Today at Apple’s WWDC keynote, far and away the most exciting product announced has to be refreshed and replenished mobile operating system. The days of iOS 6 are upon us, and the platter of 200 new features Apple is serving up is more than enough to make any fanboi’s mouth water.
Up until now, we’d swallowed down a hearty rumor stew, complete with trusted source claims, leaked beta sites, rumors, and pure speculation. We’ve more-than expected Apple Maps, iCloud features, and Facebook integration, but the rumor mill had taken us further than that, with hopes of Siri APIs, Siri for iPad, and even deeper customization, with live apps not unlike the live tiles seen in Windows Phone’s metro UI.
So which dreams came true, and which will be left for later generations of the software?
All that after the break (and I’ll be updating as the announcement is made so be sure to hit refresh).
New Siri Abilities:
- Siri pulls in sports info from Yahoo, allowing you to get game updates.
- Sports include Football, Baseball, Basketball, and possibly more. Those were the sports demoed.
- Siri has also gotten better at restaurant/Yelp integration, offering average price per menu item, reviews and Yelp rating.
- Siri has also partnered with Open Table, offering a tab to make reservations, which takes you to the Open Table app.
- Siri also partnered with Rotten Tomatoes to watch trailers, etc.
- You can ask for “movies with Scarlett Johansson” or “movies playing at the HERP DERP theater.
- And the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Siri can launch apps. Simply say something like “Play Temple Run.”
- Siri will also let you Tweet by voice.
- Siri may come packaged nicely in a button on some car’s steering wheels. Brands include BMW, GM, Land Rover, Audi, and Honda, among many more.
- Siri is now available in English, French, and German. Japanese will roll out next, with Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese to follow after.
Some Thoughts: The fact that Siri is tapping into other apps to launch, and playing so nicely with Twitter leads us to believe that Siri APIs aren’t far off, even if Apple doesn’t announce them today. That’s clearly the direction we’re headed in.
Siri for iPad:
- Siri is now available on the iPad.
- You can access Siri by hold-tapping the home button on the iPad.
- Siri only takes up a small portion of the bottom half of the screen, popping up with rounded corners and the same blue linen finish as on the iPhone version.
Some Thoughts: We always knew Siri would make her way over to the iPad. We just didn’t know when. But alas, today is the day. Unfortunately, most users report that their main tasks for Siri involved placing a call or setting a reminder. Email, which should come in handy on the iPad, seems split down the middle with around a quarter of users saying they email with Siri daily, and another 30 percent saying they don’t use Siri for email at all. That said, watching how people use Siri on a tablet rather than a phone should prove interesting.
- Facebook is now a baked-in part of iOS
- Just sign-in once through settings and everything is set up
- You can share photos, links, maps, iTunes links, and Game Center content.
- Maybe and RSVPed Facebook Events are automatically added to Calendar
- Birthdays, too.
- Phone numbers will appear in Contacts list.
Some Thoughts: Facebook and Apple have always shared a happy relationship. But with Tim Cook’s loaded “stay tuned,” at D10 this year, we more than expected a marriage between the two companies.
Considering that it was beneficial for Twitter to be baked in to iOS 5 (with three times the sign-ups), Facebook will surely enjoy getting in on that fun.
Plus, Facebook won’t have to spend as much time, energy or resources on its Facebook app as usage will slowly be divided between the app and the operating system. Win for everyone.
New Phone app:
- The app will set a reminder to call someone back if you don’t want to pick up when they’re calling.
- You can choose to send a message instead of pick up the call.
- Geo-fence feature allows you to be reminded to call someone when you leave a certain area.
- DO NOT DISTURB feature: Lets you tell your phone not to bother you with alerts or badges. Messages come through but there is no alert paired with its delivery.
- A little like Mail VIPs, the DO NOT DISTURB feature lets you assign certain contacts to let through during DO NOT DISTURB mode.
- Two calls in a row will be sent through, in case of emergencies.
FaceTime over Wireless:
- FaceTime has long been a WiFi-only experience, but iOS 6 brings it to wireless status.
- You will have a unifying phone number and Apple ID for FaceTime, as well as Messages.
- It’s unclear if the service will be available for all carriers.
- iCloud Tabs will work in Safari only. (Duh.)
- The feature does not automatically synchronize browser tabs at all times. Instead, it offers a synchronized list of tabs open across all iDevices.
- The feature is exclusive to OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6.
- Safari in iOS will add an offline reading list.
- You’ll be able to upload photos straight from Safari.
- Smart App Banners will let people know about your native app in the App Store.
- Shared photo streams: “Choose your photos you’d like to share, choose the friends you’d like to share it with, and you’re done.”
- Commenting is built-in.
- Available on Mac, Apple TV, and via web.
- The feature essentially offers you a way to “star” email correspondents that are most frequently contacted or “very important people.”
- You can insert a photo or video from the Compose field.
- Mail VIPs will not be pushed to the top, but rather be starred off in chronological order among other inbox contents.
- Mail VIPs will be hooked into iCloud, meaning that all VIP Contacts will be synced across devices.
- You’ll have two extra inboxes: VIP inbox and a flagged inbox.
- Mail will also support opening password-protected Office docs.
- Get all your passes in one place, including boarding passes, tickets, and coupons.
- It works with other apps that make natural sense, like the Starbucks store app or various apps to buy movie tickets with.
- Brands include Starbucks, Fandango, United, Amtrak, and Apple Store of course.
- Shows gate changes, account balances, etc. as pop-ups on lock screen.
- Guided Access allows you to lock an app when it’s in use so that other controls won’t be accessible.
- Apple claims that lots of autistic children are flocking to their devices. This allows them to learn without wandering elsewhere on an iPad or iPhone.
- Not even the home button can exit the app while Guided Access is on.
- Ideal for the classroom, making sure students are testing or studying instead of gaming or cheating with Safari.
iOS 6 Maps:
- Apple has given Google Maps the ax, opting to use their own in-house system.
- Maps has over 100 million local businesses listed upon launch.
- The app integrates with Yelp, just like Siri!
- Apple is building a traffic service to show incidents and general traffic conditions in a certain area.
- The traffic feature will use anonymous crowd-sourced data from iOS users to stay real-time and up-to-date.
- Hoorah! Turn-by-turn navigation is in the works.
- The Maps app will offer real-time ETA thanks to that crowd-sourced traffic info.
- Maps works from the lock screen, and also plays nice with Siri.
- Siri can find certain venues, like say a gas station, for you on your way to somewhere, making sure that the gas station is en route to your desired end-destination. She’ll also answer every parent’s favorite question: Are we there yet?
- Maps will have a beautiful 3D mode, which users can toggle on within the app.
- Flyover lets you hover above your intended route to see the perspective from an airplane or helicopter.
- You can rotate and zoom, or simply tap on a place in 3D mode to learn about it.
- Turn by turn navigation voice brought to you direct from Siri.
- The icon for the Maps app has changed to pin Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop headquarters, and also has a tad different coloring than the original app icon.
- Apple did all the cartography themselves, which explains the snazzy look.
Some Thoughts: Huge blow to Google. Huge. And not just because Apple would be pulling iOS out of the hands of the search giant’s navigational hands, but because Apple would likely pull millions of developers away with it. A baked-in Maps system is always more attractive than a third-party system.
In the words of MG, Google Maps could suddenly go from behemoth to vulnerable.
- iOS 6 will be supported on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS.
- iOS 6 will be supported on the iPad 2, and the new iPad.
- iOS 6 will be supported on the fourth-generation iPod touch.
- No word on Apple TV support.
- Coming this fall.