How Google’s new Maps for Apple Watch stacks up to Apple’s native app

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Google finally made a Maps app for Apple Watch, but it’s pretty lackluster, especially compared to Apple’s native Maps app for the watch.

I was waiting for Google Maps to arrive on my wrist for easily accessible public transit directions, but iOS 9 and watchOS 2 put Apple’s own transit directions on the watch. Now, comparing Google’s new Maps offering to Apple’s, it’s obvious Google didn’t put a whole lot of work into its watch app.

google maps apple watchGoogle

If you launch the app on the watch first, it’ll give you a quick option to route your way home or to work, if you have those destinations stored in the iPhone version of the app. If you map a route on your phone, you can view directions on your watch. There are no actual maps to see in this Maps app, though, unlike Apple’s native Maps app.

You also can’t start searches on the watch using voice search, like with Apple Maps, and Google’s app doesn’t yet make use of haptic feedback to guide you with various vibrations, like Apple’s does.

Google wants to show support for iOS, which is great news for iOS users who love Google’s apps, but it’s not developing anything amazing—and that’s a recurring theme. A news and weather app and a mapping app are both perfect use cases for the watch, and yet Google News & Weather and Google Maps are both completely lackluster. They get the job done, but there are plenty of other options that are just plain better. Apple can finally claim mapping dominance—on one device, at least.

Apple Watch Hermès now on sale in 10 different styles

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You can now go out and buy an Apple Watch Hermès, but you might want to bring your French dictionary.

First announced in September during Apple’s big iPhone 6s event, theApple Watch Hermès collection is available now, but only in select Apple Stores and Hermès store locations in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto, as well as in several cities in Europe and Asia.

The special Hermès-branded stainless steel Watch comes in three styles and five fancy French colors, which you can combine to get ten different looks. The price of an Apple Watch Hermès ranges from $1,100 to $1,500, depending on the size of the case and the style of the band.

apple watch hermes collectionApple

The Apple Watch Hermès comes in three leather band designs: Double Tour (wraps twice around the wrist), Single Tour (“the buckle recalls those on the straps of a horse’s girth”), and the bulkier Cuff (also “inspired by equestrian fixtures”).

The 38mm Double Tour comes in four colors: Fauve (brown), Étain (grey), Capucine (light brown) and Bleu Jean (blue).

apple watch hermes double tourApple

The 38mm Single Tour is available in Fauve, Capucine, and Noir (black), while the 42mm Single Tour comes only in Fauve and Noir.

apple watch hermes single tourApple

The Cuff design is only available in 42mm with a Fauve strap, and it’s the most expensive choice at $1,500.

apple watch hermes cuffApple

All of the Apple Watches from the Hermès collection have special new clock faces designed by the luxury fashion brand, as well as the Hermès logo stamped on the back.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple and Hermès began collaborating on this luxury watch collection even before the Apple Watch was announced. It’s also interesting to note that the Apple Watch Hermès collection is the first time Apple has included so much branding from another company in one of its products.

Apple Pay 1 year in: Slow to grow, but ‘off to a great start,’ Apple says

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Tech companies have been trying to make mobile payments happen for years, and when Apple entered the space last October with Apple Pay, it seemed like paying for things with your phone might actually become a daily occurrence.

But Apple Pay adoption is still slow going a year after its launch, according to new reports. The service is barely a blip on the retail radar, accounting for about 1 percent of total transactions in the U.S., according to research firm Aite Group.

The Wall Street Journal dug up numbers from various retail chains and analysts that seem to back up that figure: At Panera, Apple Pay usage is in the “low single digits,” while Firehouse Subs says the service accounts for 2 percent of all transactions. (Panera did say that Apple Pay comprises 20 percent of sales in its iOS app, which lets customers order ahead.) Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said 75 percent of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners hadn’t even used Apple Pay, but that survey was done in April, just six months after the service launched.

The story behind the story: It’s clear that Apple Pay isn’t yet changing the landscape of mobile payments, but there are several other factors at play: The company has spent the last year nailing down agreements, both with retail chains and with various financial institutions to support cards from huge credit card companies and small regional credit unions. That’s an ongoing process. Apple just recently began expanding the service internationally, starting in Britain.

square reader transactionSquare
Square’s new Apple Pay-compatible reader will help small businesses accept mobile payments.

