Google Maps: Awesome App for Bus Transit Routes

I’ve always used Google Maps for navigation in the car, but now that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, I am using it for a different purpose: bus maps.

Because I wasn’t much of a bus rider before, I never paid much attention to the Bus mode on Google Maps.

Now that I’m car-less in L.A., the Bus feature on Google Maps for iPhone is a crucial tool that I rely heavily on to get around.

By simply touching the Bus icon at the top of the map when you look up directions, you bring up the suggested transit route, with information on the bus number and scheduled arrival time.

What’s more, touching the clock in the upper right hand corner will bring up a list of the upcoming bus arrivals, so that you may choose to plan a later trip.

Once you arrive, Maps will give you walking directions (if applicable) to arrive at your destination.

Highly recommended for transit-riding iPhone owners.

Would be nice to have maps for the metro rail line, though…

Google Music for iPhone is a No-Go

Google Music iPhone

Well, what do you know: Google Music for iPhone is a no-go. Google’s new cloud music service is yet another major cloud service to snub the iPhone and iOS platform, after Amazon Cloud Player recently brushed aside the iPhone in its March 2011 launch.

Can the lack of Google Music for iPhone, along with other missing services on iPhone, give Android enough of a boost to continue to eat away at iPhone’s market share?

Google Music Beta, which was unveiled today, lets you upload your music collection and play it from your tablet or mobile phone, but that does not include your iPad or iPhone.

Google Music Not on iPhone

Rather, Google Music Beta makes your music accessible on Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom, and Android phones like the Motorola Droid and HTC EVO.

The question is: can major services afford to snub iPhone and still remain popular, or is ignoring iPhone a good strategy to take down the iPhone as a leading player in the smartphone market?

Would you like to see a Google Music iPhone version?
Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments.

iPhone Facial Recognition App: Would You Opt In?

iPhone facial recognition

Google is reportedly working on a facial recognition app that would let you snap a photo of someone with your iPhone or other smartphone and identify them — including their name, phone number, email address and other personal information. While Google says they will not debut a facial recognition app until acceptable privacy controls are in place, the technology is cause for concern nevertheless.

Google says it will require users to opt in before their photos can be identified by the facial recognition app, but can we trust the search engine giant to protect our privacy? Not according to Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., who warns that our privacy rights “are being Facebooked, spammed and texted down to nothing.”

… in the face of concerns about intrusion, security and privacy, Google says, in effect: Trust us. Which raises an obvious question: Why? – Leonard Pitts, Jr. in Privacy: There’s no app for that

I, too, worry about the privacy issues that an iPhone facial recognition app would pose. Do we want to live in a world where there is no longer a need to introduce ourselves, because the people we encounter have already identified us with a smartphone app?

The advent of iPhone facial recognition technology may be closer than we think. Apple’s iPhoto already has a Faces feature that is fairly skilled at identifying friends in your photo albums, and the App Store has several iPhone apps with rudimentary facial recognition capabilities.

What do you think? Would an iPhone facial recognition app creep you out? Or is this a useful application of technology? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.

Will Steve Jobs Lift App Store Restrictions with iPhone 4.0?

App Store vs. App Market

Because of Apple’s draconian app regulations, the long app approval process, and the presence of an open-source competitor, the iPhone App Store is becoming increasingly unappealing for developers and users alike.

As a developer, you take a big risk developing for the App Store when Apple could reject your app for nearly any reason. Furthermore, Apple has a leash around its developers’ necks when it comes to the tools you can use to build an app. Sure, you can make an iPhone app, but you have to do it using Apple’s tools and you are forbidden by the Terms of Service from using private APIs or other programming languages, says one developer who claims, “Steve Jobs Has Just Gone Mad.”

Once you have developed the app, you have to put it on the slow-moving conveyor belt (i.e. the App Store approval process) and wait for it to get past all the inspectors inside. The rigid and unnecessary bureaucracy in the App Store becomes a barrier to production, and developers become frustrated. Guess where they go.


iPhone App Store Gold Rush

The App Store Gold Rush is over. Just submitting an app to the App Store doesn’t guarantee a good return on investment. The costs of finding a developer are high because the permitted programming languages are limited and the payoff for producing an app is not guaranteed.

These obstacles translate over to iPhone users, who have to wait longer to get app updates and new apps.

Android, on the other hand, is very inviting. There are many ways to develop an application for Android. The number of phones running Android is increasing. And Google does not put its foot down like Apple and police content in the Android App Market.

Slowly but surely, the Android App Market is taking over. Unless…

Apple, Don’t Let it Happen


I love my iPhone. I think it is a marvel of engineering, and I think Apple is home to amazing designers. But while the iPhone is cool, Apple is becoming increasingly uncool.

Like a good mother does for her grown-up children, Apple needs to learn to let go of its customers and developers and let us be who we are. If developers want to develop something, let them develop it. The community will decide what’s good and what’s trash. And concerned parents will set parental controls on their children’s iPhones. And the world will be merry.

On June 7, when Apple announces the 4th gen iPhone, I will be crossing my fingers to hear Steve Jobs say he is doing away with the App Store approval process altogether while improving parental controls to let people monitor content for themselves or their children, rather than Apple doing the censoring.

