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iPhone to get Android’s Google Street View magic

Friday, October 10th, 2008 | Gadget, Hand phone

Developers sifting through the beta files of the iPhone 2.2 software have come across three new end-user features. The most significant is Google Street View for the Maps application that taps the accelerometer sensor so that the view changes as you change the direction of the phone. It also appears that Apple bowed to public pressure an integrated a preference option to turn off the auto-correction feature. Users in Japan will get emoji icons, an important feature for all handsets sold in the country.

Google Street View was the most impressive feature at the Android G1 launch event and it appears that Apple has cut a deal with Google to bring Street View to the iPhone as well. According to the online reports, the Maps application on the iPhone will come with a new Street View option, along with the existing map and satellite views. It will combine input from the accelerometer sensor with panoramic street photos of your current location that will change as you move the handset around. Street View is available in all major metropolitan areas.

Another important feature is the addition of a preference setting that will allow users to turn off the auto-correction feature for text input. The otherwise intelligent auto-correction functionality has been driving non-English users crazy since it actually slows down text input: Users have to tap the X symbol in order to disregard a suggested term that hovers above a current word, as pressing SPACE automatically accepts the suggestion.

Owners of jailbroken iPhones can download the CToggle BossPrefs add-on through Cydia that adds the auto-correction preference option, which leaves most users out of the loop until Apple delivers a system-wide setting. The company may have decided to include the setting due to public pressure by a group of frustrated users who started an online petition. That petition has received more than 20,000 signatures so far.

The first beta of the upcoming 2.2 iPhone firmware did not excite users who were expecting substantial new end-user features. As TG Daily reported, the company is enabling turn-by-turn GPS and ironing out real push email, in addition to minor layout tweaks in Safari and the App Store.

The biggest feature should be the Notification API that would enable applications to receive notifications while they are not running – a particularly important feature for always-on applications like instant messaging clients, RSS readers, etc. The feature was introduced in beta seeds of the current 2.1 firmware, but Apple pulled the feature in the last minute without providing any explanation. An email message from Steve Jobs re-assured users that the feature was not pulled off for good. “We’re running a bit late,” Jobs wrote in the message. “We want to get it 100% right the first time.”

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