Alternatives to iOS 6 maps


Are you one of those unfortunate ones who is cursing Apple after updating your iPhone/iPad to iOS 6 ?

The much awaited iOS 6 update didn’t keep up to the expectation in promising a revolutionary replacement to Google Maps.
The new features which are announced are available only in selected countries. Also users have already reported map discrepancies. For users based in India it’s a different story altogether. Apple has failed to give even a basic mapping solution. The map data seems to be accurate on first look. But basic functionalities like routes and directions are missing as of now. What is frustrating is the basic features available in earlier Google supported map solution is not available for India users.
The situation will improve, but may take a while for India.
Need not worry , listed below are 3 alternatives which can fill the gap without any issues. The first two are not standalone apps, but rather web-based.

Follow the below steps to add app short cuts for Web App to your home screen.

  • Open the respective web URL in Safari.
  • Once the page loads, click on the arrow icon on the left side of the URL field.
  • Select ” Add to Home screen”. An icon will be placed on your Home screen after this step.
  • Allow permission to use your location by accepting the pop up that is displayed.



Google

 

Nokia

 

Navfree

 

App/Web App?

 

Web App

 

Web App

 

App

 

URL

 

maps.google.co.in

 

m.maps.nokia.com

 

 

Traffice Info

 

Y

 

Y

 

Y

 

Route/Directions

 

Y

 

Y

 

Y

 

Voice Based Navigation

 

N

 

Y

 

Y

 

Offline Mode

 

N

 

N

 

Y

 


There are other solutions available for eg Waze. Try out and adopt which caters to your needs.
It needs to be seen how Apple is going to regain the confidence of the users who have already started switching to other map solutions.

 


Windows 8 – another Vista?


Windows 8 Start Screen

Windows 8 Start Screen

I couldn’t find a better title for this post as that’s the comparison Windows 8 is receiving after its introduction by Microsoft.

So will it be another Vista?

It’s a fact that Vista was a failure – but mainly due to its notorious support for hardware drivers. Users had issues with the existing drivers and devices they had, on Windows Vista, leading to frustration due to their devices not supported on the new OS at that time. The new kind of UI that was introduced doesn’t seems to be of an issue. If that was case then Windows 7 could be marked as a failure.

The timing of Windows 8 also is in favour. Its launch coincides with the majority of Windows XP users who are without any active support from Microsoft, Third parties and Device manufactures.

Whether that’s the case with Windows 8?

Certainly not. I have been using Windows 8 RC and then Enterprise Version in the past two months. Installation of both the Releases on my Desktop which houses a 4-year-old Motherboard and Intel Core 2 Duo was pretty smooth barring the head ache of getting my existing Programs and Settings from old Windows XP.

All the hardware worked out of the box

  • Device ListExisting on-board Sound and Video chips
  • A not so well-known FireWire PCI card
  • Benq LCD monitor
  • Canon Pixma Wi-Fi Printer
  • A not so well-known 3-year-old web-cam, which worked after loading the Drivers that came with the product

I would say the hardware integration including your networked devices is pretty good in this Version. Your networked Blu-ray Players, Media Players, TV etc. can be brought into your Desktop environment without any additional efforts. Sharing Media across the devices is easy.

So my experience on that front as captured above rules out that Windows 8 will be another Vista (from my view-point).

So what else, as per the analysts will make Windows 8 a failure?

UI !!! – This is the major culprit as per them.

I’m bored with the existing UI I find in earlier Windows versions and other OS that exist today. The same icons, bordered windows. The restriction of your programs with in a specific area on your screen space etc. We started with plain flat icons, over a period of time we moved to colourful three-dimensional ones. But the underlying interface by which you interacted with your OS remained the same. Main menu to Sub Menu…Icons… Dialog boxes…Windows…

Windows Phone Metro UI was a treat. I don’t own a Windows Phone 7 device. But based on my interaction with my friend’s devices and that at show rooms, I can say it’s refreshing. You move away from your legacy UI to more Dynamic UI where information or Alerts are presented on tiles. Each application or alert occupies its own space without any clutter. Your current application occupies the entire screen space, no restriction or borders of any nature. Microsoft is finally embracing Cloud and Social Networking. The integration with the OS is flawless. You don’t need to visit multiple apps to see you social updates.

So what’s the issue in migrating the same UI to desktop??

“I don’t have my Start button” “Windows 8 have dual character – Windows 8 UI and the legacy Desktop”

See Also : How to add a Start Menu without any third-party add-ons in Windows 8

The complaints contradict each other. You hate the Windows 8 UI but on top you complain it still has the Desktop environment.

“I miss the Start button” “Navigation is painful” “No clue how to switch between open applications” “How do I shut down my Desktop?” “UI works best on touch enabled devices

Let’s rewind. DOS to Windows 3.1, Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Did we (applicable only for those who have used these versions ) completely boycott these versions? Let History answer that.