The Future of iPhone

The future of iPhone depends on more openness. “Open” is the buzzword these days, and people like it that way. Given a choice, I believe people will choose the most open, unrestricted and free. And in the battle between Apple and Google, Apple is not the brand most people equate with “open.”

This is not merely a competition between two companies. It is a war of ideologies, and in the end, I believe openness will prevail.

Give me Liberty, or give me Death! – Patrick Henry

Do You Agree?

Is an open iPhone a better iPhone? Will Steve Jobs do away with the App Store approval process and give users the freedom to do what they want with their devices?

Google’s Pac-Man Game Playable on iPhone

Google Pac-Man for iPhone

Did you hear? Google marked the 30th birthday of Pac-Man by changing its logo to a playable game of Pac-Man. Go to, click “Insert Coin” (button replaces “Feeling Lucky”), and get playing.

What’s perhaps most cool about the Pac-Man game, though, is that it works reasonably well on an iPhone, since it runs on HTML5. If you browse to Google on your iPhone, you’ll be directed to a mobile version. To play the game, click “Classic” to go to the original homepage.

Although the sound is missing when you play on your iPhone, you can direct Mr. Pac-Man by swiping your finger across the screen in the direction you want him to move. Is this the future of games on the iPhone? Will HTML5 and other open web standards give developers the ability to bypass the App Store altogether and create fully-featured apps in the browser?

Let me know how you like the Pac-Man game!

Update: The Pac-Man game is no longer on the Google home page, but you can play still play it at

TomTom for iPhone Review [iPhone GPS App Review]

TomTom iPhone GPS App

The TomTom GPS app is the first navigation app I’ve used on my iPhone other than Maps. With turn-by-turn orientation, voice navigation and location-based features, TomTom is a definite upgrade. But there are some weaknesses to consider before you shell out $70 in the App Store for this iPhone GPS app. Continue reading my TomTom for iPhone review to learn more.

Disclosure: This app was donated to me free in exchange for a review. Sometimes I review donated products or apps that interest me. I do my best to be fair and objective. The FTC requires that I disclose my relationship with companies, and I agree that it is important to mention.

TomTom for iPhone Review

The first thing I noticed was how much more user-friendly the maps themselves are. Rather than a small blue circle on a static 2D map, TomTom shows you a big arrow that always points forward as a 3D map orients itself below. Whereas the Maps app shows you your location from a satellite’s perspective, the TomTom app allows you to see yourself as well as the road ahead at all times.

Google Maps vs TomTom

The second basic improvement over Maps is voice navigation, which helps you keep your eyes on the road as a customizable voice guides you through each turn. TomTom supports many different languages for its GPS app, including male and female voices in English, Spanish, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Italian, French, etc.

TomTom iPhone GPS App Languages

iPhone’s default Maps app is certainly lagging behind, and the TomTom GPS app beats it in the basics. But how useful is TomTom for iPhone overall? Here are the pros & cons of this iPhone GPS app, according to my review of TomTom for iPhone:

TomTom for iPhone: Pros & Cons

Things I’ve observed while using TomTom for iPhone:


  • Turn-By-Turn Navigation
  • Voice-Guided Navigation
  • A dashboard at the bottom of the app tells you the remaining time and mileage to your destination, the distance and direction of your next turn, and information about your speed.

    TomTom iPhone GPS App

  • The map can be viewed in vertical or horizontal orientation (I prefer horizontal). The default iPhone Maps app only lets you view maps vertically.
  • Nearby gas stations appear on the map, so that you can anticipate places to refill your tank as you drive. You can also locate Points of Interest like Gas Stations, Hotels & Motels, Restaurants and Parking Garages either in your area or along your route. Like the iPhone’s default Maps app, TomTom also lets you search Google for other local destinations.

    TomTom iPhone Points of Interest

  • A music control panel can be enabled to allow you to control your iPod as it plays in the background.

    TomTom iPhone GPS App Music Controls

  • TomTom lets you avoid toll roads if you choose.


  • Entering addresses on TomTom is, quite frankly, a pain in the a**. Instead of just letting you enter the address in full, TomTom makes you set the city, then the street name on a subsequent page, followed by the house number on yet another page. That is way too many steps to enter an address. And because the city, street name and house number are entered separately, you can’t simply copy and paste an address into TomTom. This is a serious limitation of this app, in my opinion.

    Entering a destination address in the TomTom app is a 4-step process:

    TomTom for iPhone Address Input

  • No Google Earth view. TomTom offers 3d and 2d graphical maps, but it does not let you view the earth from a satellite like you can with Google Maps.
  • Steep price point. $70 is not pocket change for most people. TomTom also offers a real-time traffic service for $20 per year. If Google introduces its turn-by-turn navigation for Maps on the iPhone, then this high price could be hard to justify unless TomTom adds premium innovations to outcompete Google.
  • When you pinch to zoom out on a map, you can’t see street names on the map. Fail.
  • The clock is not visible within the TomTom app. If you have a clock on your dashboard this is no problem, but if you’re not in your car and you rely on your iPhone for the time, then you’ll need to exit the app.

What did you think of this TomTom for iPhone review? Do you use TomTom for iPhone or some other iPhone GPS app?