Apple’s flagship mobile operating system is about to get its annual major update later this year, unsurprisingly called iOS 6. Despite the iPhone and iPad’s huge success story, many people have criticized the lack of homescreen widgets and the same five-year-old interface ever since Android overtook iOS in terms of market share. That said, it’s clear that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs refused to listen to critics and kept the simplicity of it all - something much appreciated by fans of the company. During the World Wide Developer’s Conference back in June, iOS 6 was showcased amongst the next generation MacBook Pro. As per usual, only a few features were explained in great depth with the rest for us to find ourselves.
Here are the 10 biggest featurs of iOS 6 for those of you who missed the keynote last month.
You finally have a TomTom in your pocket. No, seriously - Apple dropped Google for its Maps app and now uses TomTom’s data for its fast-loading vector-based maps. Say goodbye to super-slow bitmap-based tiles. It features turn-by-turn navigation, highly-detailed 3D buildings (dubbed Flyover) and some Siri integration. Those three main features are only available for the iPad 3 and iPhone 4S, unfortunately.
Social networks are becoming a huge part of our lives nowadays and that’s the only direction they are heading in. No matter how hard our parents try to deny it, they are pretty much a necessity in the modern world of technology. Last year, Apple integrated Twitter ‘deep’ into iOS 5. This year - as rumoured - Facebook has joined the party. You can post pictures straight from the Photos app, update your status from Notification Centre and sign into any apps that ask for your Facebook login with just a tap - no need to type out your e-mail and password. The coolest feature, in my opinion, is that your contacts are updated with their profile picture in the Contacts app automatically so your friends aren’t dark grey silhouettes.
Safari is the only browser available for the iPhone and iPad. You might see alternative browsers in the App Store but they all use Safari in the back-end. They all boast full-screen browsing as their main selling point - something that will be deemed unspecial in iOS 6. At last you can browse the internet in full-screen when you’re using Safari in landscape mode.
You can also share the page in more ways than ever. Hit the little icon and a bunch of other icons slide upwards, allowing you to e-mail, text, tweet, post the URL to Facebook, and much more. iCloud Tabs has also been added to further enhance Apple’s life-in-the-cloud service. If you’re browsing a website on your Mac, it’s there for you to load it on your iPhone or iPad.
Revamped App Store
There’s no denying that the App Store is the best place to get smartphone applications. We have used it for over three years now and we’re getting pretty sick of it. Everyday we launch the App Store and are greeted with the same look and feel. If you want a change, you’re going to have to hold out for a little while longer until iOS 6 is available. It’s all new. Everything about the App Store has changed - from the layout of the featured section to the silver colour scheme. You won’t be disappointed. It feels a lot like the iPad’s App Store with the ability to slide horizontally through the apps and the minimal amount of information shown.
Let’s be honest - when we check out an app in the App Store, we skip past all the relevant information and jump to the screenshots. If it looks good, then we’ll see what the app is about. Apple has finally realized what we do and has made it much easier for us to view screenshots. They are now placed immediately under the app icon, followed by the relevant description. If you want to pretend you’re using the app, tap the screenshot and it will spread itself out into full-screen.
New Music Player UI
The iPhone was first advertised as a 3-in-1 device: music, internet and phone. The Music app has stayed the same for all these years but it all changed with iOS 6. Similar to the iPad, a silver colour scheme has been introduced. There isn’t much else to it other than the little volume knob changing reflection as you tilt your device. It’s really neat.
E-mailing is a far-from-dead communication tool that millions still use daily. Apple has made our lives a little more fun with the Mail app in iOS 6. Similar to Twitter, Facebook and many other apps, you must now pull down to refresh your Mail. A smooth animation is shown to tell you that it’s refreshing.
Another awesome tid-bit is the ability to insert photos or videos within the Mail app. You couldn’t do this before (ignore the Android fanboys laughing) but now you can simply by holding down and choosing the option from the clipboard menu.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you should know about Apple’s heavily-advertised voice assistant - Siri. It has been criticized for many, many reasons but that won’t stop Apple from being Apple. They’ve gone and developed Siri even further by adding even more commands. The demo at WWDC showed it understanding questions about sports trivia, booking restaurants and finding out what’s worth seeing at the cinema. What’s more, Siri will be integrated into cars from Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda, Audi and more. Oh, and it’s coming to the new iPad (as you probably guessed).
More Phone Actions
Currently, when somebody is calling you, there are only two options. In iOS 6, you can reject their call with a text message, set a reminder to call them back in an hour or even when you leave your current location.
Do Not Disturb
The Do Not Disturb feature is also very handy. You can set this to activate at any time, meaning your phone doesn’t ring, vibrate or light up when somebody texts you. You aren’t disturbed. Unless it’s someone from your ‘Favourites’ list whereby your phone acts normal when they text/call you.
FaceTime over 3G
After two long years, you can finally video call your iPhone, iPad or Mac buddies over 3G. You aren’t tied to a Wi-Fi network anymore - go out and be free while your data allowance lasts.
There you have it - 10 major features of iOS 6 that will ship later this year.
You can follow Daven on Twitter @Wundaii