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EARTH OBSERVATION
Apple unveils maps program, challenging Google
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) June 11, 2012


Apple unveiled its own mapping program Monday, challenging Google for the popular software application and opening up a new front in the war with the maker of the Android operating system.

Apple's new iOS 6 operating system for the iPhone and iPad includes "an entire new mapping solution from the ground up, and it is beautiful," Apple's Scott Forstall told the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

"We are doing all the cartography ourselves. We are covering the world," Forstall said.

Apple has "ingested hundreds of millions of business listings around the world," he added, and has integrated with the consumer review service Yelp for reviews and ratings.

The Apple maps program will includes real-time traffic, updated with help from users "to keep traffic info fresh and up to date," he added,

The move means Apple, which is in a battle against devices powered by Google's Android operating system, will no longer rely on the Google program for its main maps application.

Apple has been in an intense legal battle with makers of Android devices, contending the open-source software infringes on patents from the iPhone and its operating system.

Although maps does little to generate revenues directly, it often links to searches for products and services such as restaurants or businesses.

Analysts say the Apple maps program could over time move iPhone and iPad users away from Google search and reduce revenues for the search giant.

Apple said its iOS 6 will be in devices shipped in the coming months that will also include the Siri personal assistant, which performs many of the search functions of Google.

"Siri has been out only eight months," Forstall said.

"In these eight months Siri has been studying up and learning a lot more."

Another improvement to the iOS will be to incorporate Facebook within the operating system of Apple devices.

"We have been working very closely with Facebook to create the best Facebook experience ever on a mobile device, we are integrating it right into iOS 6," Forstall said.

Google last week unveiled a revamped maps program that allows mobile users to use the service without an Internet connection.

The service, which will be available soon on devices powered by Google's Android operating system, allows users to select an area and save a local map which can be viewed when a user does not have a data connection.

This can be useful for people traveling to international locations where they do not want to pay Internet roaming charges, or for situations when someone is underground or on a plane without data access.

Google also unveiled improvements to its Street View, with access to more areas where cars cannot go, and a more detailed three-dimensional Google Earth map that allows users to view as if they were flying over a location.

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