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Tech News Weekly Round-Up 13 July 2011

Google Maps 5.7 for Android gets Transit Navigation

Google Maps 5.7 for Android includes a significant update in the form of Transit Navigation (beta). Now, users in over 400 cities around the world will get to enjoy turn-by-turn and stop-by-stop navigation for public transit systems. The feature is perfect for when you’re traveling and you can’t read the signage or don’t understand the language, and it’s difficult for you to decipher your next stop.

Transit Navigation uses GPS to determine your current location along your route and alerts you when it’s time to get off or make a transfer. Keep in mind, however, that since GPS connection is essential (as it is with all navigation), the service works best on above-ground transit. This means that traveling on certain public systems (underground) may result in interrupted service or no service at all.

And just as before, Navigation will stay active even when you open other applications or kill your screen and put your device in your pocket. It will display notifications and vibrate to notify you of any inflections in your route.

Along with Transit Navigation (beta), Google has also added a few convenient, yet admittedly less significant, updates to the app. The Navigation icon now appears automatically when you’re pulling up directions, whereas previously, you had to enter your destination, hit Go, then find the bright blue arrow. This change means one fewer tap to activate turn-by-turn navigation. Search suggestions are now more powerful, displaying icons and suggesting previous searches when relevant. And finally, a nifty photo viewer has been built into Google Place pages, giving you a slightly improved browsing experience.

Google Maps 5.7 is available now for all Android devices running OS 2.1+

Facebook Vibes revealed as Facebook music service

Facebook’s rumoured music service could be called Facebook Vibes. The name was spotted in the new Facebook and Skype video calling feature, but will that be the service’s final name, and how is Spotify involved?

The reference was spotted in the code for Facebook video calling by software developer, open-source hacker, Jeff Rose, who wondered whether Facebook video chat used his installed Skype or installed a second copy.

The code seems to be preparing to download Vibes at a later stage. It’s not clear whether the music service will be called Vibes.

Facebook is rumoured to be working on a music service with Spotify, which would fit with Mark Zuckerberg’s policy of getting partners like Skype to integrate features into the social network.

Now is certainly the time to strike. With Amazon’s Cloud service launching in the US and with Google Music in Beta, and don’t forget the Autumn-bound iCloud, there are more than enough music streaming and storage options to choose from. And with Google Plus set to jeopardise Facebook’s dominance, throwing music into Facebook’s imminent plans certainly makes sense.

Apple iPad 3 to launch as iPad HD?

It appears that Apple is launching a third-generation iPad later this year and will be called the iPad HD.

The slate will sport a high definition 2048×1536 resolution panel and will be marketed as a ‘pro’ model, with versions of top-end software such as Final Cut available for the tablet.
If the iPad HD does come to fruition, it will give Apple a sleek new model to sell in the run up to Christmas.