Developers give in-depth look at Google Maps iOS SDK vs Apple’s MapKit

FastCompany today posted an in-depth look at the differences between Apple’s MapKit and Google’s recently launched Google Maps for iOS SDK from the perspective of developers. The lengthy piece gets insight from several iOS app developers with apps that rely on the SDKs and sheds some light on a few things that Apple is doing much better than Google despite a perception from users that Google Maps are superior:

“Google doesn’t currently charge for the Places API, but they do require a valid credit card for access–which gives you a quota of 100,000 daily requests. So you have to wonder if they plan to start charging sooner or later,” McKinlay explains. “That 100,000 limit perhaps sounds reasonable, but each user session can generate many requests–particularly when using the ‘autocomplete’ feature of Tube Tamer–and some types of requests count for 10 times the quota each, so it can get used up pretty quickly.”

While noting that Google wins out with location lookup services, 3D buildings, directions, geocoding, and better hybrid satellite imagery, the developers were also quick to point out downsides of the Google Maps SDK such as quotas for the Places API, an increased app size, and limitations with markers, gradient polylines, and overlays.

Developer of transportation app Tube Tamer, Bryce McKinlay, discussed some of the benefits of using Apple’s MapKit: Read more

Google’s Nexus 5 rumored to boast Nikon camera tech and branding

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Google’s much-discussed Nexus 5 might boast Nikon technology, according to a new rumor.

Phonearena reported on a tip Monday that claimed the handset’s camera module would feature a “triple camera sensor thing” and Nikon branding. The anonymous tipster also said the camera would be the Nexus 5’s main selling point.

It is worth mentioning that Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra hinted at the camera quality of upcoming Nexus devices on his Google+ profile last month. When asked by a commenter about whether a future Nexus could replace a DSLR, Gundotra responded: “We are committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see.”

Also remember that Google and Nikon joined last year to launch the Android-powered, point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix S800c. Google even acquired Nik software in 2012, which Nikon gave a minority equity investment to in 2005, as TechCrunch noted.

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HTC turns to the press to talk smack about Samsung and the Galaxy S IV

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Even before the Galaxy S IV was announced, HTC was on Twitter readily talking smack about the impending Galaxy S IV announcement. HTC’s first jab at Samsung started with the retweet of Yves Le Jan’s now infamous “Toys R Us” tweet:

As soon as the actual phone was announced, the floodgates opened and HTC decided to pull an all-nighter by tweeting anything negative it could about the device.

But HTC didn’t just stop at Twitter to spread the hate. In an interview with BusinessInsider, HTC’s President Mike Woodward had some harsh words for Samsung. When asked about his thoughts on the Galaxy S IV, Woodward said, “It feels very iterative. It looks a lot like the Galaxy S III…We were pleased to see no innovation in the design itself.”

HTC seems to be very glad about the Galaxy S IV’s plastic design, as one of the main selling points of the new HTC One phone is its all aluminum chassis.

While HTC seems to be cooling off its Twitter account, expect to hear more rhetoric from HTC as the Galaxy S IV starts to become available to the public.

Oh, and don’t forget Apple. Read more

Samsung Galaxy S4 profiled against iPhone on ABC news

This is what the normals are seeing.

Google preparing subscription news service on Google Play to rival Apple’s Newsstand?

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It looks like Google might be repairing a new section in the Google Play store specifically for news content in subscription and issue form. While Google already has a dedicated Magazine section on the Play store, AndroidPolice first noticed clues in code for the web version of Google Play that hint Google could be preparing to launch a new service dubbed “Google Play News.”

While we don’t get much information about the service, we do learn Google Play News could offer “issues” and “subscriptions”. This makes us think the company could be preparing a subscription news service that rivals Apple’s Newsstand on iOS. Apple currently offers both issues of newspapers and magazines in subscription form through its Newsstand app.

It’s not clear how exactly the Play News section would differ from the existing Magazine section, but AndroidPolice noted that the Google Play code points to the section having its own heading color. This suggests it will indeed be a dedicated category on the store.

As I’m sure you know, the Play Store is color themed – Books are blue, Music is orange, etc. So the most important question a discovery like this raises is “What color will the News section be?” It turns out we can actually answer this one thanks to the Play Store CSS (mirror). It’s yellow. The News section will be yellow.

It’s a possibility Google will eventually merge this new newspaper feature with magazines like how Apple’s Newsstand app works, but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure what Google officially has planned for the service.

Digg is building a replacement for Google Reader

digg-logoWhile some people may still be working through various stages of grief on the news of Google killing its Reader project, the folks at Digg are doing something about it.

We’ve heard people say that RSS is a thing of the past, and perhaps in its current incarnation it is, but as daily (hourly) users of Google Reader, we’re convinced that it’s a product worth saving. So we’re going to give it our best shot. We’ve been planning to build a reader in the second half of 2013, one that, like Digg, makes the Internet a more approachable and digestible place. After Google’s announcement, we’re moving the project to the top of our priority list. We’re going to build a reader, starting today.

This could get interesting. Read more

Google breaks up Maps and Commerce unit, Jeff Huber is out

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According to a report from the WSJ, Google is breaking up its joint Maps and Commerce unit. Additionally, Jeff Huber, the executive that ran the unit, is leaving his position.

The mapping unit will become part of the Google search team, led by Alan Eustace, and the commerce unit will be tucked into the advertising group, led by Susan Wojcicki, one of these people said.

Today’s news follows Andy Rubin’s departure from the Android team yesterday. Like Rubin, Huber is heading to Google X. The announcement was made internally via the same email that announced Rubin’s departure.

Read more

Petition to save Google Reader now at 30K strong

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The news last night, however inevitable, that Google was going to shut down Reader hit some people particularly hard. While I don’t expect Google to resurrect Reader any time soon (it has been in maintenance mode since the sharing buttons were taken down), it would be nice for Google to build and articulate a migration path for those affected. I’ve mostly moved to Twitter/Facebook/G+ for my news feeds. But, what if Google let you pull all of your feeds into Google Plus? Seems like a no brainer, right? Good for Google Plus, good for Reader folks?

Anyway, here’s the petition.

Read more

Google to shut down Google Reader, Snapseed and other applications in another Spring Cleaning

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The full list is over that the Google Blog but I know two that will be of particular pain to me. One, Google Reader (and likely eventually Feedburner along with it) will be sorely missed.

  • We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

In recent years the service has been demoted to far down the dropdown menu at the top and Google wonders why readership has dropped off?

Also Google purchased Snapseed last year to likely help out with some Instagram-type of features on Google Plus. It is now shuttering the Mac and PC Apps.

  • Beginning today we’ll no longer sell or provide updates for Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows. Existing customers will continue to be able to download the software and can contact us for support. We’ll continue to offer the Snapseed mobile app on iOS and Android for free.

More death and destruction at the Google Blog. Read more

Andy Rubin leaves Android for new role at Google, Chrome’s Sundar Pichai to take over

andy-rubinGoogle posted an Update from the CEO on its Official Google Blog today where Larry Page announced that Android chief Andy Rubin will officially be leaving the Android team to take up a new role at the company. Taking his place to lead the Android team at Google is Sundar Pichai, who will also continue his work with Apps and Chrome.

Page didn’t specify what responsibilities Rubin would have going forward saying only that “Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!”

Page also noted that Android is now up to 750 million device activations across 60 manufacturers, up from 500 million back in September.

Fast forward to today. The pace of innovation has never been greater, and Android is the most used mobile operating system in the world: we have a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play. Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work. Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!

Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. So while Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward.