AWT News Update: May 26, 2015


We hope you had a nice Memorial Day (US) or Bank Holiday (UK) weekend. Here are some top stories for this Tuesday:

  • Facebook adds restaurant reviews written by professional food critics to mobile Facebook Pages for thousands of restaurants
  • The Apple facility in Mesa, AZ caught on fire today... but all damage seems to be limited to the roof
  • Marriott has an Apple Watch app for check-ins and more
  • iOS 9 may include transit service routes and navigation in the Maps app
  • A new Mac game offers auto racing for blind and low-vision users

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I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for May 26, 2015.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s looking at restaurant reviews on Yelp. They’re often written by people who had a bad experience at a restaurant and have revenge in mind, so by and large they’re only useful if you’re looking for exciting reading. Well, Facebook has just added restaurant reviews that are — don’t be shocked — actually written by professional food critics. The social networking site is partnering with Bon Appetit magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Eater, New York Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle to bring professional restaurant reviews to the mobile Facebook pages for thousands of restaurants. You might be surprised to konw that Facebook will include negative reviews if the publications provide them.

That Apple facility in Mesa Arizona appears to have caught fire today, and I don’t mean that figuratively. This is the facility that was first owned by GT Advanced, a sapphire manufacturer that went bankrupt after not being able to meet demand and quality requirements for Apple. Apple now plans to repurpose the facility as a huge global command cetner for their global data network. Well, a two-alarm fire this morning resulted in some damage to the roof of the building, with fire crews from Mesa, Gilbert and Superstition, Arizona battling the blaze for 35 minutes. It appears that the fire originated on the roof-mounted solar panels, and did not spread into the facility.

One of the first big Watch apps we heard about was from Starwood Hotels, the holding company that runs such hotel chains as Westin, W hotels, Sheraton, and Le Meridien among others. The company’s SPG app provides a way to use the iPhone and Apple Watch as a virtual door key at a number of hotels. Now another chain is providing a similar capability — with Marriott’s Apple Watch app letting you check in at the front desk with reservation information on your wrist. The app also sends notifications when your room is ready, and checkouts can be done with a tap on the wrist.

Take it with a grain of salt, but 9to5 Mac is reporting that Apple’s Maps app will be updated this fall in iOS 9 with mass transit service routes and navigation. The service will reportedly only be available for a few major cities at first — New York City, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Paris, Toronto and several Chinese cities — with Washington DC and Chicago being tapped as additional cities later on. The Maps integration will give iPhone users directions that can take into account bus routes, subway maps, and train schedules, with transit stations easily visible on maps.

And now an Accessible Apple update from our Accessibility Editor Alex Jurgensen:

Audio Rally Racing, a new audio game for the Mac, was recently released. The game, targeted at blind and low vision users, features 50 different racing circuits, 11 different cars and a vast array of sound effects.

To find out more, or to purchase the game, follow this link!

We’ll be back tomorrow with another AWT News Update.