Apple Inc. Unveils Own Mapping System and Much-Improved Siri

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook unveiled the company's own mobile mapping service and improved Siri voice assistant during the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on Monday, June 11.

The new features such as in-house mapping, Apple’s take on Google Map, a much-improved Siri software, and the address-bar search on its Safari browser are aimed to keep at bay in the fast-growing Android mobile platform and to entice users to stay within the ecosystem.

But the highlight of the conference was the debut of Apple’s new mobile software–the iOS 6–dubbed as the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.

It comes with a mapping system “built from the ground up,” said software chief Scott Forstall.

It is set to replace Google Maps, which until now is a pre-loaded app on the iPhone and iPad. With its own in-house map service, Google will lose half of its mobile map traffic which comes from Apple mobile devices.

The move signals a “healthy” war between Google and Apple Inc. as the latter will do its utmost to reduce its reliance on the former, said Colin Gillis, analyst with BGC Partners.

“What happens if one day Google decides to not provide Apple with maps. You can’t have that kind of dependency on a competitor,” he said.

Apple’s map service comes with three-dimensional images of cities called “Flyover” along with real-time traffic updates and also turn-by-turn navigation, the last a feature that Google has in Android devices but had not made available in Apple devices.

And Siri, the innovative voice-activated iPhone search-feature users have criticized as faulty and inadequate, will now also be available on iPads and recites a larger database of answers, especially sports, restaurants and movies.

Siri is also integrated into the new mapping service so users can ask for step-by-step directions.

Finally, executives said Apple has integrated No. 1 social network Facebook deeper into the operating system, allowing Siri-users to post photos with voice commands.

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