What’s new about iOS 6?
Apple has done what Apple does best and released a new version of something. The iPhone 5 is being rolled out along with the latest generations of the iPod Touch and iPod Nano, and to work alongside that Apple has released its latest OS update. So what does iOS 6 have that’s brand new and sparkly, and is it worth all the fanfare?
You’ll never be lost again. Actually, maybe you will.
One of the biggest overhauls on the new OS is that of Maps. Previously powered by Google, Maps is now a completely Apple designed product, and the claim is that it is smoother and more detailed than ever. It now brings turn-by-turn navigation, something that has been lacking from iOS, with the directions spoken to you en route. This will essentially turn your iPhone into a Sat Nav that, if done right, could cause problems for Sat Nav apps on the App Store.
Flyover is another new addition, allowing you to view cities and landmarks from the air, kind of like an aerial version of Google’s Streetview. This looks very nice, especially on the New iPad’s retina display, but it’s not likely to provide any real benefit.
However, there have already been problems reported with Maps, with users complaining of incorrect results being returned, some places being totally unavailable, and an inability to recognise spelling variations. This will no doubt be ironed out in the future, but it’s still frustrating having such a buggy product when Google’s service was pretty spot on.
Not such a Siri sausage
Siri, Apple’s voice recognition software, was launched with the last generation of devices and was pretty impressive, allowing you to ask it what the weather was going to be like, to text someone and even to remind you about stuff in your Calendar. iOS 6 brings Siri to iPad rather than just iPhone and along with it a load of new functions.
Sports fans can ask Siri when their favourite team is playing next, what the score was in their last game and even player stats for a variety of sports (mostly US-centric ones at the moment, however). Movie lovers can get upcoming showtimes, find trailers and movie facts and can now look up movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The third big Siri update regards dining out, allowing users to search for restaurants by cuisine, location, price, etc, and can also show you photos and reviews. It will also let you make table reservations via OpenTable.
Hope you like Facebook
Because there’s about to be a whole lot more of it. Facebook is being integrated with many more apps, so it’s now easier than ever to post statuses, share photos, links and high scores without actually having to leave the app you’re using. You can also ask Siri to post things for you too if that’s your bag. Events are now integrated into Calendar and your friends’ details will be added to Contacts whenever they update them.
For those who can’t go a couple of hours without updating their status, then this is going to be a very positive inclusion, but for those who either don’t use Facebook or are occasional users, it could become a little intrusive. There are more sharing options for other services such as Twitter and Mail, but iOS has definitely become a lot more Facebook focused after this update.
Passbook – pretty but probably pointless in the UK
This is one of the few brand new Apps that come with iOS 6 (it could even be the only one) and, to be honest, it’s a little doubtful as to whether it’s really that useful, particularly in the UK. In theory it sounds great; it lets you keep all of your coupons, tickets and cards in one place, meaning they’re always there when you need them. You can have movie tickets, coffee shop cards, money off coupons and even boarding passes for when you fly.
A very clever feature is that Passbook is time and location-based and will bring up relevant cards, coupons and tickets onto your Lock screen if you are in the vicinity of where it can be used. So, if you go into a Starbucks, in theory, it should bring up your Starbucks card (if you have one) ready for you to use.
However, it relies heavily on whether companies are actually going to take the service on board. The US is miles ahead of the UK when it comes to this kind of thing, with many shops, restaurants, etc, allowing payment for goods and services through a mobile phone. The UK isn’t quite there yet and, as such, Passbook could well become a bit of a white elephant. Should more and more companies get involved then it could be really useful but until then, it’s likely to remain of more use to those Stateside.
Those are just a few of the big new additions to Apple’s iOS, but there are plenty more (about 200 apparently), and here are a few more in easy to digest bullet point format…
- It’s now easier to share photos through the iCloud. You can pick individual photos and send them to individual people over iCloud, immediately delivering them to their Photos or iPhoto app. Those not using an Apple product can view the photos online.
- You can now FaceTime over a cellular network rather than just over Wi-Fi. This make sense and will become better once 4G networks roll out but it will still no doubt rinse data usage. Also, will many people really want to FaceTime in public?
- If you can’t answer a call, there are now more options available. You can reply instantly with a message or tell your phone to remind you later to get back in touch. So Apple haven’t forgotten the iPhone is still actually a phone then. The Do Not Disturb feature allows you to cancel all incoming calls and notifications between a given time period, or only allow calls from specific people.
- iCloud tabs in Safari allow you to start browsing on one Apple device and continue on another. You can also save full web pages in your Reading List for offline reading.
- The iPhone’s already excellent camera now has the ability to take panoramic photographs of up to 240 degrees, horizontally or vertically.
- There are now several new options for teachers using iOS devices, particularly for those teaching those with Special Educational Needs. With Accessibility, the Home button can be disabled to ensure focus on one particular task and a new screen reader has been introduced for blind and low-vision users. Coming soon are Made for iPhone hearing aids which will also be compatible with iOS 6.
On top of this there are loads of other tweaks and updates, such as remodelled stores, more Mail options, and those in China are getting a host of new country-specific features, including handwriting recognition support and integration of their unique social media channels.
This latest update is yet another case of evolution rather than revolution but there do seem to be some interesting and handy features. Passbook could be great if companies get on board with it, Accessibility will hopefully make iOS devices more, erm, accessible to users, and the Do Not Disturb feature could be especially useful. Not all of the new features are quite so impressive though; Maps has got off to a very rocky start and the extended Facebook integration could end up being annoying more than anything. On the face of it, it seems more like iOS 5.something rather than 6; there’s not much here that will changed people’s opinion of the devices for the better or worse.
iOS 6 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5, iPod Touch 4th and 5th generation, iPad 2 and the new iPad. However, not all features of the OS will work on all devices, so if you want absolutely everything iOS has to offer, you’ll have to make sure you have the newest device. Clever Apple. Clapple.
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