Entries in Google Maps (7)


NORAD Replaces Google Maps with Bing to Track Santa Claus

NORAD(NEW YORK) -- Santa Claus is comin’ to town, but you won’t be able to find him on your Google Maps.

That’s because the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has decided to switch from Google Maps, which it has used since 2007, to Microsoft’s Bing maps for its annual NORAD Tracks Santa project.

“NORAD and Google have decided to go their separate ways and pursue other opportunities,” said Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the project.  “It was a mutually agreed upon decision that transpired earlier this year.”

This is the first time NORAD is inserting Bing maps into the interactive experience, and Kucharek said the transition has been smooth.  With three different Smartphone apps to track Santa this Christmas, families can spot and pinpoint Santa through Bing maps available on the iPhone, and Android and Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

Since Dec. 12, NORAD’s Tracks Santa app has been downloaded nearly 922,000 times through Apple’s iTunes; almost 558,000 times for Android users; and approximately 2,500 times for Windows Phone 8 users.

Kucharek said NORAD relies on technology to change with the times and to reach a broader audience through its website, which includes families around the world.  Twenty-nine percent of the site’s visitors are from the U.K., 7 percent from Canada and 5 percent from Japan.

“I don’t know that we thought we could do better than what we were doing in 2004,” said Kucharek.  “Technology has exponentially increased our outreach.”

That technology also includes social media.  NORAD’s Tracks Santa has a Twitter following of close to 95,000, a Facebook page with well over a million likes and over 4,000 Google+ subscribers.  And don’t forget their YouTube video with nearly 490,000 views, as well.

NORAD began tracking Santa from Peterson Air Force Base in 1955 when a small child called the base in hopes of speaking with Santa Claus.

The base phone number was misprinted in a Sears newspaper ad.  Children placing calls to Santa were actually sent to Peterson Air Force Base.

“The number went straight to Col. Harry Shoup and he just played along,” said Kurcharek.

At that time, NORAD had no sponsors or high-speed technology to help track Santa.  Over the years, the project has grown in scope and size from 10 partners in 2004 to over 50 this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Maps App for iPhone Released

Google(NEW YORK) -- The long-awaited Google Maps app for Apple's iPhone is finally here.  The app was released Thursday in Apple's App Store.

Ever since Apple replaced Google Maps with its own Maps app in iOS 6 and on the iPhone 5 in September, users have been yearning for Google's map features.

"People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone," Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps for Mobile, said in a blog post.  "It's designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you're looking for faster and easier."

The app brings Google's mapping service to the iPhone and the iPod Touch (no iPad-optimized app yet) via a standalone, downloadable app.  iPhone users no longer have to access the service through the browser on their iPhone.  

The app also provides robust features, including voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transport directions, live traffic and street view.  Google highlights that the maps are "accurate" in its description in the App Store.

Google also highlights that it has worked specifically to make it a fast experience and tie in search and Zagat results.  Google says it will continue to work on the app -- in fact, users can even shake the phone to provide more feedback.

The new app comes as Apple itself continues to try and improve its own Maps app.

"We're putting all of our energy into making it right.  And we have already had several software updates.  We've got a huge plan to make it even better," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last week.

Cook publicly apologized to users for the Maps experience just a few days after Apple's Maps app was released in iOS 6 and replaced Google's previous version.

"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers.  With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment," Cook wrote on Apple's site in September.

Scott Forstall, who was responsible for iOS software and the Maps app, will be leaving the company next year.  According to reports, he was let go when he wouldn't apologize along with Cook.

Since Apple's app was released, there have continued to be numerous flaws found.  Just this week, an Australian police district urged motorists to use other mapping options.

According to reports, Apple decided to create its own solution after Google held back features, such as turn-by-turn directions, from Apple's app.  Apple also wanted to have control over its own solution, especially given that it was a preloaded app.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Adds 250,000 Miles of Street View as Apple Tries to Improve

Google(NEW YORK) -- While Apple is apologizing for its new Maps app and trying to mend the glitches, Google is trying to stomp it into the ground.

