Apple redesigned Maps

Apple unveils revamped map app with privacy at its core

Apple hopes the newly improved version of its app will woo users away from their rivals, such as Google Maps and Waze.

The tech giant redesigned Maps app has arrived.

The company said US users can now use its revamped app and Europe users will have access in the coming months as well. Apple Maps’ redesign offers faster and more accurate navigation and provides users comprehensive views of roads, buildings, parks and more. Apple outfitted hundreds of planes and cars with custom sensors and lidar, covering over 4 million miles.

Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue said in a press release that they set out to make the best and most private maps app in the world that’s reflective of the way people explore the planet today. He noted that they rebuilt the map from the ground to reimagine how Maps enhances the life of a person with privacy at its core.

In Miami, real-time transit will be made available along with the new Maps apps, in time for the upcoming Super Bowl.

Tensions between Tech Giants

In September 2012, Apple released its homegrown mapping program together with its iOS 6 mobile software. Google Maps was previously preloaded on Apple devices, but tensions between the two giants in technology led apple to make its software. Unfortunately for Apple, its Maps did not really work. Several iOS users immediately reported problems with everything from simply searching for an address to navigation.

new apple maps

Apple apologized for the issues, fired its head of software and started its work to improve its mapping app.

Since then, Apple has continually rolled out updates and new features to its Maps, such as a flyover feature to provide 3D views of certain cities, real-time transit information, indoor maps for airports and malls, and flight status updates. The revamped version of Apple Maps started rolling out in 2018, giving more detailed information and more accurate navigation. The revamped version started in Northern California and expanded to the East Coast and eventually to other areas.

Apple unveiled the more-detailed Maps app at its developer conference in June and revealed that it would be available to US users by the end of 2019 and to other countries by 2020.

Apple maps new updates

Released in September, the iOS 13 brought many other new features, including the Look Around feature that is very useful for users who want to explore major cities. It gives interactive, street-level imagery of areas like New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, and Oahu. It is quite similar to Google Street View.

Users can build shareable lists of favorite locations to visit in a city. Apple also added capabilities that make it easier for users to navigate to places they frequently visit, such as work and home.

Apple assured the users that it is focused on keeping personal information safe. Users don’t need to sign in to use Maps and the Maps is not connected to the user’s Apple ID in any way. Maps can suggest a departure time to make your appointment and other similar things using on-device intelligence.  Maps’ collected data such as search terms, navigation routing and traffic information are associated with random identifiers, which continually reset to offer the best possible experience and to improve Maps.

Apple utilizes a “fuzzing” process to obscure the user’s location on Apple servers when searching for a place. Maps converts the exact location where the search originated to a less precise one after 24 hours and doesn’t retain the history of where a user has been or what has been searched.

clinical trial technology

Drug testing could drastically accelerate with ‘Body-on-Chip’ technology

Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet, and Harvard University have developed a multiple organ-on-chip platform that could drastically accelerate drug testing. Nature Biomedical Engineering described the technology as a provider of accurate predictions of drug effects before the clinical trial.

The body-on-a-chip device simulates eight organs of the human body. An “interrogator” instrument enables the device to mimic normal human blood flow between the organs of the body. It can culture at a maximum of 10 different organ chips and sequentially transfer fluids between their endothelium-lined vascular channels.

Co-lead authors Anna Herland and Richard Novak reported the advance in two articles. Herland is an engineered in-vitro system researcher at KTH and Karolinska Institutet while Richard Novak is a senior staff engineer at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

A Clear Flexible Polymer

Organ chips are microfluidic culture devices made of a clear, flexible polymer that’s the same size as a computer memory stick. The polymer contains two parallel hollow channels that are separated by a porous membrane. Cultured on one side of the membrane in one channel are the organ-specific cells. Vascular endothelial cells recapitulate a blood vessel line in the other channel. Independently perfused in each channel are medium specific to cell types of individual organs. The porous membrane enables the two compartments to communicate with each other and to exchange molecules such as cytokines, growth factors and drugs, and drug breakdown products generated through organ-specific metabolic activities.

human vital organs

The team developed a computational scaling method in translating data, which is obtained from drug experiments involving three types of fluidically-linked organ chips to the respective organ dimensions in the real human body to predict changes in drug levels over time and organ-specific toxicity. The approach allows accurate predictions of changes in drug levels overtime for the first time as well as organ-specific toxicities that have been previously measured in humans.

Minimize the need for animal testing

Clinical trials that test new drugs for their safety and efficacy in humans continue to experience high failure rates. Current estimates say only 13.8 percent of all tested drugs show ultimate clinical success and got the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The new technology aims to overcome major pain-points in the challenging and costly process of drug development. It is also expected to reduce the need for laboratory testing on animals.

Cancer drug

Herland says the researchers looked into the exchange of lifelike blood and drugs between individual organs, while also giving a way to carry out blood sampling that would mimic blood drawing from a peripheral vein. They also studied the pharmacological effects of cisplatin, a chemotherapeutic drug widely used in cancer treatments, which is administered intravenously and displays unacceptable toxicity in the bone marrow and kidney.

body on chip technology for human drug testing for
Illustration of the human gut chip, liver chip, and kidney chip whose vascular channels are linked via a central arterio-venous (AV) fluid mixing reservoir, and whose organ-specific channels are independently perfused. Image credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.


She says the analysis nearly reproduced the cisplatin pharmacodynamics effects in patients, including a decreased number of different blood cell types and increased markets of kidney injury.

Herland says quantitative information on how cisplatin is metabolized and cleared by the liver and kidney is produced by the in vitro-to-in vivo translation capabilities of the system. The result makes it possible for more refined predictions of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity, according to Herland.