Apple Focused On Boosting Location And Navigation Services

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In the wake of the criticism faced by Apple Inc. for its below par location and navigation services on the iOS 6, the popular consumer electronics manufacturer is pulling out all the stops to ensure that such eventualities won’t arise when its operating system in its latest iteration (iOS 7) is made available this fall. This past week, Apple acquired two online mapping services – Locationary and HopStop.

The mapping service on iOS 6 didn’t meet expectations as many users were left with wrong directions and misplaced landmarks. Users were left with no option but to rely on Google’s mapping apps for the iPhone and iPad. These apps quickly went on to become some of the highest grossing apps at Apple’s very own App Store.

Last week’s  acquisitions were made to give a much needed boost to Apple’s own mapping app – Apple Maps 2.0 (expected this fall along with iOS 7) so that it could pose as an alternative to the now default choice – Google Maps.

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Apple Maps.

Officials at Apple Inc. did not hail this move with much fanfare by stating that,

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans, company spokesperson, Kristin Huguet.

A Look at the Acquisitions

Toronto based Locationary collects and analyses data to help create more accurate maps. It is a user edited database of popular restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, etc. there-by focussing on business location maps. Locationary will also allow Apple Maps 2.0 users to gain access to detailed and comprehensive information on surrounding hotspots of interest. It specializes in geo-location and discerning the nature of the particular hotspot in question. Whether it is a fast food joint, restaurant, hotel, bar and the like.

HopSpot, on the other hand is a New York based enterprise that is more of a transit based app that provides detailed information about various subways, buses, trains, taxis, walking and even biking directions. It also features real-time transit information via the HopStop Live service.

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Hopstop on the iPad

The HopStop service has been made available in more than 600 cities throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, also including 140 major metropolitan areas. HopStop is a highly recommended app in replacement to Apple Maps and is the 7th highest grossing free navigation app at the App Store.

As per the Company’s website, HopStop allows you to:

• Get directions or find nearby subway stations and bus stops with our free mobile apps
• Send directions by email directly from our website
• Plan a trip with multiple destinations
• Estimate travel time and cost for a taxi
• Get estimates for calories burned and carbon emissions savings for your route
• Find wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly routes
• Check out Real-Time Alerts and Planned Service Changes
• See Transit Maps and Schedules
• Do Nearby Station searches

Apple’s officials have remained tight lipped on the terms of these acquisitions but at the moment these moves by Apple seem to be attempts at addressing the issues faced by users and provide them with hassle free navigation solutions.

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Microsoft Beats Apple And Google – Buys R2 Studios

Image Credit : Microsoft

Credit : Microsoft

Microsoft has taken a crucial step forward in taking its Xbox gaming platform to a new market audience – the home TV entertainment. The Wall Street Journal revealed that the software giant has bought rising home entertainment tech start-up R2 studios for an undisclosed amount. This is a big deal because Microsoft wasn’t the only big player in the race for R2 studios’ acquisition, the other contenders were – Apple and Google.

Its no secret that Microsoft wants the Xbox platform to be more than just another gaming console. They have made attempts to reach a wider audience by continuously working on iterations of the Xbox platform. Off late with each new update users are greeted with some form of home entertainment on Xbox and that’s why this acquisition is so important for them to make inroads into the home entertainment industry.

R2 studios was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Blake Krikorian in mid 2011. Blake is the same bloke who co-founded Sling Media the company which is famous for Slignbox – a product which allowed its users to enjoy television on their computers. R2 studios has been making waves off late, they recently launched an Android app that lets users control home lighting and heating systems from their smartphones. Microsoft also bought some patents owned by the company which are related to controlling electronic devices.

So now when you buy an Xbox, these are the things you can look forward to –

  • Playing great games, which remains the USP of the platform.
  • Utilizing Microsoft’s revolutionary motion-controller – Kinect, which allows gamers the ability to use gestures to play games.
  • Using voice commands for achieving a lot of tasks on the Xbox which includes making Bing searches.
  • Watching great TV without using your set top boxes courtesy the Xbox platform and R2 studios.
Xbox is more than just a game console now. It's home entertainment delivered in HD.

Xbox is more than just a game console now. It’s home entertainment delivered in HD.

The acquisition further strengthens Microsoft’s unrelenting pursuit for dominance in the entertainment industry as a whole, they want us to play games, watch TV and do all that without moving our backsides off the couch (read voice commands) using Microsoft’s services, and their efforts are certainly starting to pay off – Xbox now looks and feels more like a home-entertainment system then just another game console.

One wonders what Apple and Google were thinking trying to get hold of a start-up that brings home entertainment to computers. We know Apple’s experiments with Siri and Google’s with GlassesLet’s wait and see what the other two industry leaders have in store for us, for now we can be rest assured R2 studios went to the company most likely to extract benefits out of it.