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Apple bulking up iOS development team with navigation software experts

post #1 of 33
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Apple this week put out a call for a number of new software engineers for its iOS development team, indicating it wants candidates that have experience developing navigation software.

The four new job listings (1, 2, 3, 4) are all identical, suggesting that Apple is looking to hire at least four new employees for its iOS development team. The description for the full-time job based in Santa Clara Valley, Calif., calls for "outstanding engineers to deliver the next generation of Apple products."

"Seize this ground floor opportunity to help us build the world's best hosted platforms at massive scale," it reads.

Apple seeks job candidates with "valuable knowledge" related to the development of navigation software, as well as "deep knowledge of Computational Geometry or Graph Theory." Candidates are required to have at least 3 years' experience of developing "high quality, robust software systems."

The hires, and the mention of navigation software, could signal that Apple is gearing up to build its own personal navigation tools into the iOS mobile operating system. Apple's chief competitor in the mobile space, Google, introduced its own turn-by-turn software for Android devices over a year ago.

A cloud-based navigation solution could also be a major use for Apple's new massive data center in North Carolina. Another job listing posted this week for an iOS software engineer notes that it looking for an employee to manage and automate "distributed image processing on a server cluster."



"The position is with an emerging and rapidly growing product team building software used by millions of Apple customers in rapidly growing markets worldwide," the description reads. "The candidate will be part of a team that develops and maintains a complex array of global content."

iOS 4 also includes a video out feature that could allow remote control and display of an iPhone, a feature that has already been taken advantage of by BMW. It's possible that Apple's solution could seamlessly integrate turn-by-turn directions with a vehicle using this method.

Apple has also shown interest in developing its own unique mapping solution for the iPhone, with two key acquisitions related to maps: Placebase and Poly9.

In April of this year, Apple began integrating its own databases for location-based services following the release of the iPad and iOS 3.2. Previously, Apple relied on databases maintained by Skyhook Wireless and Google for location services.

The iOS Maps application still relies on Google for map imagery as well as its "Street View," but the change could signal that Apple plans to rely solely on its own technology in the future. In addition, in 2009, Apple indicated it wanted to hire someone who would help take the iPhone's Maps application "to the next level," with the intention of changing how users use Maps and find things.

"We want to do this in a seamless, highly interactive and enjoyable way," that job listing read. "We've only just started."
post #2 of 33
Apple should seriously consider making a visual software development platform or increase Interface Builder's capabilities by adding more preset behaviors.

Programming for iOS can get very tedious for the simplest tasks, and I feel that Apple can do a lot better.
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post #3 of 33
Buy Tom Tom.
post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Buy Tom Tom.

TomToms valuation is $1.7 Billion. I think its way too rich for their blood. I also dont think it would be a great move for Apple since they are already getting 30% of TomToms app sales on iDevices without doing anything.

PS: TomTom for iPhone is pretty great.
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post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Buy Tom Tom.

...or The National Geographic Society.

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GOA

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GOA

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post #6 of 33
Maybe this is more to do with the birth of some kind of Apple Maps in general rather than specifically driving software such as Tom Tom et al. If Apple were to enter this field their previous acquisitions such as Siri may make for a new and novel twist on the approach rather than just another Google Maps as Bing is.
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post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Maybe this is more to do with the birth of some kind of Apple Maps in general rather than specifically driving software such as Tom Tom et al. If Apple were to enter this field their previous acquisitions such as Siri may make for a new and novel twist on the approach rather than just another Google Maps as Bing is.

I think that is their focus, too. Google Map 5.0 for Android has a bunch of nifty features that I’d expect Apple to also be working on. Like offline viewing, considerably faster map loading, and 3D building overlays.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/16/g...iew-and-offli/ Does anyone have a solid idea why Apple bought those mapping companies? IOW, do they have some really future forward ideas about mapping?
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post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

Apple should seriously consider making a visual software development platform or increase Interface Builder's capabilities by adding more preset behaviors.

Programming for iOS can get very tedious for the simplest tasks, and I feel that Apple can do a lot better.

Totally disagree. Apple would do better to drop Interface Builder altogether. Interface Builder was a tack on at the last minute to make user interfaces easier to build, but the code underneath NIBs is very inefficient. That's why iOS was designed without IB and it was added on for drag-and-drop programmers who didn't have the skills required. IB was left out as it's loading was extremely inefficient, and none of Apple's on-device apps use it at all for that reason.

As a previous Apple employee on the UIKit team, and a full time developer, I don't use IB at all, and strip my code of it entirely. With 5 lines of code I can lay the foundations of a brilliant application. My loadup times for interfaces trample IB at approximately 3 times the speed.

