WWDC: For iOS
This is a 2-part article series. This second part covers what has been announced for iOS 6.
At their World Wide Developer Conference today, Apple announced iOS 6 with 200 new features. A beta version is available today for registered developers and will available to consumers in the fall. Below I’ll do a brief rundown of the new features.
The Maps app has been updated with a new icon. It seems the leak we saw last week was correct. As far as we know the app itself is completely new. It seems as if Apple has built something totally new, and Apple dropped Google as the Maps provider, using a proprietary service using the maps technology and talent they acquired previous to WWDC. They are also utilizing Tom Tom and Waze for turn-by-turn directions.
The new Maps interface has the silver theme. Features includes spoken turn by turn directions, crowd sourced information about traffic, construction, and accidents. It likely will not include information about red-light cameras and police traps. One of the biggest features in the new Maps is called Flyover. Flyover is a very impressive 3D maps view. When the iPhone first received satellite maps it was very
impressive; this is the next generation of that. Flyover looks phenomenal (at least in screenshots we’ve seen) and includes the polish which has become almost a feature in Apple products in itself. You will also be able to zoom in very close on businesses and streets, and the maps app will show restaurant reviews from Yelp on any zoomed-in restaurant.
One sad note, not every iOS 6 device will be getting all of these great features. Specifically, turn by turn directions and Flyover will only be available on the iPhone 4S and on the iPad 2 and later. This means that the original iPad, all the iPod Touches, and all iPhone earlier than the 4S will not get these features. Turn-by-turn directions seems like a feature that should be added to the iPhone 4 at least, if not all of iOS 6. Why they aren’t spreading this farther is unclear.
Apple demoed a few new Siri features in iOS 6, but those added features were some of the most heavily demanded from users. Siri can now give you a variety of sports stats covering basketball, soccer, football, baseball, and more. You can get the latest scores and stats of teams, individual players, and even odd bits of sports trivia.
Siri in iOS 6 allows you to check out reviews and reserve tables at local restaurants using Yelp and the Open Table app respectively. This means as soon as you find that fancy restaurant for a date, you can immediately check for any open spots and reserve your place. You will also be able to look up movie reviews through Siri using Rotten Tomatoes reviews. You will be able to search movies by your favorite directors, stars, genres, and look at when these movies debuted or will debut. It doesn’t look like you will be able to
pre-order movie tickets through a service like Fandango however.
Siri will also be expanding the languages it understands to include Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Swiss-French, Swiss-German, and more. This is great because you will now be able to update your Facebook status and tweet directly from Siri. A feature long wished for has finally been added. But the biggest addition to Siri is the ability to launch apps. Just tell Siri to launch Angry Birds, and you’ll be playing Angry Birds in no time. This is great for those with a lot of apps scattered about on their device.
Apple also is bringing about a feature called “Eyes Free”. It is a feature that will be integrated with cars to allow you to control your iPhone through Siri. The screen will be shut off while connected to the car, and Siri will announce whatever news is coming your way, text messages, who is calling, and directions to your next location. I think that this is a great safety feature and I’m glad to see Apple adding this. Currently, BMW, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Chrysler are on board with this according to Apple.
Oh, and Siri will be able to run on the iPhone 4S and the new iPad (third generation).
Apple has really embraced some of the ways people are using the iPad. This has been especially true for those with some form of disabilities and how they use the iPad. Guided Access is a new app from Apple that allows users to control access to certain areas of an app. A controller user, such as a teacher, can turn on Guided Access and prevent access to the Home Button and limit touch and motion controls on the iPad. They will also be able to circle areas of an app on-screen. Whatever is circled will not be accessible to other users of the iPad. This means that a teacher could prevent a child from accessing settings or accidentally exiting the app. Apple talked a lot about autistic children when showing off this feature, and this really does target them and allow parents and care workers to help these people.
COMMUNICATION: MAIL, PHONE, AND FACETIME:
Apple is updating its communication apps with several nice new features. iOS’s Mail app has finally added a flagging feature, allowing you to flag important messages. I use this feature a lot on the desktop to help me keep up with important emails that need responses or that remind me of things I need to take care of us. You can now setup a VIP Mailbox in iOS Mail, allowing you to only focus on emails from certain groups, companies, and people. This makes it easier to sort through email and get work done without having to constantly flag emails from certain people.
