Apple fans had plenty to get excited about at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference, including new hardware announcements and additional details about OS X Mountain Lion.
An array of new, concrete information about the forthcoming iOS 6 also provided plenty to anticipate. Due in autumn 2012, iOS 6 has loads of new features – here are just some of the most significant.
Apple’s new Maps feature will replace the Google Maps functionality currently integrated into iOS.
Maps looks typically beautiful for an Apple app and offers a 3D view as well as turn-by-turn navigation, something never before made natively available on iOS.
While some users may miss Google’s StreetView functionality, in all other respects this looks like a significant improvement on the older Maps app.
Siri will be able to launch apps, understand more languages and integrate with various websites including Yelp and IMDB. Despite plenty of users seeing Siri as little more than a gimmick, it is clear that voice control remains part of Apple’s ongoing strategy.
Apple’s iOS 6 will finally offer proper Facebook integration, something that has seemed strangely lacking in the past and is, for many, far more useful than the long-standing Twitter integration.
Facebook integration will allow users to share photos more easily and, finally, sync calendars and contacts with the social network, something Android users have been able to do for ages.
Facetime over 3G
It remains to be seen how well it will work, but under iOS 6 it will be possible to make Facetime calls without being connected to a WiFi network.
This has been possible over Skype for some time, and often results aren’t so great – regardless, this is now supported – and Apple would be unlikely to have enabled this without confidence that it will work well.
Passbook is a brand new app that allows users to electronically store tickets and coupons on their device. It even has advanced features such as the ability to update aircraft gate numbers in real-time on stored plane tickets.
The success of this will be determined by third-party participation. Cynical users outside the USA may remain unconvinced initially, as new things like this often begin with far more support for US users than those in other countries.
Upgraded Phone Features
iOS 6 adds a couple of useful phone features that users of other phone brands may have already begun to take for granted. One is the ability to reject calls and at the same time send a preset message such as “in a meeting, will call you back.”
The new mobile OS also provides users with the ability to mark certain numbers as important, so that calls from those numbers come through even when the iPhone is set to “do not disturb” mode.
New stores for iTunes, Apps and iBooks are due with the release of iOS 6. These are not yet complete but are likely to impress – after all, Apple will want to ensure their millions of users find parting with their cash easy and enjoyable.
iOS6 appears to be a rather more exciting upgrade than the previous move from iOS4 to iOS5. Now everyone knows it’s due in the autumn, the only remaining question is whether it will come before or after the iPhone 5.