Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Apple Maps usage rises as Google Maps drops sharply

Last year, when Apple replaced the Google Maps application on iOS with their own Apple Maps, the company was blasted by everyone, including Apple fans, to the point where Apple had to issue an apology to customers and highlight other mapping apps in the App Store. A year later, however, things are looking a bit better.

Over the past year, Apple Maps usage has increased sharply whereas Google Maps has seen a corresponding drop, according to a survey by comScore. Apple Maps now has 35 million users to its credit in the US. Google Maps, on the other hand, has dropped down to 58.7 million, which includes both iOS as well as Android users. Compare this to 81 million users that Google Maps had last year and you can see that it has dropped by a significant 22.3 million in just a span of a year.
Out of the 58.7 million Google Maps users, only 6 million iOS users downloaded the app from the App Store and out of those 6 million are 2 million who cannot or have not yet updated to iOS 6 or above (so they can’t use Apple Maps).
There could be various factors responsible for this. First of all, built-in apps trump downloadable apps any day as far as usage is considered. Most people just use the apps that come pre-installed with their devices and third party apps that replicate that functionality can’t compete with that unless they offer a service not available by default on the device.
Secondly, Apple Maps has improved over the last year, as reported by several users. It’s still nowhere near as good as Google’s app, which has had several years of head start, but is slowly getting there. With more people using it, the service can improve faster through more user submitted data.
With Apple Maps now also available on Macs through Mavericks, you can expect a further bump in usage and higher user base a year later.

Sony Xperia Z1S shows up briefly on Sony's site

The Sony Xperia Z1S, aka Xperia Z1 mini, leaks started as soon as it became clear that the Xperia Z1 f will be exclusive to Japan. Now the Xperia Z1S has cropped up on an official Sony site in another country, which lends support to the rumors of an international launch (note that the page has since been taken down).

Unfortunately, that country is China and plenty of makers (Sony included) have phones exclusive to China, so this isn't a strong confirmation of a global launch. Still, we won't have to torture ourselves with a long will-they-won't-they as rumors indicate that the Sony Xperia Z1S will be unveiled on November 12 in Shanghai (that's tomorrow!).
Note that the S in Xperia Z1S is officially styled as superscript, but we'll skip that in the interest of readability.
A quick refresher for those who haven’t been following the rumor mill, the Xperia Z1S is rumored to have a compact 4.3" 720p screen and the full set of specs that made the Xperia Z1 so good – a 20.7MP 1/2.3" sensor, a Snapdragon 800 chipset and an IP58 rating. This would make it the first proper flagship mini, something the HTC One mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 mini failed to achieve.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Apple iPad mini with Retina goes on sale

The Apple iPad mini 2, which flaunts a spanking new 324 ppi Retina display has gone on sale across Apple's online stores.
The device comes in Space Gray and Silver and is available from 16 GB through to 128 GB versions in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular flavors. The slate ships in 1 to 3 business days for the 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi models and 5 to 10 business days for the rest of the line.

Apple iPad 2 in the US and German stores
As is usually the case with electronics the slate is more expensive in Europe, Japan and elsewhere compared to in the US and by a lot.
Here's what the prices converted from local currency to US dollars look like. In Japan the only available Wi-Fi version costs around $422, compared to the $399 in the US store. Germany, Netherlands and Italy have the slate for the equivalent of around $522 for the Wi-Fi iPad mini 2 and $682 for the Cellular one compared to $399/$529 in the US. France seems to get it the worst with a pricing of $536/$695 respectively. All above-mentioned prices are for the 16 GB version of the iPad mini 2.