Apple took the wraps off its own mobile mapping service and improved the search capabilities of its Siri electronic assistant technology as it rolled out souped-up software and hardware Monday in San Francisco to help it wage war on Google.
CEO Tim Cook, who took over from late co-founder Steve Jobs last August, spearheaded the unveiling of new services to help keep Google and its fast-growing Android mobile platform at bay.
In its new mobile operating software, iOS 6, Apple tweaked a number of features to further its lead in enticing users to stay within its ecosystem. The upgrades marked a bolstering of Apple’s arsenal as it tries to keep its top-down applications and hardware environment ahead of competition from Android device makers such as Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility.
Apple will be replacing Google Maps, a pre-loaded app so far on the iPhone and iPad, with its own in-house map service, delivering a big blow to Google, which gets about half its map traffic from Apple devices.
The move signals that the friendship between Apple and Google — whose former CEO once sat on Apple’s board — is long over, and underscores Apple’s efforts to reduce its ties with Google, said Colin Gillis, analyst with BGC Partners.
Also Monday, Apple unveiled the new features for Siri, the innovative voice-activated iPhone search feature users have criticized as faulty and inadequate, announcing it is now available on iPads and recites a larger database of answers, especially about sports, restaurants and movies.
Apple also introduced new hardware, such as a new 0.7-inch-thick MacBook Pro that will employ the “retina” displays that have won strong reviews for the new iPad.
Along with the introduction of the new MacBook Pro, Apple also updated it current Mac lineup including the MacBook Air.