This is a guest post by William Judd
Last week at the yearly WorldWide Developers Conference, Apple announced the latest version of their mobile operating system: iOS 6. The new version of the OS brings several new features to the table, notably ones that existed on Android for some time. As such, the update represents Apple’s continuing closing of the feature gap between iOS and Android, whilst maintaining the high level of usability that has been their trademark across all sections of their business. Let’s have a look at precisely what was announced.
Perhaps the biggest single update was to the Maps application. Instead of using Google’s Maps app on iOS, Apple is moving to their own solution, based on mapping data from OpenStreetMap. The maps are displayed using vectors instead of rasterised images, meaning each element is infinitely scaleable and should be a bit more bandwith-efficient as well. This should make it brilliant to use the iPad as an accessory for navigation, as the high resolution screen and new graphics should work perfectly together.
There are other changes in the mapping app. Apple has introduced turn-by-turn navigation into the app, a feature that Android has had for three years. There are also crowd-source navigation data via TomTom and 3D map viewing. However, Google Street View has been removed for obvious reasons.
PassBook is a new app for iOS. It’s a mobile wallet that stores your merchant loyalty cards, boarding passes and tickets. It’s clever too, automatically updating the ticket with relevant information (like the gate number for a flight) and issuing alerts if you are close to a shop that you have gift card money to spend at. Should be brilliant, but a bit annoying if you’ve constantly got reminders going in your iPad headphones!
The world’s favourite virtual assistant has been upgraded again, with a whole bunch of new interests. You can now ask Siri questions about sports (including stats and results), nearby restaurants (using data from Yelp and with reservations by OpenTable), and films (including trailers and Rotten Tomatoes ratings and reviews). You can also ask Siri to open apps for you, a feature that many were surprised wasn’t available at launch.
Apple were rumoured to be including Facebook integration in an earlier version of iOS, but it never materialised and we got Twitter instead. This time around, Facebook is getting the full treatment, including pulling information from your Facebook friends into your phone contacts and making sharing to Facebook a lot easier.
So those are the big changes coming in iOS 6. There are a host of other tweaks, changes and additions that you can read about elsewhere – Apple’s official iOS 6 page is a great place to start. Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know what you think of the new OS in the comments below!