At today’s WWDC keynote, Apple took some time to demo the exciting new features of the latest release of what they dub the “world’s most advanced mobile operating system”. With hundreds of new features, changes and improvements expected when the software is released this Fall, Apple highlighted some of the major changes we can look forward to.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Apple ditching Google and they confirmed it today, releasing their own in-housing Maps application (and custom cartography). In addition to Apple-designed maps, the application now supports turn-by-turn directions (thanks Siri) as well as crowd sourced traffic updates and something called Flyover, a beautiful 3D view of large cities around the world.
Siri Gets Smarter
Many people forget that technically, Siri is still a product in beta. Apple has been working to improve it’s ability to recognize speech but also what the personal assistant can help with. Some improvements coming with iOS 6 include powerful support for sports, movies and restaurants. Ask Siri how tall your favorite basketball player is, what time a new release is playing and where to go for a great steak (based on Yelp reviews).
As with Mountain Lion, Facebook is now integrated directly into iOS. Post directly to Facebook, sync your contacts and calendars and see what apps, movies, songs and TV shows your friends are downloading.
With iOS 6 comes a new native application from Apple called Passbook. Now your boarding passes, movie tickets, rewards cards and coupons are all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card.
One of the most “neglected” apps of iOS has been the phone application, seeing no real changes in any of the releases. Apple has added a few convenient features to the phone application . Now, when a call comes in you’ll be presented with more options than just to answer the call. You can choose to quickly reply with a message (including some pre-made messages from Apple) or set a reminder to call the person back later.
A new feature, Do Not Disturb can be used to suppress all incoming calls and notifications. Enable it manually or schedule a recurring time, like after 10:00 p.m. on weeknights. Or allow calls from your favorites or specific contact groups.
Mail sports some cool new changes including something known as Mail VIP. You can now specify important contacts and be quickly notified anytime they email you. All mail from VIPs will now also be collected in a separate inbox. There’s also a new inbox for flagged messages. Finally, you can now easily insert photos and video from directly within mail, swipe up to refresh and yes - each mail account can now have its own signature.
iCloud Tabs can keep track of your open tabs and share them with your other devices. You can now open a page on your Mac and continue viewing from your iPhone or iPad. Apple’s Reading List can now also be viewed offline giving you media rich content even if you’re not connected to the internet.
With hundreds of new features, Apple only had time to demo a few. Other changes you can expect in iOS 6 include greater accessibility control such as the ability to limit how people can interact with an application, the ability to lock an iPad down to a single application and support for those with disabilities. Refreshed App Stores, new settings for Chinese users, improvements to Find My iPhone are just some of the things you can expect when iOS 6 is released sometime this Fall.