For those who haven't been following the mobile maps war between the two tech giants: Apple's new maps app in iOS 6, which was released in September, replaced Google Maps for the iPhone and iPad. It was quickly criticized by many users for its lack of certain features -- but more so for mistaken locations and jumbled images.

Thursday Google announced that it is releasing the biggest update ever to its Street View feature, which gives users a view of what places actually look like from cars dispatched by Google to photograph everything they pass. The company has doubled the number of images in Street View images, adding 250,000 miles of road from around the world.

Listed on Google's blog are places where they have added more Street View coverage. Some are in the U.S., but most are abroad, in places like South Africa, Denmark, Japan and Spain.

Google has even added places like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan and Stanley Park in Vancouver.

"Street View, as you know, is a useful resource when you're planning a route or looking for a destination, but it can also magically transport you to some of the world's picturesque and culturally significant landmarks," Ulf Spitzer, the Street View program manager, wrote.

Apple's new Maps app has been criticized for lacking anything like Street View, which is very helpful when you want to see a place without going there. While Google offers its Maps service via its mobile website for the iPhone, which includes Street View, it doesn't yet offer a full mobile app in Apple's App Store.

Two weeks ago Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, apologized for the glitches in the new maps app. Apple also directed people to Google's Maps and provided instructions on how to create a shortcut to the Google Maps website on the iPhone or iPad home screen. Apple has been releasing updates to its offering, which fix glitches like distorted landmarks.

"Apple should have kept our maps," Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, said Wednesday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York. "The fact of the matter is they decided a long time ago to do its own maps … What Apple has learned is that maps are really hard."

Interviewer Walt Mossberg asked if Google would release a dedicated app for the iPhone. "I don't want to pre-announce products," Schmidt answered.

Google has been rumored to be planning an app for the iPhone before the end of the year, though Schmidt did say that it all would depend on Apple's approval of it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Apple iOS 6: Facebook Integration, Improved Siri, New Maps

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Apple today showed off iOS 6, the feature-laden successor to its current iOS 5 software for iPhones and iPads. It will bring 200 new features to the iPhone and iPad, the company said, including Facebook integration, Apple's own 3D maps, and improvements to its voice-activated Siri virtual assistant.

"iOS 6 is a phenomenal release," said Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president for iOS software. The new system should be shipped to consumers this fall; an early so-called Beta version will be available to software developers today, Forstall announced to a packed house at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.

Among other enhancements, Siri will, for the first time, be included in the iPad, said Forstall. And users will be able to move seamlessly between one device and another.

Forstall showed Siri's improved ability to give turn-by-turn directions if one is driving, make restaurant reservations and show schedule and gate changes in real time if your plane is delayed.

The navigation system will be activated by an "eyes-free" button in some new car models; Apple said it is working with BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda and other automakers.

Apple said it has partnered with such online services as OpenTable for reservations, RottenTomatoes for movie reviews and times, and several gaming companies.

The new operating system is designed as something of a threat to Google, with its comprehensive map software. Apple said it will now have its own, including flyover views of major cities to help give you a sense of where you are.

"In iOS 6 we have built an entire new maps system from the ground up," said Forstall.

Facebook will be a central part of the new system, said Apple. Log on and almost anything you're doing on your iPad or iPhone can be shared instantly with friends.

And phone calls will be easier. There is a new "Do Not Disturb" feature, plus other ways to send quick messages if someone calls while you're busy but don't want to ignore them. Apple said iOS 6 will remind you to get back to those people later.

"Only Apple can make such amazing hardware, software, and services," Apple CEO Tim Cook said on stage at the conference. "These products can change the world."

The company, however, made no mention of a new iPhone, what has been rumored to be called the iPhone 5. Talk has been swirling about the new phone for months and the new device is expected to have a larger screen, a different dock connector, and a new design.

The WWDC developers' meeting has over 3,000 attendees this week. The attendees are Apple developers, or those who create software for Apple's iOS and Mac OS X operating systems.

