Google Maps for iOS is back…sort of

Find my full review of the new Google Maps app over at Gadget Beats, the latest in tech news and reviews.

Google Maps, sorely missed from the latest iOS upgrade, is back in the App Store, but quickly unable to be downloaded potentially due to overwhelmed servers.

Mac Rumors broke the news with a direct link for the download, as it does not appear to be available when searching the store.

The mapping service is back with a redesigned interface and, drum roll please…voice-activated turn by turn directions!

Oh, and a personal favorite of mine, public transit directions have returned and are slicker than ever. Traffic, satellite view and an external link to the Google Earth app are also included in the new version.

It’s more of a lookalike to the built-in maps app for iPhones running iOS 6 than it is Google’s last iOS iteration or even it’s current mobile web app available at maps.google.com.

Within 30 minutes from this news breaking, the app is already unavailable, at least temporarily. Users are getting the error message “the item you tried to buy is no longer available.” No word as to why exactly it’s no longer downloading or why it wasn’t searchable right away.

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Google takes a (home)page from Microsoft

In the ever-waging wars of technology these days, it seems that Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter are king.

Each with individual attributes making them wildly successful and seemingly sustainable.

But there’s another war going on in the tech world. A war slightly less obvious, but no less important; the search war.

Search is the way of the future and beauty of digitization: as fast as we can type, we can now pull up nearly instantaneous results for our queries, whether that be online or just finding things on a computer or hard drive.

In the search engine sector, Microsoft’s Bing has been gaining some traction, differentiating with visually captivating imagery that makes Google’s notoriously simplistic look dull.

I’ve found Bing’e travel features highly effective for booking plane flights and finding good deals on hotels. Bing’s results are almost always cheaper than the competitors, whom you can compare against with the ease of a few clicks.

Not to mention, Bing recently got the “Colbert Bump” with a big charity push on The Colbert Report. Every time Stephen Colbert said the word “bing” on his show this past Monday, Microsoft’s Internet search engine donated $2,500 to benefit the Gulf Coast oil spill. The bills binged up quick, racking up nearly $100,000 in a hilarious bit that lasted through the whole show.

But more interesting than Bing is what Google announced on its official blog last week: now you can add your favorite photo or image to the background of your boring white Google homepage!

Now hang on a second…isn’t that what Bing does?

Well, it’s not a a bad idea to copy. People want personalization and people like pretty.

The white was getting a little boring, despite the increasingly frequent changes to the Google logo (like celebrating Pacman’s 30th anniversary — which, by the way, you can still play at google.com/pacman).

But hey, Bing does seem to be one of the few things that Microsoft is doing right these days, so I guess it’s the company’s turn to have someone borrow from them instead of the other way around.

I must note, perhaps for sheer irony, Microsoft’s name is never nearby when it comes to Bing. Not on “The Colbert Report” and its certainly not branding the searches (as far as I can tell).

Competition is welcome when it doesn’t make our decision-making process out of control, and lucky for Google and Bing, Yahoo!, AltaVista, Ask.com, Lycos and the rest of those forgotten ’90s memories still kind of suck.

Watch The Colbert Bing Bump HERE.

Change is more than just a buzz word

Like it or not, the future is here.

Whenever a culture evolves, the media are the first to evolve with it.

We, especially journalists, have to see what is working, what is changing and change with it. Everyone knows the new medium is online, but the concept isn’t as simple as it sounds.

It’s a migration of a physical publication to a digital, interactive, multimedia Web site that features more than just online replications of what’s in print. The print will always exist, for the iPhoneless will need something to read at the coffee shop and students will need something to pick up on the way to class.

But education is having a hard time catching up, especially many college journalism programs. From the Associated Collegiate Press Journalism Convention I attended over the weekend, I took away two key ideals: we cannot look back and professors need to start learning from students.

There are many new forms of writing that have come up in the last few years, and each one is important. Students must be able to write for print, broadcast, online, blogs , local and national. As leading newspapers are folding, local publications, online startups and semi-professional media blogs are thriving.

Well, maybe not thriving, but at least surviving. Smaller newspapers have an advantage because we market to a niche audience: no one covers the Cal Poly beat with as much effort and enthusiasm for Bronco pride as we do here – just take a look at this week’s front page (why my column is here).

In fact, The Poly Post was just awarded fourth place in the ACP Best of Show competition for four-year college weekly broadsheet publications at the new media convention. The convention hosted more than 900 college journalists in San Diego. The Post maintains student interests at all costs, differing from the public relations take of the PolyCentric articles on the campus Web site.

We provide insight, objectivity, and the ability to keep an eye on campus organizations and questionable activities. However, we are held back by three major problems: education, apathy, and resources.

Education

Our writers come in with little training, despite the numerous prerequisites we are often forced to override just to get enough support. A year of writing for The Post will help your skills more than many reporting classes, because you learn each week by writing about something new and getting out into the field.

Apathy

While student bodies at universities like UC Berkeley are infamous for their activism, commuter schools like ours face a lack of overall enthusiasm and motivation on a daily basis.

Most students seem to be here simply because they got in or because Cal Poly was close to home. The communication students don’t even seem to care about published work or their student newspaper, when these are the most critical elements for job experience.

Resources

The total editorial staff of The Poly Post includes less than 20 students, and half of us spend hours upon hours every weekend in an office that looks like it hasn’t changed since 1965.

While we broke down the cubicles just last summer, the only signs of modernism are tucked away in the three silver and black iMacs used for production. Our resources force us to work hard, but hinder our abilities to thrive in the changing generation of journalism .

We focus so much effort on the print publication you may (or may not) put your hands on each week, we’re left with little energy or time to spend on the podcasts, videos, slideshows, and interactivity we are slowly incorporating into our Web site. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to see continuous updates, like the re-launching of the Web site next quarter, news videos from broadcast journalism students at thepolypost.com/cppvideos, and online coverage of the men’s basketball team all week long as they enter playoffs.

So what are we left with? While the communication department is not completely behind the times here, the print-centric mindset still dominates and students see online as second-fiddle to what should be the priority if any of us are looking to get hired in a job(less) market that just surpassed 10 percent unemployment in California, and is leaving more than 80,000 without jobs nationally.

Does that even matter?

Most of us need to make it on our own. Journalists can no longer market themselves as simply a reporter: we have to be multimedia journalists, bloggers, designers, photographers, and Twitterers.

The systems must continue to evolve and if that means setting free a tenured department head to bring in a cheaper, younger and energetic chair, we should be looking to do that anyway. Isn’t the students’ education more important than one teacher’s job?

Professors who employ blue book writing tests should also take note: have us type our essays, and you’ll get better work. Extensive handwriting is tiresome and old-fashioned. There’s stripped-down word processing software available, so don’t think it’s not possible. There is no direct conclusion here because things will keep changing.

This newfangled technology is not something to be scared of, Luddites. It’s a testament to human ingenuity and creation that we keep inventing new ways to increase productivity and better ourselves.

My single greatest discovery at the convention was something that’s been right under my nose: Google . The mail, documents, and applications features have so much worth looking into for organizing, editing, and creating that any idiot can get savvy without sophistication.