerful than previously thought.

Benchmarks and teardowns on the tablet revealed details on the inner workings of the iPad Air 2 in the days following its launch, but a new image of the A8X die provided to AnandTech reveals the layout of the Apple-designed chip. The die photo shows the A8X includes eight-core graphics, even larger than the 6-core GX6650 graphics from Imagination Technologies previously assumed to be in the chip.

To get right down to business then, the die shot confirms what we had begun suspecting: that A8X has an 8 cluster Series6XT configuration. All 8 GPU clusters are clearly visible, and perhaps unsurprisingly it looks a lot like the GPU layout of the GX6450. To put it in words, imagine A8’s GX6450 with another GX6450 placed right above it, and that would be the A8X’s 8 cluster GPU.

AnandTech was unable to share the source’s actual image of the die, but Chipworks has just provided MacRumors with a similar image showing the eight graphics cores taking up a substantial portion of the A8X’s die. The photo also shows the new triple-core CPU and a number of other features included on the chip.

A8X die photo from Chipworks
Uncertainty over the A8X graphics stems from Imagination’s public list of Series6XT graphics offerings, which tops out with the 6-core GX6650, but the new die photo reveals that Apple has employed a semi-custom design essentially pairing two quad-core packages on the chip to yield eight-core graphics.

Thanks to its licensing agreements with Imagination, Apple is free to modify the GPU designs developed by the graphics company, and Apple’s position as a key investor in Imagination almost certainly gives it advance access to Imagination’s pipeline, allowing such custom designs to be launched just nine months after Series6XT was announced.

Other gathered information includes details about the A8X’s size and design. The die shot places the A8X at roughly 128mm2, only a bit larger than the 123 mm2 A6X used the last time Apple developed a custom „X“ chip for the iPad. Compared to other models on the market, the A8X is a bit larger than NVIDIA’s 118mm2 GK107 GPU but also smaller than Intel’s 130mm2 2C+GT2 Haswell CPU. Design-wise, the A8X otherwise appears to have not drastically changed much from the A8, besides slight tweaks to make the eight-cluster design functional and the addition of a third CPU core.

Just yesterday, Imagination announced its next-generation Series7XT designs, and given the timing of this year’s announcements and releases, the new graphics are likely to make their way into Apple’s A9-series chips for inclusion in its 2015 iOS devices.




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Court docs reveal how Apple treats its suppliers (badly)

Apple and its former sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies have stayed quiet about their disastrous relationship, but newly unsealed court documents reveal that the two companies never had a chance of making things work. Judge Henry Boroff ordered the sealed…Read more ›



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The real reason Russians tore down Steve Jobs’ monument

Steve Jobs’ monument in Russia was torn down the day after CEO Tim Cook opened up about being gay last week. The incident was immediately blamed on homophobic Russians and the country’s anti-gay laws, but the school where the monument…Read more ›



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iPad Air 2 Display Praised for Antireflective Coating, but iPad Mini 3 Display Still Lags

With the iPad Air 2, one of Apple’s main selling points has been the improved display, which includes a new bonded construction that eliminates the air gap between the display and the cover glass, as well as a new antireflective coating to reduce glare in situations with high ambient light.

Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies has now put the new display to the test, finding that the antireflective coating is indeed a significant improvement for the iPad and a major step above competing tablets, but in overall performance competitors are still doing better than the iPad. Apple receives only minimal credit for the bonded display, as it is mainly catching up with competitors on that aspect.

A major innovation for the iPad Air 2 (that is not fully appreciated) is an anti-reflection coating on the cover glass that reduces ambient light reflections by about 3:1 over most other Tablets and Smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). […]

However, other than the new anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass, the display on the iPad Air 2 is essentially unchanged and identical in performance to the iPad 4 introduced in 2012, and is actually slightly lower in performance than the original iPad Air (for example 8% lower Brightness and 16% lower display Power Efficiency) – most likely the result of an obsession with producing a thinner Tablet forcing compromises in the LCD backlight.

With competitors such as Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft offering better color accuracy, viewing angles, and power efficiency, Soneira finds the improvements in the iPad Air 2 insufficient to move the device to the top of his tablet display rankings, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S retains its number one position.

Moving on to the iPad mini 3, Soneira unsurprisingly finds that the display is unchanged from the one used in the previous generation, unsurprising given that Apple kept the specs of the iPad mini identical with the exception of the Touch ID home button and a gold color option. Soneira notes the unchanged display is a „major disappointment“, as the iPad mini 2’s display has been rated poorly for color gamut and accuracy.

In 2013 the mini was given a Retina display, but remained with a reduced 62 percent Color Gamut – the only current iPad or iPhone without a full Color Gamut. Now, in 2014 the new iPad mini 3 still only has a 62 percent Color Gamut, plus it was denied the new enhanced anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass of the iPad Air 2.

Soneira again points to competitors offering higher-quality displays on their tablets, concluding that the iPad mini 3 is „embarrassingly mediocre and way overpriced“ considering its $399 starting price tag and significantly poorer display performance compared to both competitors and the iPad Air 2.

Full details on Soneira’s testing of the new displays are available in his extensive report.




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