iOS 6 and Maps

iOS 6 has taken more of a backseat amidst the growing speculations about iPhone 5, as the days get closer to a rumored Sept. 12th launch. Although Apple is yet to give out a release date for this new version, “this fall” is an indicator that iOS 6 will be completely clouded under its hardware counterpart, the iPhone. I must admit I’m as excited about its launch as I was about iOS 4 which came with the first of the multitasking capabilities. And the primary reason for the excitement – The Maps .

Although I’m equally skeptical about how much of a success it can turn out to be, simply due to the fact that through maps Apple has directly opened a battle with Google and for the first time, starting from behind. But the fact that Apple now owns “maps.apple.com”, which currently redirects to the iOS 6 page for maps, is a positive start.

I’ve been (and I’m sure the rest of the world as well) a regular visitor to Google Maps for directions. Google and its well established repository of wealthy data has helped maps to evolve rather quickly to become a common household name, ousting Yahoo Maps from the top. And ever since the launch of iOS, the fact that google maps did not feature a turn-by-turn navigation, as a direct replacement for a physical GPS (such as TomTom) was a major disappointment, esp. since it was pitched as a major feature in Android. The result was, iPhone users, who decided not to jail break their phones had to be content with a $50 TomTom application.

I should however say that over the last 2 years, TomTom app on my iPhone has been a terrific travel companion. Its free map updates and the user-friendly UI is a class apart from the google maps on Android, which to me seems like a UI cluttered with data.

A lot remains to be seen on how good the Apple maps will turn out to be. Apple certainly has jumped into the race very late. Only time will tell if it can actually pick up and boost ahead. For now, I’m still happy with my TomTom Application to navigate my ways.

Apple App Store App of the week:

For long I’ve had this problem of choosing a restaurant. A simple google search or Yelp, has helped me to a certain extent, but never in its entirety, simply because they were not inherently meant for restaurant alone. Along came Zagat with an app. Zagat, with its wonderful pedigree of rating just restaurants with user generated content has found immense success. Their ratings are elaborate and distinct.

If not for Zagat (the app in particular, just for its easiness to use), I wouldn’t have chanced upon White Dog Cafe a quaint little place up in Wayne, PA.

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Touch Screen walls

It’s not often that I’ve seen myself “WOWed” by a product or technology. I must admit, the last time it happened was while watching the launch of iPhone! But UBI Interactive has truly blown me away with what I just saw.

Completely unbiased by the fact that the founder and CEO of this startup was a classmate of mine back in college, the product and its potential is quite commendable. With a Microsoft Kinect and a “household” projector attached to a laptop running the ubi application, this can perhaps change the world in a lot of different ways!

Take a look at this video on what it can turn out to be …

übi interactive | Interactive Information Display enabled by übi [26.01.2012] from ubi interactive on Vimeo.

And it truly works, quite unlike its “conceptual” predecessors! Here is an actual demo!

This product has brought out the true essence of “Surface”!

Aakash 2 – the world’s cheapest tablet

It was touted as an “iPad” challenger in India, simply due to its pricing at around $35. Aakash simply was not able to keep up with its initial hype received at its launch in 2007.

While there are several theories debated amongst the elite politicians and technologists in India and outside, including questions raised on India’s innovation capabilities, the Canadian based company, DataWind , which has invested heavily on this product, has already announced the launch of part 2, in this saga – The Aakash 2 . Expected to have double the specifications of its predecessor, the manufacturing of this product is set to start in August.

With the failure of this Android-based version 1 mainly attributed to the lack of planning and management of the supply and demand and the amazingly high percentage of failures on the few that actually made it out to the consumers hands, I guess I will just sit back and watch where the version 2 takes us, before actually getting overly excited about it.

Think Geek item of the week

For a person such as me, who just moved into a new apartment and who just manages to wake up and run to office in the morning, a 3 in 1 breakfast station such as this will be just ideal!

These wise men from the mountains say, “The world is shrinking… you may have heard the adage”. So then why not have an appliance as big as a toaster to do something way more than just toast!

Era of the solar panels, Surface and Angry Birds

Take 1:

I was particularly impressed back when thinkgeek listed a Solar Charger for all mobile devices (except of course the laptops). And I thought to myself, there is so much real estate in any mobile device that perhaps one day someone would think about replacing it with renewable sources of energy. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to see this article from Engadget on smart panel research done by Apple and Microsoft and the subsequent patent filed. Section 0031 under this patent talks about auxilliary sources of power using solar panels laid across the cover attachments.

Offbeat: It might just be worth taking a look at this ground breaking datacenter that Apple is setting up at North Carolina. Solar farm as Wired calls it, the solar grid is breathtakingly impressive.

Take 2:

The news of the patent took me to a territory which I typically tend to avoid – The Microsoft Surface! I had been slightly skeptical since the concept was first put out to public back in 2007 . But 4 years later, I must admit the tablet version that has evolved from an overhyped kiosk is actually not-so-bad! The zune-like backstand with an Apple like cover did initially put me off. However the fact that they have a keyboard and trackpad on the cover and have packaged it along with the tablet as such, rather than as an add-on accessory is actually ingenious! Kudos to Microsoft. Finally I do see a good enough competitor to iPads. Android based tablets never attracted me as much as this.

Take 3:

Gone are the days of G.I.JOE Toys ! Angry brids have taken over! Wall Street Journal reports on how plush toys are being rescued by angry birds . There was a time when video games were influenced by toys and comic books. The trend seems to have take a 360 degree turn!