Apple hosted its 23rd annual WWDC event a couple of days ago, and, during the main keynote, it unveiled its 2012 line of Macs, the new OS X Mountain Lion desktop operating system, and most importantly, the company’s next major mobile operating system update, iOS 6.
We’re going to quickly show you the main iOS 6 features today, as they were announced on stage in San Francisco, after which we invite you to answer our poll – are you impressed with iOS 6?
The virtual assistant introduced in iOS 5 and available exclusively on the iPhone 4S until now will come to the new iPad starting with iOS 6. Siri will get a variety of new features including advanced sporting events and movie support, OpenTable restaurant reservation integration, app launching support, Twitter support, Eyes Free car integration and support for 15 languages. Furthermore, Siri local search will be available in any country, not just the U.S., and the virtual assistant will also be involved into Apple’s proprietary turn-by-turn navigation (more on that later).
iOS 5 came with deep Twitter integration but Facebook was left out of the picture at the time. Starting with iOS 6, the same kind of deep integration will be available for Facebook too, letting users basically share links and photos, like stuff and update their statuses from pretty much anywhere in the OS. Facebook is now integrated with Notification Center, Contacts, Calendar and Siri but also with Apple’s digital content stores.
The Phone app, the basic feature of any smartphone, has been updated in iOS 6. Instead of simply answering or rejecting a phone call, iPhone users will be able to reply with a message or set a call back reminder in case they can’t pick up the phone.
Do Not Disturb is a new iOS feature that will help iPhone and iPad users get a good night’s sleep without being awaken by notification alerts. The app lets you customize which calls should be allowed to go through, and silences the device for calls or texts from anyone else during the previously set up “Do Not Disturb” time frame. Repeated (emergency) calls will go through if the caller calls within three minutes from the last call.
FaceTime, Apple’s own video chat application that currently works only via Wi-Fi will also work over cellular starting with iOS 6. Furthermore, the users’ Apple IDs – needed to make purchases from iTunes and use iMessages – and their phone numbers will be linked, therefore a FaceTime call or an iMessage can be answered either on the iPhone, or on the iPad and/or Mac starting with iOS 6.
Safari has also been updated. Starting with iOS 6 users will get access to iCloud Tabs, which will let them see any of the opened tabs on other iOS or OS X devices and Offline Reading Lists, which will let users access web pages even when a Wi-Fi or data connection is not available. Other features include uploading pictures directly from the Photo app to any website and getting app download suggestions related to the pages Safari loads (Smart App Banners). The later feature also lets users switch between Safari and that particular app in case the app is already installed on the device, and continue browsing inside the app from where they left off. Full screen support in landscape mode for the iPhone is also coming in iOS 6.
Shared Photo Sreams is a new iOS 6 feature which will let iOS device users share images with their friends that are also using iOS devices or Macs. The feature has some limited social networking features, as friends will be able to post comments on the pictures they’re sharing.
The Mail app has also been updated to include new features. One of them is VIP – marking certain contacts whose emails are important for you as VIPs. Once enabled, VIP emails are easier to find, and once they’re pushed to the iOS device, they appear right on the screen just like a text message notification. A VIP and a Flagged mail box will also available inside the Mail app.
Moreover, iOS device users will be able to insert email and video right inside the compose window starting with iOS 6 and open password protected documents right on the device.
Passbook is a new Apple app that collects all the passes, store cards, boarding passes, movie and other tickets into a single place, which will then be available straight from the lock screen of the iPhone.
Guided Access is a new iOS 6 feature that will let users customize the way other people can interact with their iOS devices. With Guided Access, children will be prevented from hitting certain elements on the screen, or even to lock them into a single app mode. The single app mode can be particularly useful in certain institutions, such as museum, schools, and others, where iPads can be used for specific purposes.
Maps is probably one of the main changes that iOS 6 proposes. As previously rumored, Apple decided to do away with Google Maps, which has been the default mapping tool for iOS devices so far, and replace it with its own proprietary maps app. The Maps app comes with local search support, Yelp integration, traffic service with incident reports, 3D maps support with satellite view and Flyover, and turn-by-turn navigation with Siri integration (which works from the lock screen too).
Apple only demoed 10 of the 200 new features that are going to be available in iOS 6 once it launches. The new operating system will be available at some point this fall, probably when the sixth-generation iPhone hits stores. Until then, developers already will have access to the various beta version of iOS 6 – the first one is already out. iOS 6 will be compatible with existing iPhone models starting with the iPhone 3GS, iPad models starting with the second-generation iPad and with the iPod touch 4G, although some of the new features will not be available across all devices.