Apple released a sneak peak of its mobile operating system iOS 6, along with a beta version of the same for developers, at the company’s annual world wide developer conference currently going on in San Francisco. The latest version of the iOS introduces over 200 new features, and will be available to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users this fall as a free software update. And oh, Siri is coming to the iPad near you.
New iOS 6 features include a new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation, and a three-dimensional Flyover view (the cold cold war between Apple and Google continues thusly). IOS6 also features a close integration with Facebook – Contacts and Calendar are integrated for one, and now you can post directly from the Notifications Center, or from Facebook-enabled apps like Photos, Maps, and of course Safari. You can also “Like” content directly from the App Store and iTunes and see what your friends recommend.
Apple has also developed a set of improvements and services specifically for iOS users in China, such as improved text input and built-in support for popular Chinese services including Baidu, Sina Weibo, Youku and Tudou.
Siri supports new languages, and gives you sports scores, restaurant recommendations, and movie listings, when asked politely in well-enunciated English. Now available for the new iPad as well as iPhone 4S, Siri includes language support for English, French, German and Japanese, and adds support for Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese. Siri is optimized for use in 15 countries now. You can ask Siri to update your status on Facebook, post to Twitter or launch an app. Siri gets a new Eyes Free mode, enabling you to interact with your iPhone using just your voice.
There are more than 125 million users on iCloud, says Apple. IOS 6 introduces new ways to share photos using Shared Photo Streams. You and your friends can leave comments on or “Like” any photo in a shared album as well.
IOS gets a Passbook that lets you scan your iPhone or iPod touch to use a coupon, get into a concert or check into your hotel. Passbook automatically displays your passes on your Lock Screen based on a specific time or location, so when you walk into your favorite coffee shop your loyalty card appears and you can scan it to buy a coffee or check your balance. Passbook can even alert you to last minute gate changes or flight delays at the airport.
IOS 6 also introduces Guided Access. This new feature allows a parent, teacher or administrator to disable hardware buttons to lock an iOS device into a single app, especially useful for test taking or helping someone with a disability stay focused on learning. Guided Access also includes the ability to confine touch input to certain parts of the screen.
Additional new iOS 6 features include:
- Enhancements to Safari, such as iCloud tabs, offline reading lists, photo uploads and full screen view;
- Support for FaceTime calls over cellular networks;
- The ability to set up a VIP Mailbox, making it easier to quickly view messages from important people you designate as VIPs;
- The option to decline incoming calls with a quick message, set a callback reminder and enable a new Do Not Disturb option.
The iOS 6 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members. iOS 6 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, the new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch (fourth generation) this fall.