Apple Maps App Must be Overhauled. No Choice

Apple Maps redesign coming with iOS 12

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of July 2nd

The World Wide Web Has Failed Us

Wikipedia photo of Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee (Wikipedia)

• Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in the 1990s. But now, he’s not happy about the current state of the WWW. He’d like to fix the problem. It would be great if he succeeds. The odds are against him, but maybe with the kind of group support a worthy project can generate these days, his new project has a better chance.

For the backstory, see: “The web had failed instead of served humanity’: Tim Berners-Lee was crushed by Russia using Facebook to meddle in the US election.

The original, glorious source is at Vanity Fair: “‘I Was Devastated’: Tim Berners-Lee, The Man Who Created The World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets.” His new project is called “Solid.”

Berners-Lee has, for some time, been working on a new software, Solid, to reclaim the Web from corporations and return it to its democratic roots.

Remember that project name.

More Debris

• Author Lovejoy is, again, in lights here his week as he summarizes: “Net neutrality returning to California; new bills ‘strong and enforceable’.” His source is a statement from Scott Wiener who represents California’s Senate District 11.

Net neutrality isn’t dead so long as more than 20 states have filed lawsuits against the recent FCC (anti) net neutrality ruling. While the Congress may not be able to jointly pass a bill that would be signed by the president, the actions (and laws) of so many states seem to make it impractical for ISPs to fully exploit the new FCC rules for now.

• Microsoft continues to show signs of market savvy as it, according to Windows Central, plans to bring its Movies and TV app to iOS. MacRumors has the overview.

Will Apple think like this when it releases its own original TV content service?

CNET this week suggets that: “One of the 2018 iPhones will reportedly have 5 color options.” It’s short and sweet, but the source is analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, so there’s that. The sub-title notes: “But you’ll probably cover it with a case anyway.” My take is that iPhone customers think about color first and defer any thoughts about the case until later. Besides, there are lots of clear, polycarbonate cases that preserve the iPhone’s color. I’ve been using them myself for years.

• Finally, breakthroughs continue in the work towards quantum computers and communications. See: “Synthetic Diamonds Lead Princeton Team to Quantum Computing Breakthrough.

For decades, physicists, materials engineers, and others have been trying to achieve the conceptual promise of quantum-encrypted communications because the data transferred in that process is theoretically immune to covert surveillance. Any attempt to observe that data between parties — à la the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle — would fundamentally alter that information, quickly revealing that it was compromised. The problem has been storing and preserving qubits and then converting them to fiber optic-ready photons, and using diamonds appears to be the route toward achieving both.

But they needed a special kind of diamond and ended up synthesizing their own.
Pretty cool.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

8 thoughts on “Apple Maps App Must be Overhauled. No Choice

  • John:

    I fear that you may have buried the lede in this week’s PD (not that PD is designed to have a lede), as seemingly the most important story in your line up is that of Tim Berners-Lee and his quest to decentralise the Web via his new platform, Solid, and give users more control over both their privacy and data, rather than leave it to the discretion of information giants like FB, Google and Amazon.

    A few passages stand out from the Vanity Fair piece, among them this one:

    From the beginning, in fact, Berners-Lee understood how the epic power of the Web would radically transform governments, businesses, societies. He also envisioned that his invention could, in the wrong hands, become a destroyer of worlds, as Robert Oppenheimer once infamously observed of his own creation. His prophecy came to life, most recently, when revelations emerged that Russian hackers interfered with the 2016 presidential election, or when Facebook admitted it exposed data on more than 80 million users to a political research firm, Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump’s campaign. This episode was the latest in an increasingly chilling narrative. In 2012, Facebook conducted secret psychological experiments on nearly 700,000 users. Both Google and Amazon have filed patent applications for devices designed to listen for mood shifts and emotions in the human voice.

    Were I presenting this in an oral presentation, I would pause in particular to let the penultimate sentence in that paragraph sink in, ‘In 2012, Facebook conducted secret psychological experiments on nearly 700,000 users’. As a professional trained, licensed and regularly re-certified to both clinically treat and conduct trials on human subjects, of all of the abuses of their clients by these information giants, this one stands out as especially egregious, and technically may qualify as a crime against humanity in its wanton violation of internationally accepted standards for human subjects experimentation, and its sheer scope, irrespective of the outcome on those unwitting experimentees, who were never monitored nor for which FB to this day can account. Were I or any of my professional colleagues to have done similarly, even on an orders of magnitude lesser scale, we would have lost our university appointments, our medical licences and might still be serving some deserved prison time.

