Apple ousts Google Maps with a home-grown system for iOS 6

Apple has announced that it will be removing Google Maps from its native application in iOS and will be replacing it with its own mapping system with the upcoming launch of iOS 6 this autumn for iPhone 3GS onwards, iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod Touch (4th generation). It will include its own high quality 3D mode, and by all accounts it does pretty much exactly what Google Maps did, only in an interface that Apple think is far superior.

In the mean time, Google has been developing their own software on Android and both companies have been reported to have used fleets of planes that have ruffled the feathers of some privacy campaigners who complained having noticed an increase in airspace activity while tracking the movements of several large companies. Apple are set to create yet anouther easy to use and beautful app that will undoubtedly do its job very well. It is another example of Apple showing that making their products integratable with existing platforms is not the only field they are improving, but also the Apple universe that will one day probably be able to exist independently to every other system of computing there is. My concern is that Google has such a solid base, and with a single account you can connect all of Google’s existing services such as Gmail, Drive, YouTube and +, making them easier to use and more efficient for the user. That said Apple have added mapping support to Siri, the “eyes free” system which Apple is rumoured to have been working on with car manufacturers to develop add buttons for in new cars, allowing for a hands free, voice activated GPS and phone.

I think that Apple’s new mapping system will be good because things that come out of Apple are generally well received and the response by Google will probably improve on what they have now, which can only be a good thing for map users. If users wish to return to using Google Maps or use a different platform entirely, they should have the option to do it through the App Store, as there are a number of map apps available for the platform. Apple’s eyes free integration, however, is very promising, and it is very probable that it means Google Maps is on its way out for many Apple users. Apple’s initiative has yet again shown the company’s ability to remake everything in the image of their own minds.

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Is Facebook looking to buy Opera to make its own web browser?

Fresh from floating itself on the NASDAQ at a valuation of $104 billion, only to see share prices plummet by almost 20% in a week, and a $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, the rumour mill has sparked up again, this time suggesting that Facebook is set to acquire Norwegian firm Opera Software. Pocket-lint’s sources claim that Mark Zuckerberg’s company is looking to create its own web browser, possibly one compatible with the oft-rumoured Facebook phone, and that it is looking towards Opera to achieve this goal. The Next Web also cited a different source close to the browser maker, stating that the company was not only in talks regarding a potential acquisition with multiple suitors, but a hiring freeze has been introduced – a sign that big things may be coming. A Facebook browser could look very similar to RockMelt, a browser with Facebook integration and built from Google’s Chromium engine, but partnering with or acquiring a company like Opera would give Facebook independence from third-parties such as Google, thus ensuring total control over the browser, while also the potential to tap in to Opera’s 270 million monthly users. All of this speculation certainly seems plausible, and with Facebook’s tendency to roll out new features perpetually, it might not be long until we find out the truth.

Techslice: Some random thoughts about Siri

Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

Siri is truly excellent voice recognition software that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4S and probably the new iPhone I spoke about last week. Siri is useful in many ways, as you can simply tell Siri to do what you want and it will do it almost instantly. It is also very entertaining, as I found out when trying it out on my friend’s iPhone 4S. If you ask something it cannot answer, Siri strives to give you a witty and entertaining response.

Siri is also easily accessible, with two extremely simple ways to activate it. The first is by pressing and holding the home button and waiting for the Siri toolbar to appear. The second is able to be turned off and on, and all you have to do is raise the phone to your ear, wait for the beep, and then say your command. This is very useful as it would be nonsensical if you had to go searching for Siri when you could just as easily have found what you were looking for in a shorter time without your voice.

There is only one minor flaw that I can see from my extensive tests, and that is that you must speak very clearly. If you don’t speak clearly enough, Siri has trouble recognising what you say and will normally answer with the wrong thing. This is time consuming and is a regular occurrence if you try and speak in a normal voice. This was proved by Henry and Xavier when they tested it in October.

Overall, I found Siri excellent and it is by far the best voice recognition programme that I have ever used. However, I don’t see why Apple has made Siri exclusive to the iPhone. As the owner of an iPad 2, I am strongly disappointed by this and am living in hope that soon, Apple will add Siri to the iPad. Not to finish on a bad note though – as I said above, Siri is excellent in almost every way and definitely top dog among mobile voice recognition platforms.

Techslice: Why Prezi is the new PowerPoint

Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

Two weeks ago, I came across some new web-based presentation software. Prezi uses one simple factor that makes it simply fantastic – it uses 100% zoom transition. No flicking between multiple slides with petty little animations. No, as Prezi uses only one slide that you can fit just about anything on. It then zooms in and out of your different pieces of information to give you the ultimate presentation.

It is also completely free if you have an educational e-mail address to sign up with. This is normally your school e-mail address. So, instead of paying over £100 for Microsoft PowerPoint, you can use something better for free. And it has an iPad app. It really doesn’t take much time to learn to use either, as it is really very easy and is explained in simple detail on the websites excellent tutorials.

If you want to see an example of Prezi in action then visit this Prezi I threw together in about 2 minutes. If the link comes up with “No search results for…” then simply press the search button again.

All in all, I think that Prezi is a much better resource than PowerPoint, being generally better in any thinkable way, and it is therefore going to the top of the Techslice Top 10 of Internet Things – of one thing.

