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Apple 'overhauling' the backend for its Maps service, hints at 'big plans' to come

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
The tools that provide access to Apple's Maps service are being rewritten in a major way, with the company now recruiting software engineers to help with a major rewrite of the Maps application programming interface, AppleInsider has discovered.

OS X Mavericks Maps


Apple's roadmap involves significant changes to the backend for the Maps services hosted from the company's servers. The details were revealed in a pair of new job postings (1, 2) this week for senior software engineers on the Maps API team.

"We've got big plans for our API -- we're looking for leaders that can design and build clean, scalable, and performance APIs, as well as design and build systems to trace, monitor, and debug requests once they enter our distributed backend systems with their complex dependencies," the listings read. "We're overhauling things front-to-back and want engineers that live and (breathe) distributed systems and services."

The listings would seem to suggest that Apple is planning to revamp its internal architecture for its Maps services nearly three years after it replaced Google -- and garnered criticism -- upon its debut in iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad.

Apple isn't just looking to revamp the backend for its Maps service, as the company is actively changing the data it presents to customers on a daily basis. This week, users discovered that Apple has been pushing out updates at 3 a.m. Eastern to update points of interests, roads and other mapping data, with some of the changes suggested by user reports.

iOS 7 Maps translucent chrome


For its new Maps API senior software engineers, Apple seeks candidates with bachelor's or master's degrees in computer science, or equivalent industry experience, to work at its Cupertino, Calif., corporate headquarters. The listings note that the Apple Maps service is found on hundreds of millions of devices and serves billions of requests per day.

"We're looking for cross-functional leaders to craft the service that receives, dispatches, and composes responses for the smorgasbord of actions that go into creating the Apple Maps experience," Apple said.
post #2 of 48
maps.apple.com please.

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post #3 of 48
Our little mapping service is growing up! Oh, but Google Maps doesn't need competition. Only Apple needs competition. Those are the forum rules. 1biggrin.gif

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post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Google Maps doesn't need competition. Only Apple needs competition. Those are the forum rules. 1biggrin.gif

1confused.gif
Google Maps was the scruffy underdog to Nokia, TeleAtlas, Mapquest, MSN Maps, Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and a few others. They did OK. Now Apple takes the underdog spot for awhile, and will probably end up just as successful if Apple is just as committed.
Edited by Gatorguy - 7/1/14 at 9:07am
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post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

maps.apple.com please.
No sign of coming, and at this point the only way I see is if they integrate with iCloud website.
post #6 of 48
Sounds like Huddler Lifestyle should apply for the job. They could make sure it crashes Safari and runs best on Chrome. And Unicode characters would turn into question marks. 1wink.gif

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

maps.apple.com please.

 

maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

 

I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK for 3rd party developers.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #8 of 48

Computerized maps... as mentioned many times on this forum, the update of information takes constant vigilance/validation etc... world wide yet. Boggles my mind (not hard to do). Thinking about Mavericks/iOS and how compartmentalized the updates are. That takes high level system thinking and focused execution. Sounds like Apple has come up with a 'system' for updating etc that is greatly simplified but more powerful. Core issue remains, getting the updates in- Crowd sourcing? Detailed satellite data perhaps? Read somewhere that there is a company offering up to date world wide images. If you tie that in with side views to see business names etc?? Ouch... my head hurts thinking about this.

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post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

No sign of coming, and at this point the only way I see is if they integrate with iCloud website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. 
Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK for 3rd party developers.

1) I have no problem with it being maps.cloud.com but I would like the maps access to not require a login. Note that if you are using a Mac or iOS-based device and send a Map link to someone it starts off as maps.apple.com?x=blahblah&y=yadayadaz=etc. However it's opened anywhere but on an Apple device that maps.apple.com link with then swap out the domain info for maps.google.com.

2) They already offer some mapping on icloud.com for the archaically named Find My iPhone section.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #10 of 48

Micro Mapping will become important.   Right now mapping is pretty much at street level scale (Google's Cars driving around on roads).

 

Apple is trying to get down to the foot traffic level, and provide 3D level mapping of buildings.   Apple can map malls and office buildings, determine elevators, escalators, stairs, and upload these to the mother DB ("I want to meet with my Tom Smith, my broker"  Siri:"It looks like you can drive  and park and then walk in 10 minutes or take public transportation and then walk there in 15 minutes","Let's take the bus,","Okay,  Walk to X Street and Y ave.  Catch the 14B at 3:30pm at X Street and Y Ave, ride it for 10Minutes and get off at Zstreet and 1stAve, Walk west 2 blocks, enter the ABC building, go to the elevators to your left, to the 20th floor, get off and turn left, and in 75' enter the door on the right, suite 2020".)

