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Apple turns away from Google in new iPhone apps

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is kicking an important Google application off its iPhone and buddying up with Facebook rather than Google's social network as it distances itself from a bitter rival in the phone arena.

Google's Maps application has resided on the iPhone since Apple launched the first version of the phone in 2007. It's one of the core apps on the phone and can't be deleted by the user.

But on Monday, Apple executives said Google Maps will be replaced by an Apple-developed app in iOS 6, the new operating system for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. It's set to be released late this year.

Apple and Google are locked in a smartphone fight — and the advertising opportunities that come with owning a mapping application. Smartphones from companies like Samsung and Google's own Motorola division are the chief alternatives to the iPhone, and Apple has been suing those manufacturers in court, accusing them of ripping off the iPhone's ground-breaking features.

Apple also said it's building Facebook into iOS 6, snubbing the Google Plus social network. Users will be able to update their Facebook status by talking to their phones, and "like" movies and apps in Apple's iTunes store, Apple executive Scott Forstall said.

The announcements were part of the keynote presentation that kicked off Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Apple presented new features in both phone and Mac software, plus updated laptops. But investors were mildly disappointed, as they expected more substantive news, like a hint of Apple's ambition to get into making TVs.

Among other updates in iOS 6, Apple's voice-command application Siri will add a host of new languages, including Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, Forstall said. "She" will also be able to launch applications and movies, and will run on iPads.

Apple also said the new version of its Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, will go on sale next month for $20. The update brings features from Apple's phone and tablet software, like the iMessage texting application, to the Mac.

Mountain Lion also will bring dictation to Macs. Users will be able to input text by talking to the computer, in any program. This is already a feature of Microsoft's competing Windows software.

On the hardware side, Apple showed off a laptop with a super-high resolution "Retina" display, setting a new standard for screen sharpness.

The new MacBook Pro will have a 15-inch screen and four times the resolution of previous models, Apple executive Phil Schiller said.

Apple already uses "Retina" displays — with individual pixels too small to be distinguished by the naked eye — in its latest iPhones and iPads.

On the phones and tablets, the Retina display is a standard feature. On the MacBook, it's an expensive upgrade. The new MacBook will cost $2,199 and up, $400 more than the non-Retina MacBook with the same-sized screen.

Facebook growth slows

Facebook's growth appears to be slowing, particularly in the United States, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Unique U.S. visitors to the wildly popular social media site rose 5 percent in April to 158 million, according to data attributed to ComScore, which ComScore confirmed. That's the slowest growth rate since ComScore started tracking data in 2008. Users spent more than six hours a month on the site in April, up 16 percent from the prior year. Still, that's a slower growth rate than the 23 percent increase in 2011, according to ComScore data cited in the report.

Apple turns away from Google in new iPhone apps 06/11/12 [Last modified: Monday, June 11, 2012 9:06pm]

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