Google has released a downloadable map app for iOS though Apple’s iTunes App Store. The app will compete with Apple’s navigation solution, ‘Maps’, which received widespread criticism despite clocking up 200 million downloads since it’s launch in September alongside the iPhone 5 and iOS 6. The app release comes 2 months after Apple removed Google’s mapping app from being a default feature of iOS based devices.
Google’s app boasts industry standard features such as turn-by-turn navigation for both vehicle and pedestrian based routes as well as vector based maps which negate the need for constant data downloads; ideal for travelling through areas with no or patchy mobile reception. The app also enables users to access Google’s popular ’street view’ services for checking out routes on street level enhanced with real photos. Google also provides a programmable API for third party developers looking to make the most out of the app’s extensive set of features. Google’s app will not work alongside Apple’s voice recognition software, Siri, which allows iPhone users to demand directions from Apple’s own navigation solution.
As news outlets such as www.thinkabledigital.com have reported, since launch, Apple’s Maps app has been subject to poor reviews with complaints ranging from misspelt street names to dispensing dangerous directions to Australian drivers. The troublesome launch was uncharacteristic of Apple and prompted a public apology from CEO Tim Cook. The head of the iOS software team, Scott Forstall, was also dismissed shortly after the release of iOS 6.
The news of Google’s app’s approval comes only months after Apple decided to stop Google technology from driving the navigation experience in Apple products. This decision stemmed from a dispute between the two tech giants with Apple disagreeing with Google’s plan to generate revenue by incorporate adverts within the software. Following this, Apple decided to create its own mapping application in order to cut off their dependence on the Google product. Downloads of the app have been impressive, with the app hitting the top spot of Apple’s iTunes chart just hours after its release.
Google’s Maps application is available through the iTunes App Store free of charge. Only the iPhone platform is currently supported but iPad users are able to run this in 2X mode.
According to a report recently published by the Office of Compliance (OOC), harassment complaints and complaints about hostile work environments are rising on Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill offices are not required to keep personnel records, provide training aimed at reducing discrimination, or even protect whistleblowers – despite being responsible for legislation that forces both private employers and other government agencies to do exactly that.
The Office of Compliance, which is responsible for monitoring workplace conditions and issues at Capitol Hill, has found that over the past few years a growing number of staff members are seeking counsel on how to resolve problems related to discipline and harassment.
The report is not all bad news; safety hazards are down, but with the OOC identifying weaknesses in important areas such as harassment and discrimination, this will seem like cold comfort for many of the affected employees.
The OOC is also responsible for mediating between parties involved in workplace disputes at Capitol Hill. In fiscal year 2010, it received and handled 105 requests for counseling and 86 requests for mediation. Whilst the substantial figure does not necessarily bode well for employees at Capitol Hill, in many ways the system for dealing with complaints operated by the OOC is an excellent model for workplace mediation.
As a first port of call, the OOC offers a counseling service to employees who file a written request. The counseling period normally lasts 30 days; during this period, an OOC counselor discusses the problem with the employee concerned and informs him or her of their rights under the law.
If an employee chooses to continue with a claim after the counseling period expires, the next step is to request mediation. The mediation period lasts a further 30 days, unless all parties request an extension. The OOC appoints a professional with the appropriate mediation training to meet with the parties and seek a solution for the duration of this period. If the parties involved are unable to settle their differences under the guidance of the independent mediators, the next step will be an administrative hearing or civil action.
As far as most employers are concerned, workplace mediation provides a preferable alternative to seeking a conflict resolution in court. Whilst a harassment case in court is costly and damaging to the reputation of an employer, it is also a stressful experience for the employees concerned. According to a spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol, the growing number of requests for counseling from employees in her department is partly because it “encourages its employees to use this additional resource to help them resolve workplace issues.”