How Apple Pay can succeed

Apple also just widened the base of people who can even use Apple Pay with the release of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The company sold 13 million new phones over the launch weekend and countless more in the week since, so there are now millions more potential Apple Pay users. Now Apple has to educate them on what Apple Pay is and how it works, which has been one of the major hurdles preventing Apple Pay from taking off.

“People don’t know why it is they’d use Apple Pay,” Jared Schrieber, CEO of research firm InfoScout, told the WSJ. “They are satisfied with the current methods and they don’t know how Apple Pay works.”

Samsung and Google are also making a big play in mobile transactions with their Apple Pay rivals, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. The rising tide of payment options could lift all boats in this situation, especially as retailers finally have to install payment terminals that work with chip cards. Those terminals come with Near-Field Communication technology as a standard. And to help mom-and-pop shops get on board, Apple partnered with Square this summer on a new reader that will help small businesses accept mobile payments without spending a fortune to upgrade their payment systems. With iOS 9, Apple Pay now supports store loyalty cards and rewards programs, a feature many had been requesting.

It could take years for phones to replace wallets, but Apple is committed to making it happen.

“We’re off to a great start and we are seeing continued, double-digit monthly growth in Apple Pay transactions since launch,” the company told the WSJ.

Apple TV aims open its universal search to all apps

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When the new Apple TV launches later this month, its universal search features will only work with a select number of apps. But it’s not going to stay that way forever.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told BuzzFeed that Apple plans to offer an API for universal search, so that any app can feed into the results. “I think that many, many people will want to be in that search. And that’s great for users,” Cook said.

At launch, Siri’s search results will come from five streaming services: iTunes, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and Showtime. That’s a fairly short list, and one that leaves out some major sources such as YouTube, Crackle, Watch ABC, and PBS.

By comparison, Google already offers an open API for search results on its Android TV platform, and it’s likely that Amazon will do the same with Alexa voice search on Fire TV devices (though it’s worth noting that neither of those platforms currently include Netflix in their searches). Roku’s system is a bit more closed down, but supports roughly 20 streaming services with its universal search features.

Cook said the search results will highlight which services are free, or available with an existing subscription that the user already has, though it’s unclear if Apple will denote ad-supported content. Cook also didn’t give a timeframe for releasing the universal search API.

Why this matters: Siri and voice search are key features in the new Apple TV, which has a microphone built into its remote control. But while Siri looks to be more powerful than voice search on other platforms, its usefulness will remain limited until more apps can participate. If Cook is talking about an open API already, hopefully that means developers won’t have to wait too long.

Apple Releases 6 New 15 Second Apple Watch Adverts

Apple Watch

Apple has this week released six new 15 second adverts to promote the ‘fun side’ of its new Apple Watch, following on from the recent launch of a major update to the AppleWatch operating system in the form of WatchOS 2.0.

The new range of advertising for the Apple Watch moves away from the cinematic themes and provides a more visual style, reminiscent of the iconic silhouette iPod commercials.

 

After a slight delay the latest operating system update has now been rolled out for Apple Watch users in the form of watchOS 2.0. Features of the new wearable operating system include new watch faces and also some third party app connections and enhancements for Digital Touch, Mail and Friends.

The watchOS 2.0 update now enables applications to run natively on the wrist worn Apple Watch, allowing developers to create more functions for their apps, enabling them to run without the need to connect to your iPhone.

Apple Makes iOS 9 App Slicing Feature Available For Developers

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We heard recently that Apple had disabled the app slicing feature for developers in iOS 9, this had been done to a bug related to the feature.

App slicing allows developers to created apps that used less storage depending on which device they are installed on and now Apple has re-enabled the feature.

Apple has now confirmed to developers that they can once again start using the app slicing feature for their apps in iOS 9, the feature is available to iOS 9.0.2 and above.

The issue affecting app slicing has been fixed, and device-specific versions of apps will be delivered when downloaded by users running iOS 9.0.2 or later.

