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.
The average person will spend 60 hours just waiting to talk to customer support. A new application, FastCustomer, free for iOS and Android hopes to change all of that. Instead of calling up a number and waiting minutes and sometimes hours for a representative to get with you, FastCustomer will have them call YOU when they’re ready to talk to you.
As of this week, the application has already saved customers 220,000 hours of listening to some of the world’s worst elevator music and please hold recordings. TNW featured the app in a review today, too.
I’m not sure why every developer feels the need to either make a to-do app or the shittiest clusterfuck of a Facebook app. Come on people.
Last night I got a bit daring and decided to install the early beta of iOS 5 on my iPad 2. While I have both an iPhone and an iPad, I decided not to risk bricking my iPhone since I actually rely on that. I ended up uninstalling iOS 5 within a few hours. While the new features are awesome, I just didn’t really like dealing with the bugs and unfinished details. I have no doubt that when iOS 5 is released in the Fall, it will be one of the more significant releases for iDevices.
Some thoughts I took away from it:
The PC-less installation is AWESOME. The ability to set up your device without the need for a computer is great. I ended up choosing the option to restore using a previous backup which required me to plug it in, but had I chose anything else, that would not have been the case.
The new notification center is everything you expect and so much more. I found them to be unintrusive and one feature they didn’t really touch on in the keynote was that if you want the traditional notifications, they still exist.
Twitter integration really is built deep within the OS. The UI here still needs a bit of tweaking but all in all it was nice. Images I posted used pic.twitter.com as well.
MobileMe and iCloud don’t play nice together, yet. Soon, there will be a way to convert your account FROM MobileMe TO iCloud, but for now they exist seperately. I ended up creating a free iCloud account just to play around and it’s really awesome. The best of MobileMe’s sync with even less to do on your own. Some of the menus and text still looks unfinished as well.
Safari still has some bugs. I had some issues with bookmark syncing as well as the wrong pages displaying when selecting bookmarks. I think these issues are tied together and it wasn’t the end of the world.
I didn’t have a lot of people to talk with, but iMessage is a welcome addition and works great on the iPad. Since I did not install it on the iPhone, I wasn’t able to see how SMS and iMessages played together, but I assume it works seamlessly.
iTunes on the iPad looks really great. Newsstand…yeah, okay, whatever. I’m digging the reminders application though.
Like I said, my decision to restore back to 4.3.3 came down to the fact that I didn’t feel that there were any features that I couldn’t possibly live without until Fall. I’ve come to expect perfection from Apple releases and even things like text that clearly hasn’t been formatted properly or little glitches affecting the experience of an application tends to bother me. From what I saw, it’s AWESOME and I can’t wait for the official release.