Apple’s iOS 6: What to Expect
Apple iOS 6: What to Expect
So here we are in August, and just over a month ago on June 11 we were given our first taste of iOS 6 at Apple’s WWDC event in San Francisco. Being an avid iPhone user, I was particularly excited to see what would unfold at the event this year. I was exuberant to find lots of improvements that I was hoping for, and some that were great and unexpected. Follow along below for the full breakdown of what to expect from the forthcoming iOS 6.
In Apple’s latest iteration, Siri has gotten some serious upgrades in terms of what she can do. Siri now knows a good bit about sports. You can ask her about a specific player or team and you will be greeted with a little card with that player or team’s statistics on it. Conveniently, she can also keep you up to date with the latest scores. All you have to do is ask, preferably in a polite manner. Siri can also help you make culinary decisions. Thanks to some integration with Open Table and Yelp, Siri can show you restaurant reviews and even make you a reservation.
As if these improvements weren’t enough, she can also help you out in the film department. Siri can help you decide what movie to see by playing you a trailer or showing you reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. Another nice addition is Siri’s ability to post to Facebook and Twitter. Last years iOS 5 allowed some deeper Twitter integration. This year Apple has expanded that to include Facebook, but we’ll touch more on that later.
Some other Siri enhancements include hands-free use, the ability to launch apps by voice, and support for quite a few more languages from 15 different countries.
The Maps application in iOS has been rebuilt from the ground up, leaving absolutely no trace of Google Maps in its wake. It now uses a vector-based engine that allows for much clearer directions and more crisp landmarks and road markings.
Finally Apple has caught up to Android in mapping services by offering free turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6. Previously users had to download a 3rd party solution for this. Thankfully it is officially here in Apple form and it includes voice navigation as well as live traffic information. The new Maps application also includes what Apple is calling a “Flyover” mode which uses real 3D pictures of cities to give you a view as if you were flying over that city.
In this year’s software makeover Safari is getting a few neat tricks that many of us are already used to. Apple is introducing a feature called iCloud Tabs. This feature allows you to pull up tabs on your device that you have open on another device, saving you from having to copy a webpage address. This makes it much easier to put down your iPhone when you get home, pick up your iPad and continue reading the same article seamlessly. This should work on Safari for any of your devices.
Next up we have an improved Offline Reading List. Before, iOS devices would allow you to save webpage URLs to read later. However, you would still need a data connection to reload those pages. With Safari in iOS 6 you can now save the entire page you are reading so you can read it later, even if you have no data connection. This has been available for several years via 3rd party applications like Read It Later and Instapaper, but it’s still a welcome change nonetheless.
Last up we have full screen landscape browsing in Safari. This is a pretty small change, and unfortunately is only coming to the iPod and iPhone, so no full screen for iPad owners (for now).
Apple has changed only a few things in their Mail application this year. They have added a “VIP Inbox” that allows you to set contacts as VIP contacts that go into their own mailbox. This will be a nice feature for heavy e-mail users. Apple has also added a pull-to-refresh function that will make it a bit more intuitive to check for new mail. Lastly, they finally added the ability to attach photos and videos directly in the Mail application. This is definitely no breakthrough, as the Gmail app on Android has had this since day 1. However, we will take what we can get and move on here.
Here we have a very minuscule change to Photos, particular Photo Stream. You can now have shared Photo Streams that will obviously allow you to share certain photos with certain people automatically. From there, your friends can comment on those pictures if they feel so inclined, since we all need another Facebook to check.
Speaking of Facebook, iOS 6 has integrated Facebook support! Once you’ve signed into Facebook through the settings panel, you can share all sorts of content from your device including Game Center achievements, Photos, Map Locations, and Safari webpages. You can also set it up to sync your Facebook calendar with your iOS Calendar apps to remind you of birthdays and events. Your Facebook friends can also be synced straight into your Contacts app as well. Apple is also including the ability to “Like” apps and songs right from your device. However, the most handy feature of all is a nice little box in your Notification Center that says “Tap to Post”. This allows you to post a status to Facebook without even opening the app; Apple includes a “Tap to Tweet” box as well which should be self-explanatory.
Phone and FaceTime
The Phone application has been slightly altered on the cosmetic side. Nothing looks too outlandish here, but the real changes appear when you receive a call. Here, you are greeted with the usual “slide to answer” bar, but on the right side there is a nice little menu button that will allow you to do several things. You can answer the call, decline the call, reply to the caller with a message, or set a reminder to call that person back. This is going to awesome for business users who are in a meeting, or even students who are in a class.
Another big feature is something called “Do Not Disturb”. This nifty trick lets you suppress all incoming notifications and calls. You can set a recurring time for this to happen, or just turn it off and on at will. You can also allow calls from certain people and/or groups. In case of emergencies, you can set it to allow a call to come through if the call comes twice in a row. This whole feature is huge for me. It will allow people to just relax for a bit and not be connected to their phone at the hip.
At last, you can now use FaceTime over cellular networks and not just Wi-Fi! At least Apple wants us to think this is a breakthrough, even though Skype and other services have allowed this for several years now. FaceTime will now ring on whatever iDevice you are using. So if you are on your phone it will ring there, or if you’re using your iPad it will ring there. This is convenient and most people will enjoy the ease-of-use here.
Last but not least we have a pretty cool app that Apple has called Passbook. This application aggregates your boarding passes, coupons, movie tickets and more into one simple and easy to use place. Passbook sends you a notification if your boarding time has changed on your flight and will even remind you when that time is approaching. If you are pulling into Starbucks, Passbook will appear on your lock screen with your coffee card ready to go. This application will likely become Apple’s most useful tool to date.
Apple has stepped up to the plate this year and is hitting some home-run features with iOS 6. From the new Maps application showing their willingness to start from scratch, to the great enhancements that are coming to already great apps like Siri, Mail, Safari, and Photos. It’s going to be hard to resist buying a shiny new iDevice this fall when iOS 6 lands. At this point we can only assume it will be released with the next iPhone, but we don’t have a release date yet. In any event, we are anticipating this being a hit with almost all iOS users and are looking forward to testing it out soon. Any thoughts on this whole iOS thingy? Leave ’em in the comments below.