Apple Bytes #2: iOS 6 Autumn Release

Once you’ve got the your Apple hardware, half the enjoyment is the software updates… No, we’re not talking Microsoft or Linux here: we’re speaking about real improvements with tangible features & benefits!

Okay, let’s presume you are not a total maverick code-monkey (software engineer) and don’t view MicroSoft or Apple as the Galactic Federation and Romulan Empire respectively, then you hopefully know by now that when Apple release a software update, it is more features & benefits than bug-fixing, AND it generally doesn’t slow your hardware down (MicroSoft?)

At the recent Apple worldwide developer’s conference, the Cupertino crowd announced the new iOS6 this autumn, thus fuelling rumours that a new phone and/or tablet will also be released in the same time frame, so as to show off some of the more ground-breaking features of the new iOS release. Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice-president of iOS software, announced the new mobile operating system, which he referred to as a “fantastic release with more than 200 new features.” iOS 6 will also be compatible with iPhone 3GS, 4 / 4S, and the iPads 2 & 3 only, so you won’t need to buy a new iPhone to get all of these features.

Well, what can we expect from iOS 6?:

  • A fresh new cartography app to replace Google Maps, which Apple developed entirely from scratch, doing all of the map-making itself. In addition to street maps, this will include ‘turn-by-turn’ GPS guidance, fully compatible with the voice-activated assistant, Siri, and it introduces a “3D Flyover” feature, that lets you fly around photo-realistic graphic landscapes. Digitised mapping & leading GPS provider TomTom, has signed a non-exclusive global agreement with Apple as its primary supplier of cartographic material. You will also be able to view, and add to, ‘Yelp’ reviews of businesses within the new Maps environment. Apple Maps also connects to a road congestion update service, so you can reduce the effect of traffic delays on your journey.
  • As with Twitter, FaceBook will be further integrated into the Apple social networking service, allowing users to read and post from within the iOS Notification Center, which has now added a “Do Not Disturb” feature. Facebook contacts & calendar info (e.g. birthdays, events etc) will now also synchronise automatically in the standard Contacts & Calendar apps. The ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature will also silence all incoming calls and alerts, and can be scheduled to switch on & off at specific times, or make exceptions to allow calls from specific people or call-groups.
  • The Messages and Phone apps are being revamped with noticeable features in iOS 6, e.g. you can now send calls straight to Voicemail and send a quick Templated text (such as ‘in a meeting’) as a reply; you can also ‘star-mark’ key contacts & groups, and view emails from just those people in a special VIP inbox – perfect for busy execs with overflowing email. It’s also rumoured that FaceTime can now be used over 3G cellular networks, as well as WiFi.
  • Voice-activated assistant Siri, has been enhanced to incorporate terminology about sports, businesses, restaurants and movies, but at this point in time, there is no confirmation that these enhancements will be extended to UK customers. It will also be used to launch apps.
  • A new travel app, Passbook, will allow you to download (and view) third party tickets, receipts and airline boarding passes.
  • New iCloud tabs will allow you to open browser tabs from one device on another with just two clicks; and you’ll now be able to get full-screen Safari, by ridding the display of all the info clutter (buttons, addresses) and just see a whole web-page. And finally an Offline Browser Reader will allow you to add whole web pages to your browser and view them even when you haven’t got a connection.
  • Both the App & iTunes Store have been completely revamped, to make it easier to find the latest music, videos, apps & books.
  • The real killer feature of the new iOS 6 though, is the 3D Flyover, which Apple has designed by actually flying over major city expanses with leading edge camera technology. The maps are vector-based, enabling fast zoom in & out with very little latency & re-rendering; if you tap on a specific building you’ll produce an on-screen information card. And you can see wireframes of individual buildings, manipulate camera angles, jump between 2D & 3D etc. Apparently at developers conference, no section of their presentation produced more gasps and itchy hand than 3D Flyover did.

Reporter: SilverFox

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