Microsoft is readying Windows for the new touch enabled devices that are launching in coming years. Change always is painful and frustrating. But change is inevitable in moving forward and embracing the new. Apple said we will not support Flash, we made noise, competitors advertised, with Flash support their devices have an edge on Apple’s. But, where are we now? Adobe itself have decided no more mobile flash releases. All major vendors and mobile OS now are moving to HTML5. Will we stop there? No. Something more appealing and innovative will come and we will move to that.

For those complain about missing ‘Start button’ and ‘confusing navigation’

I’ll take the “adaptability” behaviour of human beings to counter that. We are better known for our adaptability. People have switched from Symbian OS to Android. Android to iOS. iOS to Android(inviting criticism ). Those who have done that switch knows that we struggled for the first 5 days or max 10 days in getting ourselves to adapt to the new environment. By this time frame we would have mastered all that is required to accomplish our day-to-day activities. Later, we stumble upon on few occasions when we use a new feature on the Device. But did we stopped there and dumped the new Device complaining about that? We have spent our hard money on that purchase. We moved on, until we find our next craze!! .

On usability of Windows 8 – My below 10-year-old kid uses the new Windows environment with as ease as Ubuntu …occasional Windows XP…. and iOS. Yes the kid didn’t have an easy time on first usage, but learned when I demonstrated.

Now let’s take two groups of users who may migrate to Windows 8

Existing Users

The numbers depend heavily on this category. Anybody on a Windows XP/Vista will definitely switch to Windows 8 without any complaints. Those who are on Windows 7 are the ones who think twice, but ultimately switch when the “use the latest” syndrome grows over them.

Users who are purchasing their next device – a Desktop or a Tablet or a Mobile

On multiple instances I have seen on show rooms people insisting on getting new Versions of Software on their Desktops or Laptops when they are making a purchase. They seems to be complaining or ignoring those which were shipping with an old version when a new version is already available or have announced. So with this mentality this category will definitely ask for Windows 8 to be available on their potential devices.

But how many of the customers opt for a new Desktop is a different question. As people are more inclined to go for a Laptop/netbook or a tablet now a days. The latter is the most preferred one. So when Windows 8 tablets launches that area is covered.

So Windows 8 will be a failure?

In my viewpoint and the facts that I have analysed it will not be a failure. People will adapt with their new OS.

  • The timing of Windows 8 also is in favour. Its launch coincides with the majority of Windows XP users who are without any active support from Microsoft, Third parties and Device manufactures.
  • The UI as such is ready for Touch enabled devices which will be the ones you see in future.
  • Also for the content consuming user base which are in majority. Windows 8 is covered well in those areas.
  • Enterprise users will go for it, as naturally all the new Desktops & Laptops will come pre-loaded with Windows 8. Integration into existing IT Infrastructure also favours them. But Enterprises don’t jump to a new Version as soon as it is launched, it takes almost near to a year when they migrate. Some may still stick to Windows 7 until it phases out.

Windows 8 if it fails it will not be because of the new UI, but it depends on the numbers that will sell.

So all those who are wasting their energy complaining about Windows 8 – options left are either switch to a Mac or be more productive and come together and a design a new OS itself. Ultimately, necessity or frustration is the trigger for innovation or invention.


Why no NFC in iPhone 5 ?


You might have seen this concern on numerous posts after the official launch of iPhone 5.

When we look at the bigger picture it’s “Passbook” that fits in perfectly. NFC is just ONE of the enablers for it. May be until Apple has an ecosystem like iTunes for mobile payments NFC will not come to Apple Mobile Devices.

What could be reason why Apple deferred this promising feature from their much awaited iPhone 5?
NFC is promising but how mature is it? Known adoption of this feature is very limited other that a few commercial outlets introducing their own application – like Starbucks.

Apple is famous for building ecosystems around their products. And I feel something similar is going to happen around this feature also. Take the case of the iTunes store. iPods could have ended up like any other music player. But it sustained and continued to sell because of the ecosystem. Regular updates to this product line happens only because the ecosystem which it is part of generates revenue when users purchase content. Upgrading existing headphones bundled with iPods & iPhones to Earpods, also, I feel is tied around this business pitch. So any product or feature build to a Product line continues to receive updates as long as it is tied to an ecosystem which justifies the upgrade.
So coming back to NFC. Apple will wait until it matures or until they invent an ecosystem which is linked to cash flow. They are already gearing up for this. The Passbook app could be the first step. This app has already started receiving support from consumer centric companies. While this app continues to rack up support from more, Apple will be parallelly developing an ecosystem. Once this ecosystem is ready, you will find NFC on Apple Devices and Passbook app with added support to NFC also. At that moment their non-NFC mobile models which support Passbook can still utilize this ecosystem as well as the new models with NFC.
So the decision to delay the addition of NFC could be
  • To avoid burdening the user with an increase in price or decrease in Apple’s margin by introduction of a feature that is not of much use.
  • NFC doesn’t justify until a cash generating ecosystem is in place.
We have seen in this industry, where companies overwhelm users by introducing new features which are hardly used or find any application in our day-to-day life. So let Apple or its competitors create something innovative which can see wide range application of at least one new tech that our phones boost off.