At WWDC, Apple unveiled what could be the most noteworthy new iOS update in recent years. Along with a vastly different Maps app and deeper Facebook integration, iOS 6.0 includes 200 new features and upgrades. Here’s our look at some of the changes coming to some of your favorite native apps.
The Maps app no longer uses Google Maps. Instead, Apple is using technology from Poly9, Placebase, and C3 Technologies. Additionally, the new Maps app features turn-by-turn navigation from TomTom.
What sets the app apart from previous versions is the inclusion of 3-D maps. Unfortunately, like iOS 6.0 itself, this feature isn’t yet ready for prime time. As part of the first iOS 6.0 beta, in fact, finding 3-D maps is like trying to find Waldo in London’s Olympic Stadium on the first night of the summer games, as they simply aren’t there yet for most locations.
Still, many of the much-advertised Maps features already look impressive including the new mapping elements, which are vector-based.
Additionally, we’re already in love with the app’s turn-by-turn system, which is light years ahead of TomTom’s own set of iOS apps.
On the downside, Maps, in its current form anyway, no longer includes walking maps. Whether this is a permanent omission or simply a beta snafu remains to be seen.
We’ve long criticized Apple over their voice assistant. However, Siri does indeed get much smarter in iOS 6.0. Best of all, it is coming to the new iPad too.
In particular, we’re impressed with Siri’s new Open Table integration. Now, reserving a table at your favorite restaurant is truly as easy as talking into your iDevice.
Also, Siri is now well schooled in sports. Finding the latest scores and stats for your favorite teams and players is so simple, you’d think you had, wait for it … an assistant in your pocket!
We were also impressed with Siri’s ability to find movies nearest to our location, as well as the details Rotten Tomatoes provides for each movie, which includes links to trailers.
Siri also does a great job at opening apps, both native and third-party. For example, when we asked Siri to “open Instagram,” the free photo app opened immediately and with no problems.
Additionally, we found sending a tweet using the voice assistant was a carefree process, as was updating our Facebook status.
One of our many gripes with Siri initially was its inability to understand commands. We’re happy to report that this too is much improved. Even with background noise, the service seems better able to understand what we are saying.
Technically speaking, iOS 6.0 and Facebook work well together. Regrettably, we’re thinking many will find this coziness at little bit too friendly.
You can now connect with your Facebook family in a number of different ways. These include using Apple’s own Camera app to send a photo, or posting your location through the Maps app. Additionally, Facebook events are now right there in the Calendar app. Contacts and Game Center are also Facebook approved.
What if you aren’t on Facebook? You’re out of luck as there is no way to turn this integration off.
For iPhone 4S and new iPad owners, FaceTime will soon work over a cellular connection and not just through Wi-Fi. After testing this on an AT&T iPhone 4S, we can tell you it works as advertised. Still, like almost everything else that utilizes cellular data, we’re concerned about how this might affect our data usage. On this, the jury is still out.
With iOS 6.0, users will finally be able to share groups of photos with a select group of users. Additionally, you’ll also be able to choose to make your collection available for anyone or as a private collection through iCloud.com.
With iOS 6.0 beta, this feature isn’t yet activated although the component parts are there. We’ll keep you updated.
For the first time since the first iPhone arrived in 2007, Apple’s native Phone app has received a significant makeover. With iOS 6.0, users are able to send text messages to someone who just called, but you can’t talk to at that time. Three canned messages exist for this purpose, each which can be customized.
I’ll call you later.
I’m on my way.
Phone also includes the Do Not Call feature, which suppresses calls and notifications immediately or according to a schedule.
For example, you can use this feature so that only your favorite contacts can reach you after 11 p.m. each night.
Finally, the Phone app in iOS 6.0 includes a slightly different Phone keypad, which we’ve shown above.
We were most impressed with how easy iOS 6.0 makes it to attach photos or videos to new messages. This is accomplished by double-clicking within the body of the text and then selecting: Insert Photo or Video. Additionally, you can also use this same window to set a quote level within your message, which is another super tool.
Meanwhile, with the VIP Box you make sure emails from your most important contacts are kept in a central location. You can also set custom alerts for new VIP mail in Notification settings.
Apple’s native Web browser includes a number of new features, each of which will make your mobile surfing experience much easier and enjoyable.
Chief among these is the Offline Reading List, which now includes full articles not just links. Plus, iCloud Tabs show you which pages are opened across your iDevices, including your iPhone, iPad and Mac (with OS X Mountain Lion installed).
Finally, Safari’s new full-screen landscape mode makes reading articles on your iPhone that much better.
You wouldn’t think changing the look of the App Store, iBookstore, or iTunes Store would mean much to the overall mobile experience, but it does. Apple’s refresh of each of these native apps is stunning. In particular, the info page for items looks less cluttered than it did in previous OS versions. The main screen in each app will remind many of what iTunes looks like in OS X, as it is organized into different sections, each which can be explored by going back and forth with your finger.
Other highlights of iOS 6.0
Apple’s Music app, at least on the iPhone, is somewhat changed in iOS 6.0. Now, the interface is gray and white, and looks very similar to the Music app for iPad in iOS 5.0.
Additionally, Find My Friends now can alert you when your friends reach a certain location, as it now uses geo fencing. This is especially nice for those with kids.
Just downloaded a new app to your iDevice? Now these apps are noted with a “new” banner across its icon on the Home screen.
Finally, Find My iPhone now includes a new Lost mode. Now, if your iPhone goes missing, you can send a message to it for whoever found it with directions on how best to contact you.
In addition to the new features mentioned above, iOS 6.0 also comes with the new Passbook app, as well as with new accessibility features. These will be discussed in future articles here at AppAdvice, as will other iOS 6.0 features we discover. In particular, Passbook is being overlooked for now since it doesn’t work in the iOS 6.0 beta.
Overall, we’re loving the iOS 6 beta, although we aren’t too crazy about all the Facebook integration. Still, Apple has definitely cooked up some nice features for the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad.
Note: Keep in mind, iOS 6.0 is currently being tested by Apple and by developers using the first in a series of betas. Between now and the time the public version of iOS 6.0 is released, changes to some or all of the features may occur. As per usual, we’ll keep you updated.
What new features are you most excited about seeing in iOS 6.0?