Published October 07, 2018 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Apple car play finally gets Google maps

PHOTO-2018-09-19-21-24-37 4

It has been a horrid wait. Honestly Apple's own maps has never launched in India yet. Even in other countries Apple maps never used to show things properly and they had made a fool of themselves royally. The company even fired two of its iOS executives Scott Forstall and John Browett when they refused to acknowledge the poor performance of Apple maps.

Well since those learnings Apple has been steadily trying to improve its maps division specifically for India. We do already know they are adding more and more data points day by day. They also said they are looking at about 5000 employees for their Hyderabad division since 2016.

During all this time, users of Apple iPhones readily and steadily switched back to Google Maps, and have been conveniently using it since sometime now. Of late there are lots of cars that sport either as inbuilt or custom build ICE or in car entertainment units which support Google Play and Apple Car Play like the Sony XAV which I have reviewed earlier on this blog.

With increasingly more and more people linking their iPhones to their car units, it was now important to have navigation on Apple Car Play. With neither Apple introducing their maps nor allowing Google maps app, this was simply not going anywhere in terms of a choice. Until now.

With the release of iOS 12 and Google immediately releasing their own update for Google Maps, all Car Play users can now rejoice to see their favorite navigation app on their car units. I will cover some details of the same in the sections below.

User Interface

PHOTO-2018-09-19-21-24-38 3

I must say the first time I installed and started using the maps interface on Car Play I was pleasantly surprised at how well Google maps displays on the car unit. It is sort of smaller that I would have liked it and also has a bit of candy-ish looks as compared to say its counterpart of Google maps on Android Auto, but nevertheless it is well implemented.

A simple tap on the screen brings up "Add Destination", or "Exit" or the alerts button depending on whether navigation is not yet started or already going on. The whole thing is so non intrusive. There are six options displayed under destinations

  • Recent searches

  • saved places

  • your home and work

  • it also shows petrol pumps nearby (smartly since you may need it)

  • and you can use a search option if all else fails

The search option brings up a keyboard with which you can type out few characters of your destination and the list of matching results is shown from where you can choose to start your navigation with one of them.

Rest of the navigation is as usual, it shows you the route from where you can begin to navigate at actual and it will zoom in to street level directions. At any point you can exit the navigation by touching the screen and choosing exit option. You can also move the map and bring it back to center point by choosing recenter option. There is also a settings button with which you can access settings such as avoiding tollways, etc while asking for navigation help.

I have also tried a few other things with this app on Car play which I wish to share with you. If you unplug the phone the navigation still continues with the phone and if you plug the phone back in, the car play automatically takes you to map app assuming it was the last app open. If you choose to dial out someone or receive a phone call during navigation voice guidance will still remain but the map is out of the screen. You need to bring back maps app during a call if you wish to see the map again.

The icon to access maps sits vertically on the left bar along with other icons such as music, and phone.

With this inclusion from Google, and allowance from Apple of the google maps app, Apple has finally plugged a missing piece which was necessary for using Apple car play properly - the Navigation aspect. Hopefully when Apple release their own version of maps, in the near future or so, users can get to experience the best of both worlds. Until then, its going to be Google Maps on Apple Car Play for me and I am not one bit disappointed at all.









Read More
Published October 05, 2018 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Focal Spark wireless bluetooth earphone unboxing and review


In my quest for a good pair of earphones, you will have already noticed that I experienced with many of them here and here. During this journey I chanced across a suggestion from a friend on the Focal brand and the fact they were selling their earphones at a discount on Amazon.

Since the offer was too good to resist, I purchased these online.

Unboxing video

Here is a little unboxing I created for you to understand what the packaging of the earphone looks like.


Strong points

The Focal Spark has these pros going for it

  • Very easy to wear for long hours

  • short cable means lesser tangling unlike the Samsung UFlex

  • Good sound quality - bit of muddy bass, but largely good distributions of highs mids and lows

  • Very good battery standby time - you charge it once and when you don't use it the earphones does not lose battery power too soon - this is in stark contrast to the Uflex earphones from samsung which used to annoy me during the middle of that long walk

  • Charging is quick and gives full charge that does not let you down anywhere

  • You can pair two different phones to this earphone over bluetooth at same time (which could be a boon or a bane)

Weak points

The Focal Spark like any other earphones has few cons that I noticed during my usage which I will like to point out here

  • The wire is a tad bit too short, it needs to be about 20% longer to fit better

  • The earphone is best suited for music but not necessarily phone calls, I did have a feedback that the phone calls were not pretty clear. You can check that here.

  • The earbuds are a bit tight so wearing them for longer hours means it will feel like your ears are blocked. This is exactly where the Airpods do better. They are there and not there at the same time.

  • The bass was not exactly clear and was a bit muddy. Focal has still some way to go to beat Bullets V2 by OnePlus.

  • The asking price of 7000/- is not exactly less, but right now you can bag a pair for close to 3000/- which makes it either a steal or well, unpopular as the case maybe!

  • It comes with micro usb charging which is not so 2018, but this was not such a downer for me, would have still preferred usb-C which is quite the standard these days.



In conclusion, these are an excellent pair of wireless earbuds for music purposes if not exactly phone calls. The buds have excellent battery life, and are good to hear and use. They are comfortable over long hours of wear and you just need to find an eartip of the size that suits you better. Having said that, for the current price on offer, this is a steal, and you should go for it !
Read More