Techslice Top 10 of Internet Things

  1. Prezi
  2. Coming soon
  3. Coming soon
  4. Coming soon
  5. Coming soon
  6. Coming soon
  7. Coming soon
  8. Coming soon
  9. Coming soon
  10. Coming soon

Technophobia: Orwell was 28 years too early

Technophobia is a column by James Hardy. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

Welcome to China everybody! Yep, renowned file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is being blocked in the UK by five of Britain’s biggest internet service providers: O2, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and Everything Everywhere (aka T-Mobile and Orange or T-Morange). BT requested ‘a couple more weeks’ before announcing their position on blocking the website, but they are under no obligation to do so.

I can’t help but think that this is the beginning of a slippery slope. The government won’t know when to stop. They’ll block all file sharing sites, websites which have links to them, any search engines through which you can access these sites and, while they’re at it, why don’t they just block any anti-government websites? Oh snap, they just killed free speech!

They say that these sites take millions of pounds from the entertainment industry, but the truth is the money the industry loses is minimal. I download American TV shows from file sharing sites. Why? Because I can’t get them here in the UK. Show them over here, get more views, get more money from advertising, everyone wins. Simples.

Often the reason people download games from these websites is because they come out earlier in the US. People want things ASAP. Say a game is released in the US two weeks before Europe, and someone across the pond uploads to The Pirate Bay. So, if you live in the UK, you can have it now, or you can wait a fortnight to get it. I wonder what you’re going to choose? The same goes for films and music – release at the same time around the world and more people will pay for them. Fact.

The movies I download from file sharing sites are ones I wouldn’t go to the cinema to see. They’re ones I would wait to see on TV. I’m going to see The Avengers in the cinema because it’s going to be awesome. If I can be bothered, I might even write a review on STR. But other movies, ones which tend to get a resounding ‘meh’ from critics, I would download. So, film industry: make good movies and I will pay to see them. Cinemas are overpriced, too. It can cost me £20 for a movie and some popcorn. That’s too much.

The entertainment industry needs to get with the times. Services like iTunes, Netflix and Spotify are doing brilliantly for themselves. That is what the people want. Whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. The entertainment industry wants you to go to a real shop and buy a DVD. Sad though it is, human beings are lazy. They don’t want to do that. The entertainment industry needs to make things downloadable. Why not have file sharing sites where you have to pay some money which the industry gets to download something? Everyone wins.

Blocking The Pirate Bay won’t work. People will use things like proxies, *insert more technological terms here* etc. to get round it. And blocking it will just mean more sites like it will appear. It isn’t the answer.

File sharing sites aren’t losing the entertainment industry money. It’s bringing about its own downfall.

Another news story that came out last month was that of the government introducing a new law so they can monitor our email, phone and web use. Whenever they feel like it. Just like that. Which, according to the Home Office, will be used to tackle crime and terrorism. Of course. It’s interesting to note that Labour tried to introduce similar plans when they were last in power, but they failed due to massive opposition to the proposals, mainly from the Tories. But it’s fine now they’re in power, erm, why exactly, Mr Cameron?

The government will be able to look at any website you’ve visited, group you’re in contact with or email, text or phone call you have made from the last two years. Without needing permission from anyone. And to those people who make the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument, you are unbelievably naïve. Would you want someone to be able to open your post and reseal it? I think not.

So while the government criticises China, Iran and other countries with similar regimes for taking similar measures, they do exactly the same back here. That’s fair. At this rate, it won’t be long before they control exactly what we can and can’t do with the internet. They’re not far away from controlling our thoughts.

Anyway, seeing as how the government could block this site if they wanted to, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to call them lying, hypocritical bastards. Turns out George Orwell predicted what was to come pretty damn well.

Enjoy the future, people!

This article was originally published on Stuff Things Rants

Adobe Creative Cloud gives you access to software for just $50 per month

Now you can get Adobe’s entire suite of creative software and more for just $49.99 (£31.04) per month, with their new Creative Cloud service, launched today along with Creative Suite 6.

Tech

For years, Adobe sold Photoshop, Illustrator and its other applications for creative pros primarily in stand-alone boxes — like items on an à la carte menu. In 2003, it bundled them all into a multiple-course feast it called Creative Suite; today, that’s how 75 percent of customers buy their Adobe software.

Now the company is announcing an all-you-can-eat subscription service it calls Creative Cloud: $49.99 a month (with a one-year commitment) for ongoing access to all the Creative Suite apps and a whole lot more.

It’s unveiling the new service in conjunction with Creative Suite CS6, an update to the suite in its traditional form. CS6 includes an impressive new version of Photoshop plus upgrades to Illustrator, InDesign, Flash Pro, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro and other programs. It also has two new video post-production apps, Prelude and Speed Grade. Four versions of the suite are available, from Design Standard ($1299…

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Splashtop Metro Testbed lets you try Windows 8 on an iPad

Want to try out Windows 8 on a tablet but you’ve only got an iPad? Splashtop could have the answer with its new Metro Testbed app, which gives users the chance to use the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a simple iPad app.

Splashtop Metro Testbed, iPad, £17.49
Download from the App Store or visit the website

Tech

With $25, an iPad and a bit of curiosity, you can try Windows 8 on a tablet right now.

Splashtop, a maker of remote desktop software, has released a $25 iPad app called Win8 Metro Testbed. If you’ve got Windows 8 Consumer Preview running on a PC, Splashtop’s app will stream it to your iPad, while allowing for all the same touch gestures you’d get on a proper Windows 8 tablet. For example, you can switch apps by swiping from the left side of the screen or bring up a list of options–the “Charms” bar, as Microsoft calls it–by swiping from the right.

(MORE: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: One Step Closer to the PC’s Future)

On tech blogs like GigaOM, Splashtop is marketing Win8 Metro Testbed to Windows 8 app developers who don’t want to buy a Windows 7 tablet for testing. Chances are, a…

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