Last September’s WWDC gave us iOS 5, along with the much-adored Siri. This year’s event was almost as eagerly anticipated as the previous one, owing to the fact that iOS 6 was expected to be announced in the keynote. Almost all the speculations have proved true, and we indeed know all about the next update of iOS now. Not only has Apple announced iOS 6 at WWDC 2012, the event has also heralded the release of the new MacBook Pro and a host of Mac OS X improvements. However, the highlight of the keynote was, arguably, the announcement of the 200+ new iOS 6 features and the release of iOS 6 Beta for developers. As is the norm, Apple has released a few apps to go with the new iOS update, but apart from those, the stock Maps app and Siri seem to have undergone the most changes. Head past the break to get a summary of all the features announced to be coming to your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with iOS 6!
Before we get down to business, let us list all the devices that will support iOS 6.
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPad 2
- New iPad (iPad 3)
- iPod touch (4th Gen)
Surprisingly, the original iPad has been ignored, while iPhone 3GS has been lucky enough to make it to the elite club of iDevices once again!
Moving on to the major iOS 6 features announced today, here is everything that is sure to get you daydreaming about the moment when the latest version of iOS leaves beta and comes to your iPhone.
- Siri Improvements: If the iOS 5 version of Siri was more of a plaything than something useful, iOS 6 really has made it a personal assistant in every sense of the word. Siri is now sports savvy, and you can ask her for any sports-related piece of information, or even live scores of soccer, basketball and baseball games. Users in over 60 countries can now ask Siri to suggest places (a feature hitherto unavailable outside US), and the suggestions themselves have been enhanced. The restaurant and other eating places are mentioned by Siri in greater detail now, and come with Yelp integration. Similar improvements have been made for cinema suggestions, and you can get Rotten Tomato reviews of any movie before deciding to watch it.
Siri will now be able to launch apps (both stock and third-party), and a new feature named Eye Free will add a Siri button to several cars, so you can talk to Siri while driving. Oh, and did we mention that Siri is coming to the new iPad? Yep, that’s the new iPad only – sorry iPad 2!
- Facebook Integration: The Facebook integration in iOS 6 is slated to be pretty similar to iOS 5’s Twitter integration, with one huge improvement. In addition to sharing photos, web links and locations, you will even be able to like apps in the App Store or iTunes, so that your friends become aware of your choice and taste in apps. Of course, contact syncing is going to be available as well.
- Phone app: Several much-needed changes have been made to the stock Phone app (an iPhone is a communication device, after all). Thanks to iOS 6, users can screen calls (a feature that is smart enough to let a call through if the caller is persistent enough, as in emergency situations). You can also set up your phone number and Apple ID on an iPad (or Mac) to receive your calls and messages there instead of the iPhone. Beyond that, Apple included a few useful features (apparently borrowed from Android, or as the fanboys would claim, but definitely done better in Cupertino) like rejecting a call with text message, or telling your phone to remind you to call back. These call back reminders can even be location-specific, so your phone will buzz you to return the call as soon as you leave your current location! Now that’s smart!
- FaceTime: Works over cellular as well now, rather than just Wi-Fi!
- Do Not Disturb: Turn off all alerts and notifications with a single toggle.
- Shared Photo Streams: Without having to rely on a social network, users can share photos with anyone in real-time by just specifying their Apple ID.
- Safari: The iOS 6 web browser supports full-screen mode when you go landscape! In addition to that you can save anything for offline viewing in the browser’s own Read It Later lists. The opened tabs on your desktop’s Safari can be synced with iCloud now, making it possible to carry your desktop Safari’s current state anywhere with you on your phone.
- VIPs: Not all your contacts are treated as equals in iOS 6. You can choose certain people for the VIP treatment. Texts and emails from them will be given a highlighted spot on your lockscreen, and you can even create separate inboxes in the stock Mail app for them. Also, all message threads (not just VIP ones) now support pull to refresh.
- Passbook: This QR-based new app will allow users to keep all their important personal data and cards in one virtual wallet. The app automatically generates QR codes for your movie tickets, boarding passes, deal cards and various other membership cards, and you just have to whip your phone out to use them in real life. Of course, the usefulness of such will largely be determined by how many services choose to support it, but it’s a cool thing to have anyway!
- Maps: Apple has really taken Maps to the next level. The app has been completely revamped, integrated with Siri and supports local searches in great detail. The best feature, however, is the 3D mode that has been added to the available maps. You can watch places and buildings in full 3D, and the app is intelligent enough to switch between view types based on the zooming level. You can ask Siri questions about locations, and even pose an outright route-planning query. Just like the places suggestions in Siri, Maps have also been integrated with Siri. There’s so much more to Maps, that you’ll have to see it to believe it!
We are aware that the list does not cover all the 200+ features, as promised by Apple, but these are all the major changes that are coming iOS’s way in the near future. We’ll keep you posted with updated information as and when it surfaces.
If you’re a developer, head over to the iOS dev center to download the beta and take the new and improved OS for a spin.
Update: iOS 6 Beta 2 is now available as both a separate download and OTA update. You can jailbreak both the first and second beta release using this guide.