Apple has updated how you decline a phone call. When you decline a call now, you get the added option of set your iPhone to remind you about the call at a later time or to send a quick text or iMessage to the caller. These messages can be manually typed out or you can use a premade message. And while we’re talking about calling, Facetime can now be used over WiFi and 3G connections, a feature that has been on Android phone and other video chatting services for a long time.
Apple also has included a “Do Not Disturb” feature. You can set your iDevice to not notify you of any emails, Twitter updates, or any other notifications during a set time period. This was demoed as a feature for getting through the night with a good rest. Apple also said, however, that you will be able to set certain contacts that will be able get through this barrier, meaning you won’t ever miss a phone call or message from your child, boss, loved one, etc.
There’s one more note though about all of this. Facetime and iMessage all work through your Apple ID, which has caused problems if a person didn’t have your Apple ID,and instead only had your iPhone’s number. Problems included messages and calls not syncing across devices, or certain messages showing up only on your iPhone. Now, Apple is integrating your iPhone’s number with your Apple ID, meaning your Facetime calls and iMessages will always be synced across iPhone, Macs, and other iDevices.
Apple has worked to make Safari even better. Your open tabs from Safari on iOS to another of your iOS devices and/or Macs with a feature called Cloud Tabs. You can select these from a new iCloud icon in the Safari menu. Apple drastically improved their Reading List feature; instead of just saving the links to
your web articles, now it saves the website for offline reading. And Safari can go into a special full screen mode when your iPhone or iPod Touch is held horizontally, letting you save precious screen real estate.
FACEBOOK & PHOTO STREAM:
Last year, Apple integrated Twitter with iOS, allowing you to tweet almost anything from anywhere. This year, Facebook integration is coming to iOS 6. You can update your status, share links, and show off your photos without launching the Facebook app. Likewise, your Facebook events and friends’ birthdays can be integrated with your Calendar, and your contacts personal information can also be added directly. If this integration is like Twitter, you will have to have the Facebook app already installed on your iOS device.
Photo Stream is adding the ability to share Photo Streams with others. Just select the photos from your Photos app and anyone running iOS 6 or Mountain Lion will have that picture in their Photo Stream or iPhoto app. I see potentially a lot of great family albums and a few embarrassing moments being shared. And Apple has said that if you want to share these with people who aren’t using Apple devices, they will be able to see them on the web.
Passbook was an interesting feature announced by Apple. Since Google Wallet was announced, people had been speculating about whether or not Apple would release a similar product, dubbed iWallet. While Apple didn’t announce anything with that, they did show off Passbook. Basically, you can store your coupons, loyalty cards, passports, movie tickets, and more in the app. Then you can use it to scan these items in a checkout line, in an airport, etc. But the app does more than storage; it also updates when your flight terminal changes, your coupons expire, and help you locate your seat in a theatre, as well as checking the balance on your money cards. And using your iDevice’s location systems, the app will show the appropriate tickets or cards on the lock screen based off the time and your location. I must admit that I wasn’t impressed at first glance, but I can see this as being a very useful app, especially for travelers. That being said, there seems to be no indication that you can add your credit or debit cards to Passbook.
Apple has also included a few minor improvements as well. Apple has already talking about integrating more Chinese services into iOS for its Chinese consumers. Chinese users have an increased library of character, Baidu support for web searching in Safari, and other social networking features.
Improvements to the iBookStore, iTunes Store, and the iOS App Store also have received some revamping. Each of these stores now remember your preview history of songs, books, and other media, allowing you to quickly re-find them for purchase later. You can start shopping on one iOS device and continue the purchase on another. Lastly, the stores had a little visual refresh to show the hottest content in a Cover Flow-like system.
iOS 6 seems to be giving users a lot of features they’ve been asking for, though some of it seems like Apple is playing catch-up to other apps and operating systems. We’d like to hear what you are most excited about. Please leave a comment below or hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Thanks!