Today, at their WWDC, Apple unveiled the newest generation of their mobile operating system, iOS 6. They started off with some pretty impressive stats about features unveiled in iOS 5, for instance the success of iMessage – 140 million users and over 150 billion messages sent.
In all, iOS 6 sports over 200 new features and will ship this fall, but the first thing about iOS 6 that Apple wanted to tell us is that Siri has learned quite a bit in the eight months that she’s been assisting iPhone users.
Your smarter Siri now draws on a wider range of information including sports scores, stats, standings, etc. They have also partnered with Yelp and OpenTable so that Siri can assist with finding reviews and making reservations. Siri is also a movie buff now, thanks to a partnership with Rotten Tomatoes that helps Siri find reviews, launch trailers, and more.
Siri can now help you launch apps, as well. In the next year, “Eyes Free” Siri integration will bring the voice assistant to you car. Apple says they’ve been working with numerous manufacturers on the feature.
Siri is also expanding her scope and moving to the iPad. She’s taking new languages with her as well, including Spanish, Italian, Korean, and Mandarin.
One of the biggest additions to iOS 6 is Facebook, a partnership that has been rumored following the success of Twitter integration in iOS 5. And it’s going to work a lot like Twitter integration – users can log into their accounts in the iOS settings and it will allow them to share to Facebook from many different apps like Maps, Safari, and Game Center.
It’s not just about sharing stuff the Facebook, however. Facebook has been built into other parts of iOS. It’s now a part of the iTunes store, so you can look to see what apps your Facebook friends like. All of your Facebook events will automatically appear in your iOS calendar as well.
iOS 6 also includes some new productivity features:
- New options within phone calls that allow for automatic text replys like “Can’t talk right now, I’ll call you later” or “I’m on my way.” You can also set a reminder that you received the phone call that notifies you based on a time or a location. For instance, if you don’t want to answer your mom when she calls but want to call her later, you can have iOS 6 remind you that she called in an hour.
- “Do Not Disturb” mode allows you to still receive messages without lighting up the screen or making a sound. Of course, this is perfect for sleepy time. you can tweak the settings to allow calls and messages from specific people (like your favorites list in contacts).
- You can now set up “Repeated Calls,” which will allow users to control calls from the same number within a short period of time (three minutes).
iOS 6 also brings some updates to FaceTime. First of all, it now works over 3G. Second, Apple is unifying your phones number and your Apple ID so that you can receive FaceTime calls to your mobile number on your iPad or Mac.
Two thirds of all moblel traffic comes from Safari in iOS, and Apple is announcing some enhancements to their mobile browser. First, iCloud tabs that let you resume browsing tabs on multiple devices and offline reading lists. Also, users can now forgo the saving of photos to the device to post on other sites as Safari now allows you to upload images from Safari to other sites.
Along with these improvements, Safari is also getting fullscreen support in landscape.
One really interesting cloud feature in iOS 6 is shared photo streams. They allow groups of friends to not only create shared albums and receive notifications when photos appear in said shared albums, but everyone involved can add comments to the photos.
Oh yeah, and “like” them as well. Uh oh.
If the folks you’re sharing with aren’t using an Apple device, they can view your photos on the web. People can like individual photos and make comments. And you can share as much as you want: Your shared photo streams don’t count against your iCloud storage, and they work over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
Mail on iOS 6 also got a couple of improvements, like easier photo/video uploading while composing messages and VIPs, which allow you to name any email contact as a Very Important Person. They get their own inbox and special notifications.
Oh, and you don’t have to tap the refresh message button on the bottom left anymore. Like most other apps, you can now pull to refresh within the mail client.
Apple then unveiled a new native app called “Passbook.” It is your one-stop location for all your passes – tickets, boarding passes, store gift cards, and more. Not only do your passes and cards automatically update say your flight changes or you use some of your card balance, but the app enables location-based features than will do things like bring up your movie ticket when you approach the theater or ready your Starbucks gift card when you walk in the store.
We knew that the new version of iOS was going to ditch Google Maps, but Apple has really put a lot into their new map experience
Map elements are vector based, so graphics and text are incredibly detailed — even when you zoom all the way in — and panning is smooth. Tilt and rotate to view an area, and Maps keeps the names of streets and places where they belong.
iOS 6 maps will have spoken turn-by-turn directions that can revaluate the situation and find alternate routes around traffic. They use real-time traffic info to give more accurate ETAs and incident icons will tell you the specific type of impediment that awaits you ahead – whether it be a construction site or an accident.
The all new Maps also contain “Flyover view” which create photo-realistic 3D views of big cities around the world.
Finally, Apple has improved Accessibility with various upgrades for the learning disabled and visually/hearing impaired. This includes “Guided Access” which restricts the touch input to certain areas and disables the home button (so that only one app is usable). This will supposedly aid children in staying on task.
iOS 6 will be available this fall.