Google Rolls Out Time-Traveling Maps
Today in international tech news: Google Street View now has time-traveling function; schoolchildren are smuggling iGoodies from Hong Kong to China; Apple's Asia numbers drive huge quarterly revenue; and Megaupload tries to unfreeze its Hong Kong assets.
Google has launched a new feature on Street View that enables users to browse through images dating back as far as 2007, as well as images from different seasons and at night.
Street View users have long pined for the ability to look at shots from the past, according to Google Maps Street View Director of Engineering Luc Vincent. How neighborhoods used to look. How natural disasters affected scenes on the ground. That sort of thing.
Google denotes the ability to tinker with time with a small hourglass in the upper left-hand corner of a Street View panorama. Clicking the hourglass brings up a thumbnail of past images; a timeline allows users to move through time.
The overhaul bumped Street View's trove of imagery from about 6 million miles to 12 million.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Kids Smuggle Goodies From Hong Kong to China
Schoolchildren from China who commute to Hong Kong for classes are being used to smuggle Apple products into Mainland China, according to Hong Kong newspaper The Standard.
Over Easter weekend, customs officials found a handful of iPhone 5s handsets, iPads, Samsung Galaxy smartphones and more being toted by kiddos, according to the newspaper. A week prior, more than 50 smartphones and a dozen iPads were recovered from students' backpacks.
More than 15,000 kids make the trek from Shenzhen to Hong Kong every day to go to school. While iPhones and iPads are not as exotic in China as they once were, it is up to 20 percent more expensive to purchase items in China than Hong Kong.
[Sources: The Standard]
Apple's Asia Numbers Help Drive Huge Quarter
Apple generated revenues of more than US$45 billion over the previous quarter -- the most ever for a non-holiday quarter, according to CEO Tim Cook.
The solid quarter was fueled in part by huge sales in Japan -- where revenues grew 26 percent year-on-year -- and Greater China -- where revenues grew 13 percent year-on-year. (Greater China includes Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.)
Revenues for Greater China hit a record $9.8 billion, aided by Apple's deal with China Mobile to carry iPhones. (That deal isn't yet yielding such positive results for China Mobile.)
Apple, however, is not sitting on its laurels in the Middle Kingdom: Cook revealed that the company plans to triple the number of Apple stores it has in the region over the next two years.
Megaupload Sues to Unfreeze Hong Kong Assets
Megaupload, once the world's preeminent file-sharing sites, has asked a Hong Kong court to release millions of dollars in assets.
Megaupload's assets were frozen by Hong Kong authorities, who were heeding a request from the U.S. Department of Justice, which claims Megaupload was responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of copyright infringement. Megaupload was registered in Hong Kong.
The move is part of a long-running campaign by Megaupload to restart its servers, allowing users to reclaim data that has been unavailable since the site was seized in early 2012.
The company waited two-plus years to file this request while a U.S. court considered whether or not Megaupload users could get their data back. Alas, the court has not addressed the issue since 2012.
There is concern that the servers storing said user data could be eroding, according to a lawyer for Megaupload.
Indeed, some data already has been wiped away: A hosting provider in the Netherlands repurposed servers allocated to Megaupload after the Dutch outfit was unable to secure payments.
U.S. authorities are seeking to extradite Kim Dotcom, the German-born founder of Megaupload, and three of his colleagues. The quartet is currently in New Zealand; an extradition hearing is scheduled for July.