Posted by: Brett
The next major release of Apple’s mobile operating system – iOS 6 – will be rolling out to devices tomorrow, September 19th. With over 200 new features, there’s a bunch of things you should know about to get the most out of the upgrade. Keep reading to find out what’s new and everything else you should know about iOS 6.
Siri has gained a large amount of functionality in iOS 6. First, you can ask almost anything about sports like rosters, scores of past games and games currently in progress, as well as information about future games like where they’re located and who’s starting. You can ask about players, their stats in a specific game or overall, or you can compare players by saying “Who is taller – Lebron or Kobe?” and you’ll get a response and two “cards” – one with Lebron James stats and one with Kobe Bryant’s stats. There’s also standings and team schedules as well.
Siri will also show you information about movies. You can ask about movies playing at a specific theater, view movie trailers, Rotten Tomatoes ratings, movies with a certain actor / actress in them, movie summaries, times they’re scheduled to plat at a local theater, and more.
There’s also more functionality when it comes to finding restaurants. You can make reservations with OpenTable, get reviews and ratings with Yelp, as well as search for restaurants based on food type, price, and more. In addition to the iPhone 4S, Siri is now available on the new iPad (2012) and will come pre-loaded on the new iPod touch when it’s released next month.
Apple has ousted Google’s mapping data and built-in app from iOS an replaced it with their own app and data from a number of reputable GPS service. Apple built a redesigned Maps app from the ground up and is working with a number of partners such as TomTom and Waze to give iOS 6 users high-quality map data for new feature’s the app brings.
The first new feature in the iOS 6 Maps app is 3D imagery. Using data from C3 Technologies, a 3D mapping company Apple purchased last year, the new app uses the 3D imagery to power a feature called “Flyover” letting to pan around major cities in 3D.
Also included is turn-by-turn, voice-guided directions using Siri’s voice. The application shows traffic and construction and will even re-route you if there is a faster available route. Directions will continue on the lock screen when the device is locked, Yelp will provide you with reviews and information about businesses, and there is a new home screen icon for Maps.
While the new Maps application is available on all iOS 6 supported device, turn-by-turn and flyover (the 3D imagery) is only available on the iPhone 4S and 5, the iPad 2 and 3, and the fifth-generation iPod touch.
As Apple did with Twitter last year in iOS 5, Facebook is now built-in to iOS 6 in the same fashion. You can now log in to your Facebook account through the Settings app and never have to log in to any app that requires your Facebook credentials again. If one asks for them, you can allow it access to your email and password since you already set it up in Settings.
Also, you can share pictures from your Photos app to Facebook by clicking the share button. You can like and share music to your Facebook and Twitter through the iTunes and App Stores now as well. The Notification Center pull-down also includes a new widget to post directly to Facebook or Twitter. If you’re logged in to both, just pull down the Notification Center and tap the “Tap to Tweet” or “Tap to Post” button.
With iOS 6, Apple is putting one foot in to the mobile payment door with Passbook. Passbook allows you to store gift cards, coupons, travel and sporting event tickets, and more – all in one app. Each have a barcode which can be scanned, as well as other card specific information like seat numbers, card balances, and more.
Most will be / are location-based so if you have a plane ticket and you arrive at the airport, you’ll get a notification on the lock screen. You’ll also get a notification if a flight were to be delayed or anything similar to that. There is a limit as to what you can do as even with the iPhone 5, there are no NFC capabilities that work with Passbook.
The Phone has also received some improvements in iOS 6. In addition to the dialer receiving a lighter-tone skin, there’s a new feature called Do Not Disturb. Also found on the Mac, Do Not Disturb allows you to have all notifications and phone calls to be silenced and prevent the screen from lighting up when they come in. There are also settings for it allowing you to tell it when to turn on and off, allow calls from certain people like your Favorites, and have repeated calls come in (so if someone calls again after their first call was silenced, it will come through).
There are also new ways to decline a call. When you get a call, you can slide up the small phone icon next to the “Slide to answer”, allowing you to decline, decline and send a custom or preset text message, or decline and set a reminder to call back later.
New in Mail is the VIP inbox, inserting images or videos while in and email, and more.
As you can also find on the Mac, iOS 6 includes the VIP inbox. So, if an email comes in from any contact you set as a VIP, the email will automatically be starred and put into the separate inbox. You can also pull to refresh your inbox now, rather than clicking a refresh icon.
Also, in iOS 5 and prior, to add a video or picture into an email, you’d have to begin by selecting the pictures through the Photos app, and if you forgot to choose one or chose a wrong picture, you had to start the email all over again. Now in iOS 6, you can add photos or videos from within the email by tapping and holding then letting go and choosing “Insert photo or video”. Finally, you can set separate signatures for each email account you have added
As you might expect, Safari has received new features in iOS 6 and the first being full-screen landscape mode, allowing the website to take up the entire screen by hiding the top and bottom bars.
There’s also iCloud tabs, so if you were viewing a website on your iPad with iOS 6 and you want to see that site on your iOS 6 iPhone, you can click the cloud button to see all the tabs you had open on your iPad. Finally, there’s Offline Reading List which improves on the Reading List feature in iOS 5 by now allowing you to save complete webpages for when you have no service.
- Panorama mode in the Camera app for the iPhone 4S and 5 and the iPod touch 5
- Black / darker Camera theme
- Updated Share / Action menu throughout the OS
- Built-in Clock app on the iPad
- Shared Photo Streams allows you to share sets of photos with other people. If they have iOS devices, they can comment on and like the pictures. Non iOS users will receive an email with a link to the pictures.
- Guided Access mode for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities
- Redesigned App Store and iTunes Store
- FaceTime over 3G (requires a Mobile Share plan if on AT&T)
- New Settings icon
- Install free apps and app updates without entering your Apple ID / password
- YouTube app removed, Google has released YouTube for iPhone into the App Store
- Refreshed Weather app UI
- If an app you’re searching for in Spotlight is in a folder, Spotlight will say which folder it’s in
- New Music app UI
- Status bar changes color depending on the top most color of the app you’re in
- Newly downloaded apps will have a small blue “New” banner on the corner of the app icon
- The spinner on the screen when you’re device is turning off is now optimized for the Retina display
All in all, this is a great update for iOS users. Remember, iOS 6 has over 200 new features and the ones mentioned above are just the major ones you’ll notice easily. iOS 6 is available for the iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S (comes pre-loaded on the iPhone 5), iPad 2 and iPad 3, and the iPod touch 4th generation (will come pre-loaded on the 5th gen when it launches next month).
If you’re unsure on how to do so, check out my article on updating your iOS device here.