 

I can see Healthkit exploiting accurate walking/jogging/biking maps, and exploiting crowdsourcing to populate them ("This person is walking, appears this is a viable path...  This person is biking... most bikes appear to take this path, we should recommend this route)

 

Even Homekit has mapping needs. 

post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post
 

Micro Mapping will become important.   Right now mapping is pretty much at street level scale (Google's Cars driving around on roads).

 

Apple is trying to get down to the foot traffic level, and provide 3D level mapping of buildings.   Apple can map malls and office buildings, determine elevators, escalators, stairs, and upload these to the mother DB ("I want to meet with my Tom Smith, my broker"  Siri:"It looks like you can drive  and park and then walk in 10 minutes or take public transportation and then walk there in 15 minutes","Let's take the bus,","Okay,  Walk to X Street and Y ave.  Catch the 14B at 3:30pm at X Street and Y Ave, ride it for 10Minutes and get off at Zstreet and 1stAve, Walk west 2 blocks, enter the ABC building, go to the elevators to your left, to the 20th floor, get off and turn left, and in 75' enter the door on the right, suite 2020".)

 

I can see Healthkit exploiting accurate walking/jogging/biking maps, and exploiting crowdsourcing to populate them ("This person is walking, appears this is a viable path...  This person is biking... most bikes appear to take this path, we should recommend this route)

 

Even Homekit has mapping needs. 

 

Indeed, iOS 8 location services data can now include a floor number.

post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

maps.apple.com please.

 

Totally.

 

I still think that they aren't updating their maps fast enough (don't flame me!!!). My reference point remains Kyoto, a huge city. And after all these years, satellite images for that city still look terrible. It's true that maps was bad for a long time and I definitely can remember a moment from where their maps became much better, probably once a workflow was put in place to allow better customer suggestion management. I hope Apple maps will go the same route.

 

Also, streetview please. Apple's got the 3D models of the cities,  add high-res images for ground level that appear when zooming close enough and it's done !

post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post
 

 

maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

 

I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK for 3rd party developers.

 

No, it's going to be maps.apple.com if they do it. Shared adresses already use that URL.

post #14 of 48


iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

Totally.

I still think that they aren't updating their maps fast enough (don't flame me!!!). My reference point remains Kyoto, a huge city. And after all these years, satellite images for that city still look terrible. It's true that maps was bad for a long time and I definitely can remember a moment from where their maps became much better, probably once a workflow was put in place to allow better customer suggestion management. I hope Apple maps will go the same route.

Also, streetview please. Apple's got the 3D models of the cities,  add high-res images for ground level that appear when zooming close enough and it's done !

1) Of the half-dozen or so errors I've reported I don't think any of them have been fixed. I've certainly not gotten any feedback from Apple as I recall being reported as option for some.

2) I needed to use StreetView just the other day. I don't use it much but when I do I have to pop into Google for that and I hate their new web interface for Google Maps.

3) Apple made a big deal about FlyOver but the number of cities that are listed as FlyOver accessible is still very small after 2 years, which only includes when it was available in an iOS beta, not when the company they bought was using this tech. Objectively, if this was Google, Samsung, MS, anyone else I think we'd call it gimmicky and weak.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1 View Post


iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

I would say that iTunes Match needs to be accessible from iCloud. Apple wants to detach the Mac/WinPC as the "digital hub" but I still can't do much on an iOS-based device when it comes to my media library. I'd like an Apple Home Server and to be able to access my iTunes Library as setup with iTunes Match iTunes Radio, iTunes Store, and iBookstore via icloud.com.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #17 of 48
I use Apple maps whenever I can, because I hate the Google hegemony. Apple was letter perfect navigating New Zealand by rental car last year. But this year in Japan Apple was worthless to me navigating public transportation. Google Maps was a godsend in getting from place to place by train. Apple can't fix this omission soon enough.
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post #18 of 48

I like that term of "overhauling the backend."  That's awesome ghettospeak.

