Apple has released the iOS 6 beta 4 and the official release should come in late September or early October.
iOS 6 is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Unlike earlier iOS updates that filled missing gaps with additions like multitasking or in-app payments, iOS 6 focuses mainly on improving existing features and integrating cloud services.
The following are some of the most noteworthy changes.
(1) No More YouTube App
Apple says that its license to include the YouTube app in iOS has expired. Google is working on a new YouTube app that will be distributed through the App Store and whatever the result, it’s sure to be an improvement on the primitive YouTube app that has shipped on iOS devices since June 2007.
(2) No More RSS In Mobile Safari
Apple eliminated the ability to read RSS feeds in Safari 6, its desktop browser in OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion. The change is also coming to mobile Safari. As noted in iOS 6 beta 3 last month, “In iOS 6 and later, Safari no longer registers for the common feed: RSS/ATOM scheme. Apps that can view those types of feeds are encouraged to register for that URL scheme.”
(3) Maps Will Be Different
Apple’s desire to limit its reliance on Google services led it to purchase three online map companies in the past few years. Maps in iOS 6 will depend on Apple’s own geodata.
(4) Talk Less, Text More
Apple has finally gotten around to improving the phone call experience, which hasn’t changed much since the iPhone first shipped. iOS 6 allows you to answer or decline phone calls with preset or custom text messages, or to set a reminder to respond to a declined call. It also includes the option to configure do-not-disturb times. Call avoidance is about to get much easier.
(5) Passbook To Provide More Data To Merchants
iOS 6 includes a digital loyalty program app called Passbook. Apple sees an opportunity to organize the rather disorganized world of digital loyalty programs, digital ticketing, and the like. The success of Passbook and the Pass Kit API is likely to hinge on the reporting data Apple can provide its business partners.
(6) FaceTime Will Run On Cellular Networks
FaceTime, Apple’s video messaging service, presently runs only over Wi-Fi connections. In iOS 6, it will also function over a cellular data connection. It will thus be much more useful and probably more expensive.
(7) Photo Streams, Apple’s Instagram
Every app that deals with photos seems to provide some capability to share images with others. Apple’s Photo Streams in iOS 6 promises the ability to share with a select audience. But Apple’s real goal with Photo Streams is social: It wants people to share using Apple hardware and iCloud and to post comments to each other.
(8) Siri Becomes More Useful
The original Siri was novel but disappointing: It didn’t quite live up to the hype. Its iOS 6 incarnation promises to be a bit more useful. Now, it can interact with external applications. The new, improved Siri can make reservations through OpenTable, post tweets, and launch specific apps.
(9) iOS 6 Supports 640 x 1136 Displays
Chances the iPhone 5 may come with a screen of that size. It just hasn’t been released yet.
(10) You Can Share Something Via Bluetooth
iOS 6 includes a new privacy setting called Bluetooth Sharing. When enabled, it allows apps to share data with each other, even if the apps are not actively being used. It could allow iPhone users, for example, to transmit Passbook ticket data. It may also be useful for playing multiplayer games against other iOS device users in the same general area.