12 Jun Apple Throws Down The Gauntlet with iOS 6
Apple’s annual World Wide Developer’s Conference was back again this year, unveiling a host of new developments from the technology powerhouse.
While the Mac range gained a new addition and a new operating system, the focus was definitely on iOS 6, which boasted 200+ new features. The revamped operating system comes with quite a few bells and whistles, most of which will delight those with iOS devices. The new features include a more intelligent Siri, Apple’s slightly controversial Maps app, Facebook integration, FaceTime updates and new calling features among others.
Want to see what’s in store? Check out the best bits of the iOS 6 announcement below:
Good news for iPad owners! Siri will be available to the third generation iPad when iOS 6 is released to the public.
There’s quite a few new features for Siri, the most notable of which, is that the virtual personal assistant can now launch apps. Siri will also be able to be used while using apps to do things such as updating your social media networks through statuses or tweets.
Siri will also be integrated into third-party services such as OpenTable, Rotten Tomatoes, Yelp, and sports data. For example, in the demo, Scott Forstall asked Siri sports trivia, such as a baseball player’s batting average and the score of a recent game, which Siri sourced. Yelp’s integration will help Siri find restaurants near your location and provide ratings and reviews for those restaurants. The integration with Rotten Tomatoes will delight movie lovers, as you can find films and showtimes, watch a trailer and research individual actors using only your voice.
Looks like Siri will also become an essential part of your car in the future. Forstall said that Apple is working with car manufacturers like Toyota, GM, Mercedes, BMW, Honda and Audi, to bring Siri to your steering wheel (Source: Cnet). It’s all part of the new “Eyes Free” feature, which will bring you spoken alerts, without the screen lighting up. All of this will happen without you taking your hands off the steering wheel and without taking your eyes off the road through the car integration for Siri. Apple have stated that its partners would complete integration for new vehicles within the next 12 months.
Bringing more heat to the Apple Vs Google battle for OS supremacy, Apple announced a while ago that they were developing their own Maps app to replace Google Maps. While Google got in first with the update of its Google Maps service with 3D maps, Apple’s first attempt at its own Maps app is not bad at all.
iOS devices will now have access to turn-by-turn navigation that can be activated and used through Siri. Siri will speak the directions as you go, while a bird’s-eye view of the route will show you where you are at a given time. You will also get a preview of upcoming turns when two directional points are close together. This will be accompanied by a traffic view, and anonymous real-time crowdsourced incident reports for traffic problems you encounter along the way. You can also use Siri to find the nearest points of interest to your current location and how long it will take to get there.
The app also sports a 3D Flyover mode, which essentially gives you a birds-eye view of an area in 3D. The images are rendered in real time, and it seems to run quite smoothly judging from the demo. While the 3D Flyover mode is useful for getting a glimpse of where you are travelling to, or just getting ideas for where you would like to travel, any further application of this mode is still uncertain. However, you are able to rotate the vector-based map with your fingers, view traffic information and info cards, which will display important details of points of interest, which will certainly add a large amount of functionality to the app.
The Yelp integration is further seen in the Maps app, in which information about restaurants near you current location is sourced from Yelp and pinpointed on the map.
Apple’s decision to integrate Facebook into its OS will be one of the most popular features for users in iOS6.
Users will be able to login to their Facebook account in iOS6 and have instant access to Facebook in apps, the web browser and Siri. Apple have also released the API for the Facebook integration, allowing developers to easily add this access within their own apps.
The integration will allow users to pull information about their contacts (such as emails or phone numbers) from Facebook, making it easier for iOS users to keep their phonebook up to date. Events and birthdays will also be pulled from Facebook and stored on the users calendar, which will definitely be a welcomed feature.
This feature has essentially made a few existing apps redundant. From the demo, it looks like a fantastic way to keep all of your loyalty cards, ticket information and other information in one place. You won’t need to carry around multiple cards or tickets anymore, while resting easy that you won’t lose them (unless you of course lose your iOS device). The app shows a list of all your passes, which you can open to see the relevant barcodes and QR codes. The best thing about the app is that is location-based, meaning it knows what to show based on where you are, such as your Boarding Pass when you are at the airport. The demo also showed the ability of your tickets to be updated automatically through time-based events, such as if your gate number changes for your flight, it will be updated on your Boarding Pass. These alerts will display even when the lock screen is on. A particularly cool feature is the virtual “shredding” of a card when you delete it.
Great news for email power users who are receiving large amounts of emails everyday. iOS 6 will feature a “VIP” option, which alerts you when e-mails arrive from highlighted contacts you really want to hear from. This will help you read and reply to the important stuff among the large amounts of clutter in your inbox. You can also add photos directly into email after you start typing them, a handy feature for everyone.
FaceTime Over Cellular Network
Until now, FaceTime has only worked over Wi-Fi networks. However, it’s been announced that with iOS 6, FaceTime can be used over cellular networks. Whether this will be a beneficial upgrade, however, is uncertain at present. While it will be useful for those who often don’t have access to a Wi-Fi hotspot, whether or not 3G networks will be able to cope with the bandwidth requirements, and whether 4G data plans will be affordable enough is uncertain at the moment.
Apple have not yet specified the amount of bandwidth required to use FaceTime, creating uncertainty as to the viability of using FaceTime over cellular networks on the cost front.
Apple have added a couple of new features to the original function of a mobile; calling. iOS 6 will allow you to reply to an incoming call with a text message or ask to receive a reminder about the call later. You can set the reminder to come at a specific time or when you arrive or leave a specific location (e.g. home or work).
iOS 6 will also include a “Do Not Disturb” feature that will block incoming calls while allowing text messages and alerts through. This feature will also prevent the screen from lighting up, allowing you to continue undisturbed. Additionally, you will also be able to filter calls by group and set the phone to allow only the second call if someone rings twice within three minutes.
iOS 6 has been released to developers, however it is expected to arrive for consumers in the second half of 2012.
It will be available for the iPhone 3GS and later, while only the second and third generation iPads will be supported.
For a hands on look at iOS 6 check out this article on Mashable.
So… impressed with what iOS6 has to offer? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!