 

I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.  Google has it and Bing has it.  Apple can afford a fleet of vehicles and footsoldiers to create their own.  Using street view is so much fun for exploring.  It's possible not everyone cares about having street view, but I I find it very useful to check out when I need to go somewhere and get familiar with the area.  One would think any top mapping app would have to have street view.  Google even has underwater "street view" so they're definitely not messing around when it comes to mapping.  I know Apple has a really late start and would have to work double time to catch up.  That's OK.  Just as long as they're doing something to steadily improve Maps.  Rome wasn't built in a day or so they say.

post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

I still think that they aren't updating their maps fast enough (don't flame me!!!). My reference point remains Kyoto, a huge city. And after all these years, satellite images for that city still look terrible. It's true that maps was bad for a long time and I definitely can remember a moment from where their maps became much better, probably once a workflow was put in place to allow better customer suggestion management. I hope Apple maps will go the same route.

Also, streetview please. Apple's got the 3D models of the cities,  add high-res images for ground level that appear when zooming close enough and it's done !

We all have positive and negative stories about Maps. I'm glad to hear that Apple is moving in the right direction because of course Maps is never done. Even if Maps had a perfectly accurate POI database when it launched, the world is in constant change, and GIS data, POI databases, and satellite imagery has to be updated continuously (and regularly). Apple can continue to work on novel features (like 3D Flyover), but like the release of iMovie 11, or the launch of FCPX, the initial version of (Apple's internally sourced) Maps was underwhelming and missing features from the previous version--in the case of Maps, a loss of mass transit routes, stops & schedules, for example. But I'm bullish on Map's future because Apple is pretty good at quietly improving the products that launch poorly. Even MobileMe got pretty solid before it was rebooted as iCloud, and lost a bunch of features that iCloud only recently brought back.

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post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.

Interested in making a difference?
http://www.apple.com/feedback/maps_mac.html

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1 View Post


iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

Maybe mention it here:
http://www.apple.com/feedback/icloud.html

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post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

No sign of coming, and at this point the only way I see is if they integrate with iCloud website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. 
Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK for 3rd party developers.

1) I have no problem with it being maps.cloud.com but I would like the maps access to not require a login. Note that if you are using a Mac or iOS-based device and send a Map link to someone it starts off as maps.apple.com?x=blahblah&y=yadayadaz=etc. However it's opened anywhere but on an Apple device that maps.apple.com link with then swap out the domain info for maps.google.com.


AIR, in the WWDC keynote description of iCloud enhancements, they described the ability to share (photos?) with no requirement for login by the sharee

* Don't call me Cheri ...

I suspect that Apple has a legal basis to challenge swapping domain requests away from Apple domain

Quote:


2) They already offer some mapping on icloud.com for the archaically named Find My iPhone section.

On iCloud.com, Find My Phone uses Google maps backend (existing contract?)

On iOS 8 Find My iPhone uses Apple maps backend.

I think Apple should:
  1. use Apple maps for all on all platforms
  2. combine/extend the capability of Maps, Find My iPhone, Find My Friends into a single package across all platforms: iCloud, iOS, OS X
  3. offer a non-iCloud Apple maps service on the Apple web site
  4. expand all to support waypoints, tracepoints ...
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post #23 of 48

I want to be able to exclude highways from turn by turn directions, please.

post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post
 
Google Maps was the scruffy underdog to Nokia, TeleAtlas, Mapquest, MSN Maps, Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and a few others. They did OK. Now Apple takes the underdog spot for awhile, and will probably end up just as successful if Apple is just as committed.

I don't think everyone realizes how big of a job mapping the entire world actually is. Plus, once you get it done, you have to just start all over again. For that reason Apple is only a couple years behind Google even though Google had a 10 year head start.

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post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.

Interested in making a difference?
http://www.apple.com/feedback/maps_mac.html

Thanks for the link ...

I've been busy reporting problems (and some not-so-subtle feature requests).

The linked form is a better vehicle.


I find that Google, sad to say, does a much better job of parsing search requests, evaluating context -- then selecting the proper map results.


For example (from anywhere) when you use Apple Maps:

st pauls, london -- displays the proper map

st peters, rome -- displays a location in upstate new york


Or while displaying jerusalem:

both temple of david and dome of the rock -- take you to other countries.

Is Apple Maps guilty of Religious bias?
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post #26 of 48
iWatch + Maps = ?
post #27 of 48
Mmm ...

I just checked, and there have been only a few changes to MapKit this year for iOS and OS X -- none for iOS 8 or Yosemite.

Then there were the rumors that Maps weren't discussed at WWDC because of middle management problems in the maps group.

Then the leak of the "Flyover Tours" feature ...

Now, this "overhaul" ...

I suspect that there are hooks in iOS and Yosemite to support enhanced Maps feature -- but the APIs are not included (or not exposed to developers),

It;s 2 months until the "fall release" of the new OSes ...

