What’s New in iOS 6?

The iOS 6.0 — the sixth iteration of the operating system that powers its iPhones and iPads — will be released in the autumn of 2012. Apple made the beta version available to developers in June.

Maps

  • Apple has split from Google Maps as its default mapping provider in favor of its own proprietary solution. Using its own maps and overlays, the new version of the Maps app includes turn-by-turn directions, vector-based graphics to smooth scrolling and zooming, real-time traffic updates in selected major markets and a “flyover” view to see cities and landmarks from a bird’s-eye vantage point. The new Maps app integrates with Yelp and Siri — Apple’s digital voice assistant — to integrate with calendars and check-ins.
  • One word of caution, though: Apple Maps lacks transit directions, so people who relied on Google’s local transit or hiking routes may need to install a different mapping tool. It also doesn’t include the Street View that Google Maps users have come to depend on for visual context about their destination.

Passbook

  • The other significant new addition to iOS 6 is Passport. Apple touts this app as an all-in-one digital portfolio to track tickets, loyalty cards, gift cards and coupons. Passbook is sensitive to time and location, so it won’t show you your train ticket until you’re ready to go. Just add your information to Passbook and it provides a scannable barcode compatible with various checkout or ticketing systems.

Phone Improvements

  • Apple extended the functionality of its core Phone app, as well. Users of iOS 6 can send calls to voice mail when they arrive, responding with a preset text message or a reminder to call back later. Reminders may be time-based (e.g., “call in one hour”) or location-based (e.g., “call when I get home”). Additionally, the iPhone will include a “do not disturb” function that can be set manually or on a regular “quiet hours” schedule, although users can list people who will always override a do-not-disturb setting so that a call from a child, spouse or employer won’t go straight to voice mail.

Deeper Social Integration

  • Apple has partnered with Facebook to include that social network’s sharing functions as a core part of iOS instead of forcing users to rely on a standalone Facebook app for their social-media engagement. With iOS 6, Facebook users can post status updates, share links, check in to locations and see contacts and events from within native apps. Siri can even post a dictated status update to a Facebook Timeline.
  • The Facebook “like” button makes an appearance in iTunes, so users can “like” various songs or apps from within iTunes.
  • Apart from Facebook, iOS 6 has expanded functionality within the Photos app to share individual images or entire image libraries with individual users. People on the receiving end of the shared media will receive a notification on their own iPhone or iPad alerting them to the new pictures.

Other Enhancements

  • In addition to the new features in iOS 6, Apple has enhanced some apps currently in iOS 5.
  • Siri, for example, now understands more commands and pulls in contextual data from social sources like RottenTomatoes.com for movies or Yelp for restaurants. The FaceTime video-sharing app now works over a cellular connection instead of just Wi-Fi. The Mail app includes a “VIP” list of users who receive priority treatment in your inbox; the inbox itself has been updated with a cleaner interface. The Safari Web browser will save entire Web pages instead of just links into its reading list and sync open tabs across all versions of Safari — mobile or desktop — connected to the same iCloud account.

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