It's not about things being fiddly. It's about the fact coding isn't for the layman - there is a lot of skill required to know the best ways to do things.
post #9 of 33
license Bing Maps which is a lot cooler than Google Maps

it's like the old Virtual Earth MS had. it was pretty cool for it's time but MS can't seem to figure out how to make money on anything except Windows, Server and X-Box
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think that is their focus, too. Google Map 5.0 for Android has a bunch of nifty features that I’d expect Apple to also be working on. Like offline viewing, considerably faster map loading, and 3D building overlays.[INDENT]• http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/16/g...iew-and-offli/

Wow that 3D overlay is cool - assuming there is an accurate 3D representation of the area you are in I guess - is that a Google addition or relying on enduser uploads? Is this coming to iOS too do you know? If not is that a technical or a marketing decision?
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post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

license Bing Maps which is a lot cooler than Google Maps

it's like the old Virtual Earth MS had. it was pretty cool for it's time but MS can't seem to figure out how to make money on anything except Windows, Server and X-Box

No street view any more, which is not a good news. Also many apps has to rewrite!
post #12 of 33
All I hope is that this is a sign that a dedicated GPS chip gets into the next iPod touch. Facebook for iPhone's new check-in features, and other location-based apps and services (including potential advertising?), would be nice to have in non-3G devices.
post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A cloud-based navigation solution could also be a major use for Apple's new massive data center in North Carolina. Another job listing posted this week for an iOS software engineer notes that it looking for an employee to manage and automate "distributed image processing on a server cluster."

Emphasis mine.

This caught my eye.

Why does Apple want an iOS engineer developing distributed image processing software on a server cluster?

Just what comprises distributed image processing?


Does that imply:

-- that the server is running iOS?
-- that the server is ARM based?
-- that the server resides in North Carolina?
-- that the server resides in the back office of enterprise?
-- that the server resides in the home?
-- that the software will be used for Pro Apps, E.g. Final Cut, et al?
-- that the software will be used by ProSumer Apps, e.g. iMovie, iPhoto. etc.?
-- that Apple is planning on providing a high-volume image processing service.
-- that Apple is planning on introducing an iDevice with increased image-creation capability?

All sorts of interesting possibilities here -- ranging from ARM servers to iPhones, iPads and iPods.
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post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

TomTom’s valuation is $1.7 Billion. I think it’s way too rich for their blood. I also don’t think it would be a great move for Apple since they are already getting 30% of TomTom’s app sales on iDevices without doing anything.

PS: TomTom for iPhone is pretty great.

Navigon navigation is awesome for the iPhone - have been using for almost 2 years. Wonder what Navigon would cost - they are mostly in Europe, from what I understand, and used the iOS as the introduction to the us market - used to be much better than TomTom, but haven't compared them lately.
post #15 of 33
With google now rolling out map updates for android first, I think this is a good idea.
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post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think that is their focus, too. Google Map 5.0 for Android has a bunch of nifty features that Id expect Apple to also be working on. Like offline viewing, considerably faster map loading, and 3D building overlays.
http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/16/g...iew-and-offli/ Does anyone have a solid idea why Apple bought those mapping companies? IOW, do they have some really future forward ideas about mapping?

I played with the map apps on the site -- they were pretty neat.

The "mapping" quality was nothing special as maps are concerned -- MapQuest, Google, et al have better quality maps on the web.

What was unique is that you could script overlays for the maps to present demographic data -- e.g. the median house income breakdown by political party for Pasadena.

What Apple appeared to be buying was:
-- basic mapping capability,
-- scripting/overlay capability
-- in place, contractual sources for demographic data

Apple could provide these capabilities in an app, or use the maps, themselves, to sell, customize and report advertising.
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post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

Apple should seriously consider making a visual software development platform or increase Interface Builder's capabilities by adding more preset behaviors.

Programming for iOS can get very tedious for the simplest tasks, and I feel that Apple can do a lot better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

Totally disagree. Apple would do better to drop Interface Builder altogether. Interface Builder was a tack on at the last minute to make user interfaces easier to build, but the code underneath NIBs is very inefficient. That's why iOS was designed without IB and it was added on for drag-and-drop programmers who didn't have the skills required. IB was left out as it's loading was extremely inefficient, and none of Apple's on-device apps use it at all for that reason.

As a previous Apple employee on the UIKit team, and a full time developer, I don't use IB at all, and strip my code of it entirely. With 5 lines of code I can lay the foundations of a brilliant application. My loadup times for interfaces trample IB at approximately 3 times the speed.

It's not about things being fiddly. It's about the fact coding isn't for the layman - there is a lot of skill required to know the best ways to do things.

I actually agree with both of you.

The XCode 4 beta is an improvement!

Apple should expand the IB integration with more controls and drag and drop.

