An Apple/Mac Roundup

I’ve had a few items cluttering up my to-do list that relate to Apple, the Mac and Mac software, and the iPhone/iPod since Macworld; time to stop procrastinating.

iPhones and iPods. The iPhone’s mapping application got a major upgrade at Macworld, and is now available on the iPod touch as well. Of particular interest was its location-finding feature that uses, rather than GPS, triangulation based on cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. MacLife tested this feature and came away reasonably impressed: “While driving, the iPhone found my location within a quarter mile about 75 percent of the time. A friend tried it in Spain and Germany and was surprised how well it worked abroad.” Via TUAW.

It does really raise the question of how badly GPS is needed if precise location-finding is not strictly necessary.

Podmaps patent application. In the same vein, and meanwhile, the Internets are puzzling over Apple’s patent application for something called “podmaps”; we’re all a bit bewildered, but here’s Electronista’s take:

Describing the creation and management of map-based media, the invention would let users subscribe to map information in the same way they do with audio or video podcasts. The implementation would see an application or service turn map data into a series of audio and video elements based on location; driving directions and other maps could be spoken aloud with a view of the map at that location as a guide. Music, ads, and other content could play in between key points, with the amount of content in between calculated by the length of the expected trip.

See also All Points Blog, AppleInsider, Blog What I Made, Slashgeo, TechRadar and TUAW. Does it make sense now?

Project Bobcat. The other big mapping news from Macworld was supposed to be Garmin’s Project Bobcat (see previous entry), which turned out to be a new version of waypoint, track and route management software, rather than something completely new and totally earth-shattering. Here’s the press release, Garmin’s Mac page, and a page from which the pre-release version of Bobcat can be downloaded. Intel-compatible and usable with any USB-based Garmin gadget, Bobcat was announced as a pre-release version, with a production version that promises “additional features … such as route editing and find by address function” by the end of the year. (We’ve heard that before.)

(See also Mac OS X Hints’s guide to converting Garmin GPS maps for OS X use.)

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Stefan notes that the Leopard version of Preview and, now, Aperture 2 both recognize latitude/longitude embedded in an image’s EXIF data: Preview shows a small map in an info window; Aperture opens a Google Maps link. Spotlight also supports searching by coordinates; Andrew Turner demonstrates and writes up a little application that plots search results on a map.