    That said, as I argued in Bryan Chaffin’s column the other day https://www.macobserver.com/analysis/california-privacy-bill/#comment-27173 we, as a global community, are culturally predisposed to powerful interests having domain over our personhood, be it access and control over our labour, property – including intellectual – resources, and information, specifically who owns it and who has access to it. In many societies, our personal data and even liberty are yielded with unquestioned acquiescence. Even in the West, with our supposed evolved sense of liberty and freedom, most of us do not question Google and FB’s asymmetrical terms of use for their ‘services’, and their perpetual and effectively unconstrained and unmonitored access to our personal information, even to the point of reading our email without consent and at their discretion https://www.macobserver.com/news/google-no-one-reading-your-email/#comment-27411.

    While the Vanity Fair article provides no real detail on Berners-Lee’s current project, or prognosis on the likelihood of its effectiveness or longterm survival in the wild, there are other issues that bear on our collective freedom, and even the health of our democracies, in those countries where the rule of law, as opposed to autocracy, defines governance. Among these is the information to which we are exposed or denied as news or facts. Current proposals about either vetting or scoring individuals stories are, in my opinion, not simply unworkable but entirely the wrong approach. An alternative approach, (an idea that I hope to pitch to the right responsible party), is to create a tiered ranking system of news sources, to which are further scored on empirical data regarding a track record for accuracy, transparency of methodology and staffing, accountability (history of correcting mistakes), among other factors, combined with what might be considered a barometer, that is a background realtime measure of the percentage of stories on any given topic that are considered reliable (or unreliable), not unlike a weather app display, as well the point of geographical origin for stories falling into each tier. This would allow consumers to decide for themselves how reliable or not a given story is based on documented source quality and background of false information on the topic. The focus is on reliable, sourced information, and not political slant. International refereeing, monitoring and auditing are involved. There’s more, but that’s the broad outline.

    The bottom line is that data security, specifically our privacy and personal data ownership, as well as the data to which we are presented (or denied) as valid information or facts, pose existential threats to both our personal security and the health and security of our societies. Political leaders, notably legislators and executives appear largely unable, and in some cases, unwilling to put protections in place. The private sector, at multiple levels, appear to be responding, but with uncertain commitment, purpose and effectiveness. The question of compliance by major stakeholders, such as the information giants and media outlets, remains unanswered, and is likely to be sub-optimal in the current atmosphere of self-policing, and continued absence of legal constraint and enforceable oversight.

  • Apple Maps is fine, not great, but fine. I use it exclusively and certainly welcome any improvements but it’s rarely if ever let me down. On the topic of user penetration what isn’t pointed out is any iOS user who uses Google’s search engine to find an address is forced to use Google Maps. In fact you can’t even copy the address instead getting a proprietary coordinates format that only works with Google Maps. THAT NEES TO STOP!

  • Two words Street View. Sure Apple Maps will give me a route and turn by turn directions, and very well I might ad. But sometimes I want to see what the place looks like from where I’m going to park. If it’s a big building, let me wander, virtually down the street to see where parking is available, where the building entrances are, what’s across the street, does the neighbourhood look sketchy. AFAIK Apple Maps won’t to that.

  • Ben might cover his hot buttons but fails to mention two of mine.

    1. the ability to adjust a route, as Google maps provides. Apple maps usually provides three choices but you have to pick just one. No mix-and-match, and no adjustment

    2. Turn-by-turn directions in other countries are awful. For example, main roads in Britain are labeled like M4 (a motorway, like an interstate here), A4 (large multi-lane road, often divided highway), B123 (secondary roads). But “Clara” – the Apple maps turn-by-turn assistant – instead refers to them by the road names such as “Oxford Road”, “Bristol Road” even though those name never appear on main road signage. And in Germany, she mangles the pronunciation of names so that they are entirely unintelligible. I think that “Berlin” is the only one that was understood.

    1. Yes the ability to specify or adjust a route, include side trips. I have iOS hiking and walking apps that can do that.

      I also want a distance scale that sticks on screen.

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