Google Maps app rockets up on iTunes store list

Updated 14 December 2012
0

Google Maps app rockets up on iTunes store list

SAN FRANCISCO: Google Maps have found their way back to the iPhone, and the new alternative was already the top-ranking free app in Apple’s iTunes store Thursday.
The world’s most popular online mapping system returned late Wednesday with the release of the Google Maps’ iPhone app. The release comes nearly three months after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps as the device’s built-in navigation system and inserted its own maps into the latest version of its mobile operating system.
By noon Thursday in the US, users had chimed in with more than 10,000 reviews of the Google app. Nearly 90 percent gave Google maps a five-star rating — the highest possible grade. Despite the quickly rising popularity, Google’s solution still wasn’t listed among the 18 recommended mapping apps in iTunes as of early Thursday afternoon.
Apple declined to comment about Google’s map app, but it approved the technology before its release.
Apple’s maps application proved to be far inferior to Google’s, turning what was supposed to be a setback for Google into a vindication.
The product’s shoddiness prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a rare public apology and recommend that iPhone owners consider using Google maps through a mobile Web browser or seek other alternatives until his company could fix the problems. Cook also replaced the executive in charge of Apple’s mobile operating system after the company’s maps became a subject of widespread ridicule.
Among other things, Apple’s maps misplaced landmarks, overlooked towns and sometimes got people horribly lost. In a particularly egregious example flagged this week, Australian police derided Apple’s maps as “life-threatening” because the system was steering people looking for the city of Mildura into a sweltering, remote desert 44 miles (71 kilometers) from the desired destination. Google Inc., by contrast, is hailing its new iPhone app as a major improvement from the one evicted by Apple. “We started from scratch,” said Daniel Graf, mobile director of Google Maps. Google engineers started working on the new app before Apple’s Sept. 19 ouster, Graf said, though he declined to be more specific.
The additional tools in the free iPhone mapping app include turn-by-turn directions. Google’s previous refusal to include that popular feature on the iPhone app — while making it available for smartphones running on its own Android software — is believed to be one of the reasons Apple decided to develop its own technology. The friction that has developed between Google and Apple as they jostle for leadership in the increasingly important smartphone market also played a role in the mapping switch.
Google’s new iPhone mapping app also will offer its street-level photography of local neighborhoods for the first time on Apple’s mobile operating system, as well as three-dimensional views, public transit directions and listings for more than 80 million businesses around the world. The iPhone app still lacks some of the mapping features available on Android-powered phones, such as directions in malls and other buildings.



There still isn’t a Google mapping app for Apple’s top-selling tablet computer, the iPad, but the company plans to make one eventually. Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, declined to say when it hopes to release an iPad mapping app.

For now, iPad owners can use the maps in an iPhone mode. That won’t be the best experience, but it still may be better than Apple’s maps on the iPad.
The return of Google’s map app may even encourage more iPhone owners to upgrade to Apple’s latest mobile software, iOS 6. Some people resisted the new version because they didn’t want to lose access to the old Google mapping application built into iOS 5 and earlier versions.
Graf said Google isn’t hoping to make Apple look bad with its new mapping app. “On maps, we have a friendly relationship,” he said.


Review: A political artist talks humanity, refugees and mass migration

Updated 22 April 2018
0

Review: A political artist talks humanity, refugees and mass migration

BEIRUT: This precious blue book is a compilation of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on the global refugee crisis, edited by prominent American collector and publisher Larry Warsh. “Humanity” is full of important messages that can be delivered at any time, hence the handy, bag-friendly size.
The quotations, selected from interviews, magazine features and podcasts from around the world, show Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on humanity, mass migration and refugees.
According to his interview excerpts, the artist believes we have lost the capacity for compassion.
“The refugee crisis is not about refugees, rather, it is about us. Our prioritization of financial gain over people’s struggle for the necessities of life is the primary cause of much of this crisis. The West has all but abandoned its belief in humanity and support for the precious ideals contained in declarations on universal human rights, it has sacrificed these ideals for short-sighted cowardice and greed,” he once said.
Ai Weiwei understands how it feels to be completely destitute in a foreign land, with nothing but one’s humanity. In 1959, during the Cultural Revolution, he accompanied his father to a labor camp in the Gobi Desert. When he returned to Beijing with his parents in 1975, he was 19 and determined to fight against injustice. Not afraid to criticize the Chinese authorities, he became an outspoken artist-cum-activist. He is now considered one of the most iconic artists of our times. He was detained in 2011 at Beijing airport, remained in custody for 81 days and was subsequently placed under house arrest. His passport was taken away and returned in 2015. That same year, Amnesty International awarded Ai Weiwei the Ambassador of Conscience Award for his work in defense of human rights and he relocated to Berlin.
Each quote in this book pricks our conscience, makes us feel uncomfortable, and reminds us that our indifference and and lack of action toward other human beings is inhuman.
For example, in the book, the artist is quoted as saying: “Allowing borders to determine your thinking is incompatible with the modern era.”
A powerful statement that is one of many to be found in this thought-provoking read.