SAN FRANCISCO – Apple is kicking an important Google application off its iPhone and buddying up with Facebook rather than Google’s social network, as it distances itself from a bitter rival in the phone arena.
Google’s Maps application has resided on the iPhone since Apple launched the very first version of the phone in 2007. It’s one of the core apps on the phone, and can’t be deleted by the user.
But on Monday, Apple executives said Google Maps will be replaced by an Apple-developed app in iOS 6, the new operating system for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. It’s set to be released late this year.
Apple and Google are locked in a fight over the attention of hundreds of millions of phone users, and the advertising opportunities that come with owning a mapping application.
Smartphones from companies like Samsung and Google’s own Motorola division are the chief alternatives to the iPhone, and Apple has been suing those manufacturers in court, accusing them of ripping off the iPhone’s ground-breaking features.
Apple also said it’s building Facebook into iOS 6, snubbing the Google Plus social network. Users will be able to update their Facebook status by talking to their phones, and “like” movies and apps in Apple’s iTunes store, Apple executive Scott Forstall said.
The announcements were part of the keynote presentation that kicked off Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Apple presented new features in both phone and Mac software, plus updated laptops. But investors were mildly disappointed, as they expected more substantive news, like a hint of Apple’s ambition to get into making TVs. Analysts had speculated that Apple would at least update the software on the Apple TV, a small box that connects a TV set to iTunes for movie downloads, as a prelude to perhaps launching a fully integrated TV set.
Apple shares closed down $9.15, or 1.6 per cent, at $571.17.
Apple updates its iOS software every year, to coincide with the launch of a new iPhone.
Among other updates in iOS 6, Apple’s voice-command application Siri will add a host of new languages, including Spanish, Korean and Mandarin Chinese, Forstall said. “She” will also be able to launch applications and movies, and will run on iPads for the first time.
Apple also said the new version of its Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, will go on sale next month for $20. The update brings features from Apple’s phone and tablet software, like the iMessage texting application, to the Mac.
Microsoft Corp., Apple’s competitor when it comes to computer software, is also making Windows more like its phone software, with the release of Windows 8 later this year. A key difference is that Microsoft is betting that PCs will have touch screens, while Apple is betting they won’t.
Mountain Lion will also bring dictation to Macs. Users will be able to input text by talking to the computer, in any program. This is already a feature of Microsoft Corp.’s competing Windows software.
On the hardware side, Apple showed off a laptop with a super-high resolution “Retina” display, setting a new standard for screen sharpness.
The new MacBook Pro will have a 15-inch screen and four times the resolution of previous models, Apple executive Phil Schiller said.
Apple already uses “Retina” displays — with individual pixels too small to be distinguished by the naked eye — in its latest iPhones and iPads.
On the phones and tablets, the Retina display is a standard feature. On the MacBook, it’s an expensive upgrade. The new MacBook will cost $2199 and up, $400 more than the non-Retina MacBook with the same-sized screen.
The new MacBook borrows features from the ultra-slim MacBook Air. It’s only slightly thicker, and like the Air, lacks a DVD drive. Instead of a spinning hard drive, it uses flash memory for storage. In the most radical departure from the last decades of PC design, it lacks an Ethernet port. Those who don’t want to use Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet will have to buy an adapter that goes into the MacBook’s “Thunderbolt” port.
Apple’s other MacBooks are being updated with the latest processors from Intel Corp. Apple will still sell a more traditional 15-inch MacBook Pro, with a standard display.
Peter Svensson contributed from New York.