Loads of great features and enhancements were announced, including a number of improvements to their voice-activated Siri service. The third generation iPad will now be able to talk to Siri and there will be a dramatic increase in the number of supported countries/languages. You’ll be able to ask Siri for sports related stats, scores, and related facts and info, movie times with tie-ins to Rotten Tomatoes (for reviews) and gain the ability to compose tweets, listen to notifications and launch apps, just with the sound of your voice. In fact, Apple also revealed a partnership with nine major auto manufacturers (BMW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda) who will be bringing ‘Eyes Free’ Siri to their vehicles within the next 12 months via a dedicated button on your steering wheel to launch Siri without even having to turn on your phone’s screen.
Other features included full Facebook integration (much like Apple did with twitter in iOS 5) allowing users to log in once and like/post to Facebook from various stock apps like their photo gallery, iTunes library and even the App Store. It will also be integrated with your contacts and calendars.
There are a number of improvements to the Mail app as well, including per-account signatures, new VIP and “Marked” folders for keeping those important emails readily available. You’ll also now be able to add photos and videos to email messages at any time without having to do so BEFORE starting to compose the email.
The Phone app gets an exciting new do not disturb feature, to block possible distractions or disruptions to your sleep, including the ability to allow certain people or emergency calls to still get through. Another great feature is the option to respond to an incoming call with a pre-canned or new text message and be reminded of the incoming call at a later time or place?! If you are in a meeting you can tell your iPhone to remind you of the call when you leave and it will setup a geo-fence around your current location, so when you walk out of the meeting, you’ll get a reminder to call the person back. How freakin cool is that?!
Facetime calls will no longer be restricted to just WiFi, now you’ll be able to make and receive these calls while on a cellular data connection as well.
Safari gets some polish, with the ability to share information. iCloud tabs, will sync your currently open tabs with the desktop version of Safari as well as your other iOS devices. There is also a Pocket-like offline reading list feature which allows you to save full web pages for future reading.
Another big new feature is Passbook. A GPS-aware app that stores all of “your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place”. Aiming to combine a number of your currently use apps like CardStar, Starbucks and Airline apps into one native solution, with Passbook, you’ll be able to give your wallet and keychain a break, carrying less “stuff” around. Your passes, reward cards, etc will appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place, like magic (assuming you charge your phone a lot, because keeping the GPS on ALL THE TIME will certainly eat up your battery). Looks pretty neat!
Quite possibly the biggest feature in both size and scope is an all-new Map app which cuts Apple’s reliance on Google, and which probably resulted in a sleepless night for Navigation app developers, as it is sure have a substantial impact on sales upon launch.
Utilizing some fantastic looking new vector-based graphics this looks like a major upgrade from the existing maps app. Addressing the one criticism waged by the latest round of Android TV ads, the app will also feature full turn-by-turn navigation including “spoken directions, a 3D view, and real-time traffic information”. The animations and visuals look stunning, especially the photo-realistic, interactive 3D, flyover views of major metropolitan areas. Though some will complain that the app plans to collect anonymous user data, the massive install base of iPhones means that this crowd-sourced data has the potential to offer some very accurate and time-sensitive traffic rerouting data that will get you where you need to go faster and with less stress-inducing congestion.
With over 200 new features coming, you can be that Apple has held back on revealing all their cards just yet. However here are a few of the other notable features that were visible on some of the slides during the presentation: Smart App Banners, Photo uploads to websites, Game Center challenges, cross-platform Game Center game play with the Mac, photo stream sharing, custom vibrations for alerts, manual location entry for reminders and loads more.
A beta release is currently available to members of Apple’s Developer Program and the final release will be available in the Fall. iOS 6 will be compatible with the iPod Touch (4th generation), iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, (and the upcoming next generation iPhone), iPad 2 and iPad (3rd generation)…sorry original iPad owners, it appears Apple’s got no love for you.
I’m sure I’ve left something out, but you can read up more on the announced features on Apple’s official iOS 6 website.
It appears that Navigation app developers may not be left out in the cold after all, as the folks at The Verge have just reported that turn-by-turn navigation WILL NOT be supported in iOS 6 running on an iPhone 4 or 3GS (nor will cellular Facetime calls).