iOS 6, the latest generation of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, is released for download today, writes technology blogger Dr Thomas Hartley of the University of Wolverhampton .
In preparation for the release we thought we’d take a look at some of the new features.
There does not appear to be any revolutionary improvements in the upcoming update to the iPhone and iPad operating system; instead Apple is offering many small enhancements that will improve the overall user experience.
First of all iOS 6 includes Facebook integration. You will be able to post messages, photos, URLs and your location from within your apps. For example, you will be able to share a photo from within the camera app and post your location from within the Map app. You will also be able to make Facebook posts directly from Siri.
I feel one of most useful aspects of Facebook integration will be the inclusion of Facebook events in your Calendar and your friend’s Facebook profiles in your Contacts. For example, you will see your friend’s birthdays and events you have agreed to attend.
New Maps App
Maps will replace the current Google Maps based app in iOS 6. The new app will offer more detailed maps, turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic updates. Its most eye catching feature is flyover, which gives users an interactive 3D view of major cities. You will be able to rotate, zoom and pan around many city landmarks.
The Google Maps app is a much loved and used; its removal may be seen as a step back by many users. For example, the new Map app will not include an equivalent for Street view, a Google maps feature that many people use on a regular basis to explore locations. If you are a heavy user of the current, Google based Maps app you may want to consider delaying the upgrade until you know if the new app suits your needs.
Improved Phone App
iOS 6 also includes a revised phone app that adds a number of enhancements. For example, when you receive a call you can now decline it with a text message reply saying that you are busy or set a reminder to call-back the person later. There is also a new do not disturb option that suppresses incoming calls and notifications. You can also set your iPhone not to silence calls from a list of favourite contacts or repeat callers.
It is also worth noting that FaceTime, Apple’s video calling feature has been updated to work over the cellular network as well as Wi-Fi.
Improved Mail and Siri
The Mail app has been redesigned with a more streamlined interface that includes swipe down to refresh your mail inbox. However, the most significant addition to Mail is the VIP inbox. This feature allows you to put all messages from important contacts in one place so you do not miss anything. Furthermore, this feature is iCloud enabled so if you set your VIPs on your iMac or MacBook they will also be set on your iPhone and iPad.
What else is coming?
We have reviewed some of the key new feature in iOS 6; however, there are many more new features coming. These included enhanced Siri functionality. You will be able to ask Siri about sports, movies, restaurants and launch apps.
It is unclear if all these Siri feature will make it to the UK; however, you should be able to ask Siri about Premier League football. For example, you can ask about results and when the next game of your favourite team will be.
Other new features include sharing your photo streams with selected friends and Passbook, which is an app for your virtual store cards, boarding passes, tickets and coupons. There is also an update to Safari that includes a feature called iCloud tabs. iCloud tabs keeps track of all your open tabs on all your devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac, MacBook, etc.). This allows you to start browsing a web page on one device and pick up where you left off on another device.
iCloud tabs is a handy feature; however, it is worth noting that it does not look like Safari 6 will be coming to Windows, therefore Windows users will not be able to take advantage of this ability.
In the next blog we’ll take a look at the new iPhone 5, which hits the shelves on the 21 of September. In the mean time you can see Apple’s latest keynote on iOS 6 and iPhone 5 here.
When I have been using iOS 6 for a few days I will let you know how I am getting on and what features I am finding most useful.
What iOS 6 feature are you most looking forward to?