Apple’s 23rd WWDC just yester day brought quite a few things along with it, the least exciting of which was not its latest software update. Yes, the much speculated about iOS 6 is finally here and it brings with it an astonishing 200 new features! Some of these, like Maps, were expected long before being actually revealed yesterday and most of the rumours regarding both iOS 6 and Apple’s conference were right on the mark.
iOS 6 will be compatible with the following devices, once it’s released for the general public:
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPad 2
- New iPad (iPad 3)
- iPod touch (4th Gen)
Here are some of the more exciting features that iOS 6 is bringing with it:
Apple’s desire to replace Google Maps by rival company Google with its own is no secret and the Cupertino company finally did it yesterday. What was surprising was just how aesthetic and overall great the app turned out to be. Clearly the acquisition of the company C3 Technologies has a lot to do with how the app has eventually come to be, completely revamped and rethought. The app also has Siri integration now which is convenient since you can speak to it when you need directions, say. There are two modes; you can view maps in either 2D or 3D. A new Flyover feature shows off gorgeous 3D interactive imagery. The sharp look of the maps is due to Apple itself having done the cartography. Turn by turn navigation, built in Yelp integration and real time incident reports are also present and there is nothing to suggest that the Maps app is anything but beautiful and complete, at least till iOS 6 is rolled out. This is a huge blow to Google, of course. Not only are Google Maps no longer on all those iOS devices but Apple will probably also pull away one too many developers with this feature.
This is not the only blow that iOS 6 has rendered to long time rivals, Google. Chinese consumers will see that the increasingly popular Baidu has replaced Google Search with iOS 6. This is not a result of Apple being merely petty but is a result of Baidu becoming the preferred engine in the world’s largest market.
When iOS 5 was revealed to the world, Twitter integration was amongst the features most appreciated by users. Consequently, the need for a native Facebook integration was felt strongly and many tweaks and third party apps tried to rectify this. Well, there is no need for that anymore since iOS 6 has fixed the issue and introduced Facebook integration. This is expected to be similar to Twitter integration but one major improvement is also present. In addition to sharing and liking the usual, users will also be able to ‘like’ apps present in the App Store or iTunes.
Siri has often been viewed as something amusing rather than actually useful. iOS 6 changes that with Siri now more useful than ever before and in more ways than one. Sports fanatics can now ask Siri for live scores of soccer, basketball and baseball as well as any other sports related piece of information. Where only US citizens enjoyed asking Siri to suggest places initially, users in more than 60 countries can now do so. The suggestions themselves have been vastly improved. Siri mentions restaurants etc with more detail now and Yelp integration, like with Maps, is also seen and enables you to find nearby businesses. Likewise, cinema suggestions have also been enhanced and users can read a Rotten Tomatoes review of any movie before picking one to watch. Users can also ask Siri about actors and directors etc as well as watch movie trailers. Siri can finally also be asked to launch apps and tweet on Twitter. Support for a few more languages has been added.
Apple is also partnering with companies like Audi, BMW and Mercedes for a hardware button to launch Siri in cars! Apparently a feature called ‘Eyes Free’ will allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road and still talk to Siri and this will be seen within the next 12 months.
Updated Phone App
Since the iPhone, at its most basic, is a phone it has a Phone app too. And this has been changed a lot. With iOS 6, users will be able to screen calls. However, if someone keeps calling like crazy their call will be let through, smart and useful especially if someone is trying to reach you in case of an emergency. The Phone app will also allow users to set up their phone number or Apple ID on an iPad or Mac as an alternative, and then receive calls and messages on one of those instead. A few neat features like making your phone remind you to call back and rejecting a call with a text have also been incorporated.
Siri Availability on iPad (3rd generation)
Siri has remained exclusive to the iPhone 4S, at least officially, since release. It now seems that this exclusivity has come to an end. iOS 6 brings Siri to the latest and greatest iPad, ending iDevice owners complaints at only iPhone 4S users getting to enjoy Apple’s personal assistant. Siri looks much the same on the iPad’s 9.7” screen, the only change being most of the background being visible when Siri is activated.
Updates for Stock Apps and OS-wide Features:
Apart from the native Phone app, other welcome changes have also been made. One major overhaul is the ‘freeing’ of FaceTime. Apparently, users will no longer need to be connected to Wi-Fi to have a FaceTime video chat. All that’s needed is a cellular connection which is great news.
Safari now supports full screen mode even in landscape orientation. You can also save anything to your Read It Later list and view it later, offline. Whatever tabs you have open in Safari can also be synced to iCloud, so you have access to them anywhere.
You can now choose specific people from your Contacts to receive VIP treatment on your phone as well. Texts and emails from these ‘VIPs’ will have a prestigious highlighted spot right on the lockscreen and you can even create a whole new separate inbox for them in the stock Mail app.
A shared photo streams feature has been added, allowing users to share photos with just about anyone without having to rely on a specific social network and using just their Apple ID instead.
A ‘Do Not Disturb’ toggle allows users to switch off all alerts and notifications with a single swipe.
Mail has also been updated; users can now ‘Pull to Refresh’.
A new QR based app, Passbook, will allow users to keep all important personal data and cards in a virtual data and even use them virtually! The app generates QR codes for movie tickets and passes and membership cards, even. Subsequently all you need to do is pull out your phone to use these in real life.
Guided Access, especially useful for autistic children like Apple itself says, has also been included. This will allow users to lock an app when it’s in use, disabling other controls. Even pressing the Home button will not exit the app.That also makes this ideal for use in the classroom.
Developers can head over to the iOS Dev Center right away and get their hands on iOS 6, before the rest of the world.
As for what the keynote brought to us, except for iOS, well, there was no new iPhone. That is not to say that only software updates were seen. A MacBook Pro was released – the first ever with a gorgeous Retina Display. A host of Mac OS X improvements were also announced at the event.