Apple should eliminate all the XML bloat, in IB and elsewhere -- it is verbose, wasting RAM and storage, and time-consuming to parse/encode.


Some classes (or portions) of high-use/high-performance apps need to be coded closer to the iron than allowed by the more-general IB approach. I gan see a high=performance game using IB for things like registration, settings, scores, help, etc -- but not for the game. itself.


I think that in the near future, Apple will allow another kind of app on iDevices. An app that is written (or a general-purpose app that is modified) and installed without Apple distribution or curation. This could be written by developers or the end-user himself. A scripting construct such as HyperCard could be a development tool.

I suspect that this class of apps would mainly target the iPad.
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post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

TomToms valuation is $1.7 Billion. I think its way too rich for their blood. I also dont think it would be a great move for Apple since they are already getting 30% of TomToms app sales on iDevices without doing anything.

PS: TomTom for iPhone is pretty great.

Yes, but only 1% of iPhone customers are getting the benefit of TomTom's app.
Apple needs to include turn-by-turn directions as part of the OS.
Apple also needs to have great mapping APIs available to third party apps.
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Does anyone have a solid idea why Apple bought those mapping companies? IOW, do they have some really future forward ideas about mapping?

Apple is increasingly becoming a mobile devices company.
As devices become increasingly mobile, location awareness and the ability to intelligently use that information will become more important.
Location affects advertising, entertainment, shopping, travel, weather...everything.

Apple understands that location based services needs to become a core competency to have a successful mobile platform.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikeb View Post

All I hope is that this is a sign that a dedicated GPS chip gets into the next iPod touch. Facebook for iPhone's new check-in features, and other location-based apps and services (including potential advertising?), would be nice to have in non-3G devices.

Agreed. GPS chips should be standard in iPod Touches, iPads and MacBooks.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

Totally disagree. Apple would do better to drop Interface Builder altogether. Interface Builder was a tack on at the last minute to make user interfaces easier to build, but the code underneath NIBs is very inefficient

Thanks for this post. It is particularly enlightening.
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Emphasis mine.

This caught my eye.

Why does Apple want an iOS engineer developing distributed image processing software on a server cluster?

Just what comprises distributed image processing?


Does that imply:

-- that the server is running iOS?
-- that the server is ARM based?
-- that the server resides in North Carolina?
-- that the server resides in the back office of enterprise?
-- that the server resides in the home?
-- that the software will be used for Pro Apps, E.g. Final Cut, et al?
-- that the software will be used by ProSumer Apps, e.g. iMovie, iPhoto. etc.?
-- that Apple is planning on providing a high-volume image processing service.
-- that Apple is planning on introducing an iDevice with increased image-creation capability?

All sorts of interesting possibilities here -- ranging from ARM servers to iPhones, iPads and iPods.

Just trying to keep up with the Jonses:

Google Goggles
Facebook Launches Face Recognition for Photos
Microsoft PhotoSynth

This is an audio processing example:
Cloud based speech recognition

The iPhone is packed with sensors.
The camera is just one of them.
I'm sure Apple wants to be able to sensor data from millions of iPhones, process that data and transform it into usable intelligence.
post #23 of 33
I think we should keep in mind what Apple (JObs I think) once said (paraphrased):

"We urn away a lot of great ideas all the time."

Therefore, if they are pursuing this, then they must feel it is very important.
post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tkwlee View Post

No street view any more, which is not a good news. Also many apps has to rewrite!

they have street view

last year the guy in charge of Bing Maps did a really nice presentation at TED conference with some cool features
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Maybe this is more to do with the birth of some kind of Apple Maps in general rather than specifically driving software such as Tom Tom et al. If Apple were to enter this field their previous acquisitions such as Siri may make for a new and novel twist on the approach rather than just another Google Maps as Bing is.

Apple just bought a maps company this year (or last year not sure). Can't remember the name.

The iPhone maps app is embarrassing right now - it hasn't been updated for years, and it's made by their biggest competitor. It's a sure bet that it will be replaced as soon as that's technically possible, e.g. as soon as they have something that's at least as good as what they have now.

The iPhone map looks really bad compared to the new version for Android of course, but this is Apple, they're going to shoot for something that is even better.

Let's hope they can make it happen soon. I don't think there's much need for a "cloud" service for any of it - sure you have the map database on the servers, but that's nothing that a bog normal server couldn't handle - no need for a huge $1Bn data center.
post #26 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Apple is increasingly becoming a mobile devices company.
As devices become increasingly mobile, location awareness and the ability to intelligently use that information will become more important.
Location affects advertising, entertainment, shopping, travel, weather...everything.

Apple understands that location based services needs to become a core competency to have a successful mobile platform.

