Version 9.3 of Google Maps is here to lead the way: lets you share directions with others

Google has updated its Google Maps for Android app to version 9.3, bringing the ability to share directions, tweaks to location settings notifications, and some bug fixes.

The most prominent feature the update brings to the table is sharable directions. This means that any application accessible through the standard share function can now accept directions, which appear as a list of instructions, something which could be really useful especially when you want to share this information with someone who doesn’t have a smartphone and/or Google Maps installed on their device.

In addition, the updated app now lets you permanently disable the pop-up that appears whenever your location settings aren’t what the app wants them to be. Aside from these features, the update also brings along a few bug fixes.

Head over to Google Play to download the update – it is currently rolling out, so it may take a few days before it reaches everyone.

Mercedes-Benz and Volvo Shows off Apple’s CarPlay integration!

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Apple has launched its CarPlay feature to give drivers a “smarter, safer, and more fun” way to use iPhones in cars. It’s clear that Apple intends for the iPhone to be the center of car electronics. And to do that, it has to own your dashboard.

Premiering at the Geneva International Motor Show later this week, CarPlay lets you make calls, use maps, listen to music, and access messages with just a spoken word or a single touch on a touchscreen. You can use the car’s native interface or push-and-hold the voice control button on a steering wheel to activate the Siri voice-driven artificial intelligence on an iPhone. That helps reduce distractions when you’re driving.

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Cars from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will premiere CarPlay to their drivers this week. Others working on CarPlay features in the future include BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota Motor.

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips, and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.”

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When an iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri can help you easily access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls, or listen to voicemails. When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri will be able to provide an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers’ messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call.

CarPlay can also make driving directions more intuitive using Apple Maps. It can anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails, or texts, and it provides routing instructions, traffic conditions, and estimated time of arrival. You can also ask Siri for spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display. You can also access music, podcasts, audiobooks, and iTunes Radio via CarPlay.

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CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5. It will debut in select cars in 2014.

Car maker Volvo was quick to post a video showing it off in action. Not to be outdone by Volvo, rival Mercedes-Benz has now shared additional tidbits pertaining to how it plans to integrate CarPlay into an upcoming C-Class.

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And just like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz is keeping its options open by not pledging exclusive support for CarPlay. In addition to its own in-car entertainment system, the company is going to support not only Apple’s CarPlay, but also Android-based in-car infotainment system when it launches later this year. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty…

According to Mercedes’s press release, Prof. Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, made it clear that his company will pursue a multi-platform approach.

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Specifically, Mercedes-Benz intends to continue to offer its existing solutions such as Drive Kit Plus, Digital DriveStyle App, COMAND Online and Mercedes-Benz apps, all putting the power of smartphone apps at drivers’ disposal.

The company showed off CarPlay integration in a new C-Class at the Geneva Motor Show. Like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz will also allow drivers to use both its own and Apple’s solution simultaneously.

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Support for Android-based smartphones will be available from the middle of the year, as soon as Google brings its own in-car infotainment system to market.

Back in January, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance, an in-car Android integration initiative which aims to replicate Google’s success with Android on mobile devices, only in your car.

Update: 

Ferrari shows off CarPlay integration with last-century resistive touchscreen tech

Apple to launch iOS in the Car next week with Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz

Nearly a year after its introduction, it looks like Apple is finally ready to launch iOS in the Car. The Financial Times is reporting that the company plans to introduce the new feature next week with 3 major launch partners: Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

Oddly enough, the Times doesn’t mention the project by name, but says that drivers will be able to use Apple’s ‘in-car operating system’ to use Apple Maps, watch movies, listen to music, make phone calls and send messages using the vehicle’s in-dash display…

Here’s more from The Financial Times:

First the mobile phone, now the car. Having revolutionised personal communication Apple now wants to change the way we drive. The technology group will next week launch its first in-car operating system with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo as it attempts to take the lead in a fierce race to dominate tomorrow’s smart cars. […]

The deal marks the first time that Apple is embedding its software in devices other than its own branded products. The choice of the Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz is seen to be in keeping with the US tech group’s high-end phones.”

The outlet goes on to say that the official announcement of the launch will be made at next week’s Geneva Motor Show. And a number of other manufacturers are expected to incorporate iOS in the Car into their 2014 models including Audi, Honda, Acura and BMW.

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Last fall, Tim Cook called iOS in the Car “an important part of Apple’s ecosystem,” and the company continues to show interest in the automobile space. SVP Eddy Cue sits on Ferrari’s board, and Tim Cook reportedly met with Tesla last year to discuss a possible buyout.

In March of 2013, Bloomberg reported that Ferrari would be broadening its relationship with Apple.

Leaked screenshots of Apple’s ‘iOS in the Car’ surface!

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Developer Steven Troughton-Smith posted several images on Twitter this afternoon of what looks like Apple’s iOS in the Car project. The screenshots don’t show the entirety of the feature, but if legit, they do offer some insight on what the Maps app will look like when in use.

For those unfamiliar with iOS in the Car, it’s an interface that deepens the integration between iOS devices and cars far beyond playing music. First introduced at WWDC, the feature will allow users to view and manage many iOS applications using their in-vehicle hardware…

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Troughton-Smith didn’t give any indication as to where he obtained the images, but it’s possible they were bundled in with the just-released version of iOS 7.1 or an earlier beta. The feature is expected to be one of the many changes and improvements made in the next iOS update.

Also worth noting is how different these screenshots look compared to the ones Apple showed off last summer, or even those on the company’s website right now. So it’s unclear if this iteration is set to be the final release version, or if it’s a barebones interface built for testing purposes.

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Tim Cook has stressed the significance of iOS in the Car in the past, calling it a “key focus” and an “important part” of Apple’s ecosystem. And many automakers have pledged to support the new feature in future car models with custom hardware including Audi, Honda, Acura and BMW.

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Apple’s website lists iOS in the Car as ‘Coming soon.’

Google Maps 2.0 for iOS is out with enhanced navigation and iPad support

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Good news iOS users! The big Google Maps update that hit the Android Play Store last week is now rolling out to Apple’s mobile platform. The update, which brings the app to version 2.0, contains a number of new features including iPad support and indoor maps.

Although Apple’s Maps application has significantly improved in recent months, many folks still prefer to use Google’s offering. And since it launched its standalone Maps app on iOS last December, users have been clamoring for an iPad version. Well, here it is…

For a while, the update was available in certain Asian countries, but it couldn’t be downloaded in the United States. In fact, the Google Maps app was gone altogether for a while.

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The Google Maps 2.0 update is now showing in the US App Store. Here’s the full change log:

– New design for iPad

– Enhanced navigation including live traffic updates and incident reports

– Explore: A new way to browse and discover popular local places to eat, drink, shop, play and sleep

– Simple 5-star ratings and reviews from friends, plus expert Zagat content

– Great deals from your favorite brands with Google Offers

– Indoor maps with walking directions for malls, transit stations, airports and more

If you haven’t yet, you can find the new version of Google Maps in the App Store, for free.