Maps Tip: Google Street View is back on iOS 6… in a way

Apple Maps for iOS 6 across 3 devicesIt is no secret that certain aspects of Google Maps have been missed in the new Maps in iOS 6. The most notably missed feature is the Google Street View, and of course, the accuracy and sheer functionality of Google Maps.

Sure, the new Maps app in iOS 6 had some great features as well. One of the most notably useful features not found in the previous Google Maps based solution was the turn by turn navigation found in the new Maps app. Apple tried to replace the Google Street View with the Fly Over effect.

While the Fly Over is certainly an eyeful for areas supported, its usefulness is nowhere near Google Street View. After all, the average Joe will need to view the location on the street level where they will be when they visit the location in question. They can’t really tell street level landmarks so high up in the sky. Fly Over is basically just eye candy.

Apple apologized about the lack of pure functionality in their Maps app. It still lacks a lot of data, misplaces a lot of locations, and labels landmarks incorrectly. Their navigation system is still a hit and miss, but at least it is there. For basic mapping solutions, in case you need to look up an address correctly, Apple’s Tim cook directs you to 3rd party solutions, even mentioning Google Maps.

Google Maps is not yet available as an app in the App store. It can only be accessed via Safari by going to maps.google.com. The mobile site works mostly like the desktop version of Google Maps, but it was missing one of the key features that navigators were looking for: Google Street View capabilities.

Thankfully, Google remedied that fairly quickly by launching an update to the mobile Google maps application by introducing Google Street View to the mobile code. Users can now look up many locations and view it on the street level.

The problem is, porting Street View to the mobile site is a monumental task. What Google has placed on the mobile version is what you can call a “lite version” of Google Street View. There were still many locations that were not included in the mobile version but available in the desktop version. It can also run a bit slow and does not have the same zoom level as the desktop version. Apple’s safari browser can only access this much, but it is still a very welcome improvement and a sigh of relief that Google is doing something about it.

Meanwhile, Apple is steadily working to try and figure out all the things wrong with their maps application. Word is that Apple is tasking their staff to locate and report inaccurate map data or map anomalies to the maps division. Since people are avoiding using the Apple maps application, they have to turn to their own resources to be able to gather mapping and location data for the improvement of their maps offering. If all goes well, Apple maps may yet take center stage.

Image sources: cnn.com, apple.com, digitaltrends.com

Google attacked for privacy concerns

Google is currently being attacked for privacy concerns due to the issue of gathering information to be used in their products. If anyone has been using Google maps in countries like the USA, you would notice that there is a “street view” option. This allows you to view in a 360 degree angle the area that you have searched. You are able to see a panoramic street view photograph of the area, allowing you to familiarize yourself with a location or route before you even visit it, a very useful tool for anyone planning to travel. I for one would love to have this for other countries as well. The recent attack, though, may just prevent this from ever happening.

During the time when Google Maps has scoured the streets to gather street view material, they have also gathered some public information from unprotected Wi-Fi access points that they have passed by during that long drive. This has been tagged by Australian Senator Stephen Conroy as the ‘single greatest privacy breech’ in the history of privacy.  This has later on been flagged as point of attack in a case against Google in Europe, which may further boil down in other countries. They want Google to stop doing what they were built to do; to stop gathering information.

Let’s face it. On a near daily basis, we use Google search. People use it for school, work, and even for personal reasons. We use a multitude of Google’s other services such as Gmail and Google Maps. Having a Google account has increasingly become more important if you own an Android handset.  That is because they have been successful in creating a search giant that people have grown incredibly attached to that provided them a very broad range of services with just one account. All of these are actually covered by a privacy policy that registered users must agree to and may review as necessary.

Yet, many people now cry “privacy”. If you want privacy, secure yourself. Don’t go on the internet. It is quite funny when people cry that they have been stalked, or they have been searched using Google after they publicly posted about their daily antics on the web using blogs, social networks and forums. People purposely share information to the public, then cry when the public sees it. Looking at it that way, you have caused your own problems. It’s Google’s job to prowl the net for public content and allow that content to be found using their search engine. Face it, there has come a time when you have used Google to find these publicly available content for your own purposes. They wouldn’t have been able to provide you that information if they did not prowl the web for you. Convenience like maps and street view can come at a cost of having to gather that information first before they can show it to you.

There are plenty of ways to secure the information that you don’t want other people to see or have. One way is to use secure transfers and locked access points. Put a password on those files. Everyone goes through the trouble of locking their house, their safe, and their drawers. People would lock their bags and seal envelopes when being shipped and delivered. Treat your information online as these day-to-day things. If you can go through the trouble of protecting your property, then surely you can extend that effort in you cyber properties as well. Privacy and security is everyone’s job and responsibility.

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