Apple took to the stage at WWDC 2012 today to announce new features in iOS 6, which will be available this fall for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch 4th generation, iPad 2 and the new iPad. While we typically focus on Android coverage, it’s always good to check out what Google’s leading competitor is up to at their annual conference. The upcoming iOS 6 update touts 200 new features, but we’ll stick to the highlights covered in today’s keynote. That includes new Maps built from the ground up, a smarter Siri with iPad support, Facebook integration, shared photo streams, Passbook, FaceTime over cellular, a better mail experience, improved Safari Web browser, and Guided Access. Read on to learn more about them.
Apple has clearly grown dissatisfied with Google’s Maps application on iOS, so they partnered with TomTom and built their own app from the ground up. It’s too early to tell how it will compare to Google’s robust Maps experience on Android, but it’s clearly a step up from the previous generation of Maps on iOS.
Maps now features turn-by-turn spoken navigation, an interactive 3D view, Flyovers, and real-time traffic updates. The vector-based Maps is said to be incredibly smooth and detailed in terms of graphics and text, even when users pan, zoom in/out, rotate and tilt. Lastly, you can ask Siri for directions and she’ll gladly transfer you to Maps and select the fastest route available.
Apple knows they have a hit feature with Siri which is why we’re not surprised to see an attempt to make her “smarter.” With iOS 6, Siri understands more languages, works in more countries, and she’s finally coming to the new iPad (sorry, 1st and 2nd generation owners). The update will allow her to look up the latest sports scores and stats, retrieve movie reviews and showtimes, and find the best restaurants nearby with detailed information.
Siri is now informed about professional and college sports, like basketball, football, baseball, soccer, and hockey. She can look up game schedules, previous scores from the current season, up-to-the minute scores from live games, player stats, team records and more.
If you’re interested in seeing a movie, Siri can look up showtimes by location, play a trailer for a particular flick, display reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, and even showoff with some trivia. For example, she can tell you: when a film premiered, who directed it, and what awards it won.
Hungry? Siri can show you a restaurant’s photos, Yelp stars, price range, reviews, and even make a reservation through the OpenTable app. Restaurants can be sorted by a combination of cuisine, price, location, or outdoor seating.
For social media enthusiasts, you can now ask Siri to update your Facebook status, post a comment on your Wall, or Tweet a message to your Twitter followers.
Apple is also working with car manufacturers to integrate Siri into select voice control systems. A voice command button on the steering wheel will allow you to communicate with Siri while keeping your eyes on the road. Your iPhone or iPad’s screen won’t even light up in an effort to save battery and minimize distractions. Call people, select and play music, hear and compose text messages, use Maps and get directions, read your notifications, find calendar information, add reminders, and more.
Finally, Siri has been given access to launch apps or games for you. That’s a feature most probably expected upon Siri’s launch, but better late than never, right?
iOS 6 finally brings OS-wide Facebook integration. Share photos from the Camera or Photos apps, post your location from the new Maps, and even ask Siri to do it for you. Facebook events are integrated into Calendar and Facebook friends’ profile information is integrated into Contacts, so all that data automatically remains up to date.
Passbook keeps your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more in one place. You can use your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. It’s also location and time aware, so it will activate when you arrive at your destination.
Other Notable Features in iOS 6:
- FaceTime now works over cellular networks as well as Wi-Fi.
- iPhone calling options: declining calls, instant reply text messages, callback reminder, do not disturb with whitelist.
- Redesigned and streamlined Mail interface with VIP list, easier photos and video sharing, and swipe to refresh mailbox.
- Improved Safari: iCloud Tabs syncs pages across iOS devices, save full pages in your Reading List, share photos/videos to sites without leaving the web browser, and full-screen landscape viewing option.
- Guided Access features are geared for students, parents, teachers, administrators, and people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities. Features include: limiting the screen for one app use by disabling the home button, restricting touch input on certain areas of the screen, VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom.
- Redesigned iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore.
- Lost mode for finding and locking your phone.
- Find My Friends allows sharing locations with friends and family.