Apple stock, which had been up in the morning, lost about one percent of its value after the announcement finished.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Announces New and Improved Mapping Products

ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Google’s doing a full sweep of its Maps products, looking to improve the experience for its 1 billion monthly active users.

At a press event at its downtown San Francisco offices, the company showed a number of new mapping features, including offline maps for Android phones, a new Street View camera contraption, and enhanced 3-D maps for Google Earth.

“As of today, Google Maps is going offline,” said Rita Chen, a Google product manager, at the event. Soon, Chen said, you will be able to download a map to your Android phone so you won’t have to be on a Wi-Fi or 3G network to see the streets or get directions.

If you are traveling abroad or when you are in pockets of the country that lack cellular service, you will be able to select an area or map and download it before your trip.

The offline maps feature has only been announced for Android phones and tablets. “We would like to get all services on all platforms,” said Brian McClendon, V.P. of engineering for Google Maps.

Google is also taking steps with its Street View feature. Literally. On stage it announced the Street View Trekker, a backpack-like contraption that will allow people to strap Street View panoramic cameras to their backs and capture off-road views.

Until now, Google has used cars, trikes, snowmobiles and trolleys to capture Street View imagery. The Trekker has an advanced camera and hooks into an Android phone to capture the data.

If you don’t want an actual view, Google is improving its 3-D rendering. “Today we are excited to announce that we will begin adding 3-D models to entire metropolitan areas to Google Earth on mobile devices,” McClendon said. While there have already been 3-D models, Google will now be looking to make entire cities, including buildings and terrain, three-dimensional.

All of the Google map announcements come prior to Apple’s WWDC event next week, where it is expected to announce its own mapping software — and its plans to drop Google Maps as the default map service on the iPhone and iPad.

When asked about Apple’s rumored plans, McClendon would only say, “I’m very proud of Google Maps services and I think we will continue to make Google map services available as widely as possible.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Apple Removing Google Maps from iPhone, iPad

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple is reportedly looking to eliminate Google Maps from its devices.

Citing current and former Apple employees, the Wall Street Journal says the company plans to remove the maps app, which is currently preloaded on iPhones and iPads, and replace it with a new service that runs Apple's own technology.  The move is said to be happening later this year.

One person familiar with the matter tells the newspaper the new software could be introduced as early as next week when Apple holds its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Want to Buy a Foreclosed Home? Try Google Maps or Zillow

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With mortgage rates at their highest level in six months, this may be an opportune time for buyers.

Real estate websites are offering better tools to research foreclosed homes for sale, sometimes at a steep discount. Earlier this month, RealtyTrac announced that in the third quarter of this year, the average sales price of properties sold in some stage of foreclosure was over 32 percent below the average sales price of properties not in foreclosure.

Google Maps began offering a search feature last year for foreclosed properties. It is growing in popularity, though it is not very novel, said Justin McHood of

McHood, who writes about mortgage topics for, one of the largest real estate websites, said a number of sites are simply rehashing what is known as "multiple listing services," regional listings of properties for sale. Last month had 12.5 million visitors, up 60 percent from last year, according to Bohutinsky. Despite the "biggest real estate downturn of our lifetime," she said is growing, as is the number of other real estate websites. is a real estate website that specializes in foreclosed properties, with over 2 million listings, according to senior vice president Rick Sharga. Although all foreclosed properties are listed in public records, he estimates that less than 6 percent of public foreclosure databases are online. Sharga said fills that gap by hiring contract employees to hand collect those records in court houses in 2,200 counties nationwide.

Fannie Mae launched a website in June,, which lists the properties it owns. gets 15 to 19 million hits per month and generates about 800 leads a day to listing brokers, according to Janis Smith, a spokeswoman for Fannie Mae. More than 87,000 families purchased HomePath properties in the first half of 2010, according to Terry Edwards, executive vice president, Credit Portfolio Management at Fannie Mae.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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