Apple has taken the wraps off iOS 6 and offers some big updates that iFans the world over will lap up.
First up is improved Siri integration – you can now launch apps right from the voice recognition, as well as get a wealth of information.
You can open games (which seemed to get a huge reception from the audience for a simple and slightly pointless function) as well as get sports scores (including the English Premier League) and resturant reservations.
Siri is also integrated into the car experience – Apple is working with a number of car manufacturers to have a voice-activated button on the steering wheel, known as Eyes Free.
Local search is also being extended around the world – so local information should be available for the UK too.
For this app, Apple has built a new app from the ground up, and it ‘looks beautiful’ according to the Cupertino brand.
The big new feature is turn by turn navigation, which is of course integrated into Siri to let you ask questions on the way – such as where to get petrol – as well as letting you navigate by voice.
Fly Over is another new feature, and Apple has been building a 3D photographic model of cities – ‘gorgeous’, says the iBrand – it’s the equivalent of Google Earth in Apple’s new maps app (in fact, a lot of the new features look very similar to Google’s offering).
Apple’s Maps app is all vector-based too so it’s easy to zoom in and out, and if you zoom in far enough you’ll see buildings start to appear, allowing you to get reviews, ratings and the 3D mode to see what things looks like in real time.
Apple has ingested already over 100 million businesses and integrated with Yelp to get information down to you – and like Google Maps, traffic information is placed on top to let you know what’s going on.
In a move ahead though Apple is using anonymised crowd-sourced data to help you understand what’s going on exactly too.
You can now get access to Facebook from within the iOS 6 platform, in the same way as possible with Twitter.
The functionality is integrated within the Notifications Center, which allows you to post your Facebook updates from a single swipe (and Twitter too).
The functionality will be built into Siri too, allowing you to post statuses with your voice – and Facebook will be integrated within the App Store so you can share the apps you’re into.
Facebook Events are embedded into the calendar, as well as contact integration to present email addresses and phone numbers into the phone app.
In iOS 6 new controls from an incoming call will allow you to set a reminder to call a person back or reply with a message.
If you choose to set a reminder, you can use the likes of geo-fencing to allow you to set a location to call a person – such as when you leave a meeting or head to your Mum’s house.
Another new feature is Do Not Disturb which allows you to stop your phone alerting you when you get notifications – so no sounds or screen lighting up to wake you up or irritating you.
More importantly, you can create groups in your contact list to stop the people you don’t want calling getting through. However, if they’re persistent and call within three minutes again, the call will crack through DND.
Finally for all of those people hamstrung by FaceTime and no Wi-Fi, the world is now a brighter place, as you can now access the service over 3G.
Moreover, Apple has integrated it with your Apple ID, so you can choose to accept the call (or iMessage) on another device, such as the iPad.
Device syncing is included as well – meaning you can save pages to read later and see them cached on your devices for offline reading. Plus you can now upload photos directly from Safari… we’re truly living in the future here, right?
Don’t cross the Photostreams
Apple has announced shared Photostreams to get you chucking pics across to your buddies. This means a simple selection of the friends you care about, and then sends a push notification to them.
The photos go across a web browser, on an Apple TV, Mac or other iDevice – and you can even comment on the too.
VIP Mail is also included, as we expected. This bumps your favourite people up to the status of messages, so you can see them on the lockscreen.
It’s now much easier to insert photo and video and you’ve got a flagged inbox option if you’re so inclined – and Apple has made a ‘fun new animation’ to let you get new messages.
Passbook your life
Another new feature for iOS 6 is an all new app that lets you combine all your passes into one place, allowing you to keep movie tickets, airline boarding passes and store cards in one place.
Even more impressively, the movie ticket will pop up when you enter the theatre. Store cards are also automatically updated with balances as well. Coupons and the like are also included, as well as cards for hotels and the like to help you keep all of your life in your iPhone. Scary thought.
Push notifications are also supported – get a delay on your plane, see it on the lock screen and you’re taken straight to the pass to check it.
A big change
Guided Access is also a new feature allowing teachers and parents to lock the level of use on an iDevice, allowing children to be kept on a single app or certain features to be disabled.
New privacy controls are included as well, plus separate signatures for personal and work emails. If you lose the iOS device, a message can be sent to the phone and the number on screen will be dialled automatically when tapped.
The new iteration will come to: the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, new iPad 3 and from the fourth generation iPod touch onwards.
The iOS 6 release date has been set for this autumn, which means the mooted launch for September seems well on track too.