Apple could add Maps enhancements to the betas with little problem ... I wonder!
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post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

Google even has underwater "street view" so they're definitely not messing around when it comes to mapping.

Is this for getting around Atlantis?
post #29 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1 View Post
 

iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

 

are you lost?

post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post
 

I like that term of "overhauling the backend."  That's awesome ghettospeak.

 

I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.  Google has it and Bing has it. 

 

Have you ever had a good idea, or a sensical post? The answer is no. Not a single one of your posts has ever contained a shred of insight. 

 

Apple maps will never get street view, nor should it. Its such an invasion of priacy, not to mention being ridiculously inefficient, and needing ludicrous amount of time and manpower to map. You really want Apple cars driving down every fucking street mapping it? So in a few years they can stitch together some images that will get outdated in a few months? 3D mapping from the sky is far superior, Apple should focus on expanding their flyover view if anything (which they're doing). Wanting them to mindlessly copy streetview is just utter stupidity. 

post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post
 

I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.  ... Bing has it.

 

I get this a lot with Bing Streetside:

 

Quote:
 We are unable to load the selected map app. Please try again later.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

I don't think everyone realizes how big of a job mapping the entire world actually is. Plus, once you get it done, you have to just start all over again. For that reason Apple is only a couple years behind Google even though Google had a 10 year head start.

 

Entire sections of Europe are missing even the most basic street detail, and the Yelp POI data has been abysmal.  I think "a couple years behind" is too generous.  If Apple really wants to be in maps (and it seems they do) then they're going to have to devote the resources needed to do it right.  They aren't going to be able to halfass it with a small team, then kill it off later, a la Aperture.

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

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post #32 of 48
Why is the flyover button called flyover when my iPhone reads 3D?


Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


2) I needed to use StreetView just the other day. I don't use it much but when I do I have to pop into Google for that and I hate their new web interface for Google Maps.

I don't like the new UI either. For the occasional Street View I simply grab my 1st gen iPad with the Apple designed maps app.
Quote:
3) Apple made a big deal about FlyOver but the number of cities that are listed as FlyOver accessible is still very small after 2 years, which only includes when it was available in an iOS beta, not when the company they bought was using this tech. Objectively, if this was Google, Samsung, MS, anyone else I think we'd call it gimmicky and weak.

Someone posted this link here the other day, I think it's useful to bookmark it:

http://flyovercities.com
post #33 of 48
Would like to have public transportation baked in.
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

"1) Of the half-dozen or so errors I've reported I don't think any of them have been fixed. I've certainly not gotten any feedback from Apple as I recall being reported as option for some."

I've had the same experience. One particularly annoying example is a site that's only about 20 miles from Apple HQ. They still show it as a school even though that was torn down and a retirement home built there around 15 years ago. I've sent in a correction many many times since the Maps app was first released. I don't expect to hear from Apple, but it hasn't been fixed.
post #35 of 48
Interesting. My problem with Apple Maps has never been with the interface or backend, but with the data set and search (closely related to the data set). So, while I don't doubt that this complete overhaul will eventually yield something good, I think that Apple really needs to spend more time on what they are feeding the system.
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

I think that Apple really needs to spend more time on what they are feeding the system.

To me that seems like an easily solvable problem. I'd think that's about man-hours more than anything else.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #37 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


To me that seems like an easily solvable problem. I'd think that's about man-hours more than anything else.

 

I disagree, I think it's the hardest problem. That's why so much of the data is crowd-sourced - it's too big a job for Apple or Google to do on their own.

 

Whoever has the largest crowd wins. maps.apple.com would certainly be a step in the right direction!

post #38 of 48

Apple could really hurt Google by pulling a Nokia and allowing you to download and store complete maps for states, countries, etc. Google has to keep you connected because they want to sell you ads. Apple can cater to the fact that you might be a world traveler who doesn't want to use up all your data access when roaming by downloading map results.

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post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

Apple could really hurt Google by pulling a Nokia and allowing you to download and store complete maps for states, countries, etc. Google has to keep you connected because they want to sell you ads. Apple can cater to the fact that you might be a world traveler who doesn't want to use up all your data access when roaming by downloading map results.

apart from the fact you can store Google maps offline for use therefore no ads.
post #40 of 48
You know I'm still dissapointed in that part of my prediction for WWDC this year re: Apple Home Server added to a Time Capsul sized device.

But hey... the year's nit over yet and I still think it's a compelling future product for Apple if they truly want to enable the Post-PC devices and advance the revolution. 1smoking.gif
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