Apple has introduced the app slicing feature in order to free up space in peoples devices, this means than rather than downloading an app that would run on all devices, you only download the parts of the app that are needed to run on your device.

iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus India Launch Price Information

Apple distributor Ingram Micro has informed its retail price partners about the launch price of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in India. According to the communication – a copy of which has been seen by Gadgets 360 – the iPhone 6s will start at Rs. 62,000 for the 16GB variant. The iPhone 6s Plus will start at Rs. 72,000 for the same storage capacity.

The 64GB and 128GB variant of the iPhone 6s will be priced at Rs. 72,000 and Rs. 82,000 respectively, while the iPhone 6s Plus will cost Rs. 82,000 and Rs. 92,000 for the same storage capacities.

The communication also confirms the repricing of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 5s that Gadgets 360 had exclusively reported last month. To recall, the iPhone 6 is now priced at Rs. 52,000 for the 16GB model and Rs. 62,000 for the 64GB variant. The iPhone 6 Plus is now priced in India at Rs. 62,000 and Rs. 72,000 for 16GB and 64GB models respectively. The older iPhone 5s now starts at Rs. 35,000 for the 16GB variant, with the 32GB model now priced at Rs. 40,000. Of course these are all MRPs, and the effective market price online as well as offline is actually lower.

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus come in four colours: Silver, Gold, Space Grey, and a new Rose Gold Aluminium finish. The phones will go on sale in India on Friday, October 16. The phones saw record 13 million sales and pre-orders during the opening weekend.

What do you think of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launch price in India? Let us know by voting in the poll and via the comments.

Apple Buys Perceptio, An AI Startup For Smartphones

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Apple has acquired another company, the latest one is company called Perceptio, a startup that is developing artificial intelligence systems for smartphones.

Perceptio has been developing a new AI system for smartphones that does not share its user data, this fits in with Apple’s current stance on user privacy and could be one of the reasons for the acquisition.

Apple has confirmed that they have purchased Perceptio, although they did not share any details on what plans they have for the company, instead they gave their usual statement, which you can see below.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Colin Johnson, a company spokesman.

As soon as we get some more information on exactly what Apple has planned for Perceptio and the technology they have acquired, we will let you guys know.

Apple Acquires Speech Recognition Startup VocalIQ

Apple has acquired VocalIQ, a UK-based startup that builds speech processing technology to enable more human-like and natural communication between machines and people. Apple is likely to utilise VocalIQ’s expertise to improve its virtual assistant Siri.

VocalIQ uses machine learning technology to make self-learning virtual assistants that would be able to understand natural human conversations as we have seen in sci-fi movies – Jarvis in Iron Man, and Samantha in Her being the most notable examples. Interestingly, VocalIQ’s technology could also be used in wearable devices and to make in-car applications.

Earlier this year, VocalIQ had pointed out the benefits of having a conversational voice-dialogue system in a car, and how the existing technologies don’t offer a way for drivers to navigate the real-time traffic data. “A conversational voice-dialogue system that is able to use contextual information to initiate a sensible dialogue with a human by which the human in question is able to query the various options conveniently and accurately will not only result in millions of runners coming home dry but also ensuring that a billion drivers get to their destination much quicker and safer with minimal driver distraction.”

The startup recognises the growing space for the voice user experience, but also noted shortcomings in them, calling Google’s and Apple’s approach “medieval”. “All major technology companies are pouring billions into building up of services like Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa. Each was launched with a huge bang, promising great things but fell well short of consumer expectations. Some ended being used only as toys, like Siri. The rest, forgotten. Unsurprisingly.”

The acquisition of VocalIQ was first reported by the Financial Times, which received Apple’s usual terse confirmation of the buyout, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple Buys Mapping Company Mapsense For Apple Maps

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Apple has been working on their Apple Maps software and has already made a couple of acquisitions related to Apple Maps and now it looks like they hare purchased another company, Mapsense.

Mapsense is mapping company that builds tools for analyzing and visualizing location data and Apple has apparently paid between $25 and $25 million for Mapsense.

When asked about the acquisition, Apple gave their standard response which you can see below.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said in a statement.

Mapsense started in 2013 and there is a team of 12 people, including the company’s founder, Erez Cohen who will now join Apple. It is not clear as yet on exactly what the Mapsense technology will be used for, as soon as we get some more details, we will let you guys know.