+++

Couldn't agree with this more. There's going to be GPS chips in everything. It's already stupid in many day to day situations that my MacBook Pro doesn't have GPS. Take Google maps - I hardly use this on my laptop as it's 100 times better on the iPad / iPhone. Because these know where I am.
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

they have street view

last year the guy in charge of Bing Maps did a really nice presentation at TED conference with some cool features

But their street view is for US only.
Also Apple can use their own maps instead of relying on Google and Microsoft
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

I played with the map apps on the site -- they were pretty neat.

The "mapping" quality was nothing special as maps are concerned -- MapQuest, Google, et al have better quality maps on the web.

What was unique is that you could script overlays for the maps to present demographic data -- e.g. the median house income breakdown by political party for Pasadena.

What Apple appeared to be buying was:
-- basic mapping capability,
-- scripting/overlay capability
-- in place, contractual sources for demographic data

Apple could provide these capabilities in an app, or use the maps, themselves, to sell, customize and report advertising.

One thing you forgot:
-- The people.

Apple quite often buys companies for the people first and foremost - see PA Semi. Apple needs to build a maps app, so why not get a whole company that's already doing it, already has the basics, and - presumably - have excellent engineers to build on what they have.

Now with other companies, that often backfires - everyone quits sooner or later. But Apple is an exciting company to work for, and Steve Jobs will personally make sure nobody important quits. You don't quit when you get a visit from Steve Jobs - it's always been that way, even from the early days. He'll convince you to stay. Benefits of having a RDF.
post #29 of 33
Apple should buy an Australian company called Nearmap (aka Ipernica) if they want to beat Google at their own game. http://www.nearmap.com/products/photomap-gallery

They have a very innovative system using aerial photography where they can cover a city like Sydney in just six hours whereas a conventional approach by another company took 40 days.

They photomapped 30,000 sq Km at 7cm resolution in just six weeks.
post #30 of 33
glad they're doing something... I use my google turn by turn daily on my incredible, and I could't give it up... I can't see paying for something (as an app) that I get for free on a different device...
post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikster View Post

One thing you forgot:
-- The people.

Apple quite often buys companies for the people first and foremost - see PA Semi. Apple needs to build a maps app, so why not get a whole company that's already doing it, already has the basics, and - presumably - have excellent engineers to build on what they have.

Now with other companies, that often backfires - everyone quits sooner or later. But Apple is an exciting company to work for, and Steve Jobs will personally make sure nobody important quits. You don't quit when you get a visit from Steve Jobs - it's always been that way, even from the early days. He'll convince you to stay. Benefits of having a RDF.

Yes, of course. I should have mentioned the people!

Apple's purchase of FingerWorks is a good example of the advantage of getting the 'people" along with the IP.

But that doesn't always work out. Especially PA Semi:

P.A. Semi Chief Leaves Apple for Agnilux

http://news.softpedia.com/news/P-A-S...x-137644.shtml

and

Understanding Agnilux, Google’s Latest Purchase

http://www.thechromesource.com/under...test-purchase/
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post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikster View Post

+++

Couldn't agree with this more. There's going to be GPS chips in everything. It's already stupid in many day to day situations that my MacBook Pro doesn't have GPS. Take Google maps - I hardly use this on my laptop as it's 100 times better on the iPad / iPhone. Because these know where I am.

Do you use your Macbook outside much? If not, then having GPS in your macbook isn't of benefit. You need to be outside with a clear line of sight to the sky to get a GPS fix and not a great deal of people use their laptops outside.

Snow Leopard features CoreLocation and get an estimate of your location based on wifi signals, and Google Maps usually gives a pretty accurate location fix in modern Webkit browsers. Seeing as GPS receivers are so small and cheap, I would like to see them built-in to all Macbooks too just for the hell of it, but in real world usage it's not going to be of great benefit.

Secondly, from what I read, the GPS receiver in the iPhone isn't fast/effective without being near cell tower masts to get a quick location fix, so that may well me one of the main reasons for it not being included in the iPod touch (as the iPod touch doesn't have the hardware to receive signals from cell towers, getting a location fix would be slow). Also, Google Maps isn't a great deal of use without an internet connection, so GPS receiver wouldn't be very useful on an iPod touch with the built in apps.

I predict and hope that this will change with the September 2011 iPod touch, as Google Maps now supports offline maps (as they have changed to vector drawn maps which are a tiny fraction of the size).
post #33 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Emphasis mine.

This caught my eye.

Why does Apple want an iOS engineer developing distributed image processing software on a server cluster?

It reads to me as Apple is looking at how to add seamless server based image processing to iOS apps. The trade off is bandwidth (moving the images back and forth) vs CPU (local processing). Ideally you would want an app to pick the best option based on the available resources.
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