The latest generation of Apple’s mobile software was unveiled sometime ago now, and although it’s not due for release until later this year we have had beta access to iOS 6 and have been putting it to the test. If you are an Apple fan then iOS 6 is going to delight and excite you, and if you aren’t an Apple fan then we’re pretty sure you will be once you experience some of the new features.
From some of the most badly kept secrets in the world to some features that seem to have been our wish list for what seems like an eternity, we thought it was about time we brought you some highlights from our beta testing.
FaceTime Over 3G
A lot of people can’t understand why this has taken so long, but finally we are able to use Apple’s video calling software over our mobile networks. The mobile operators might not like this news as much as us but we think it’s a great addition and a very welcome one too.
This might just be one of the worst kept secrets in the world, but finally Apple unveiled it’s version of maps to rival Google’s offering. Visually, Apple have done an incredible job here, the city flyover view gets a special mention when viewing on the retina display screen, it truly is something to behold. Maps also includes traffic information and doubles as a sat-nav giving turn-by-turn navigation. Add to that the ability to control it using Siri and you’ve got a perfect maps application.
Passbook is Apple’s new e-tickets app, enabling you to carry electronic tickets for anything from sports events to plane travel, it also includes a digital loyalty card system, which will come in very handy especially if you drink at Starbucks! The app also updates too, so people using it for plane travel will be able to see when their flight is boarding without having to be at the departure gate. This is a great addition but we reserve judgement until we see just how many organisations sign up to using the app.
Improved Phone App
Apple have included an improved version of their phone app within iOS6. The revised version offers smart reminders allowing you to reject an incoming call with a message saying you’re busy, in a meeting or you will call them back later. The app will also allow you to set a reminder to call that person back at a certain time or even when you leave the current location you’re in. There is also a Do Not Disturb option which will appeal to everyone who has been in a meeting and received a message at the wrong time. Do Not Disturb will receive a message or call and won’t make a sound or light the screen up, you can also edit this feature to set rules around calls from people you do want to see and people you don’t. This is a fantastic edition to iOS6 and one non Apple fan’s will even see the value of.
Mail VIP’s and Pull to Refresh
Finally pull to refresh has made it onto mail! This has been a longtime coming and a very welcome feature. Apple have also decided to include a VIP feature that will allow mail from your nominated VIP’s to appear in your lock screen and also in a separate mailbox. Whilst this is cool feature not one we have used excessively and not sure we will in the future. Sharing photo’s or videos from within mail is a feature we will be using though, as are account signatures.
Siri comes to the New iPad
Whilst some people are disappointed Siri has only made it onto the New iPad, it’s still a great addition. All the features that iPhone 4s users will be aware of have made it onto the New iPad. Apple haven’t commented on whether it will make it onto the iPad 2 but for third generation users it massively enhances their user experience.
So Siri has come to the New iPad, but Apple have also made some significant enhancements to it’s performance. Not everyone was aware but when Siri was first introduced it was done as a beta version and Apple required users to help them collate more words for Siri to understand. That work has now paid off as Siri now understands a much more wider range of questions than before and will even help you book a table at a restaurant. Siri is also going on it’s travels as Apple are working with a number of motoring companies including BMW, Jaguar, and Land rover to help integrate the new Eyes Free feature, allowing users to operate Siri from a button on their steering wheel. All manufacturers signed up have promised to support the new feature within the next 12 months.
Plenty of useful improvements have been introduced within safari. You now have instapaper-style offline reading, iCloud tab syncing and photo sharing website integration to make uploading less hassle. There are also some less than useful enhancements but we will brush over those for the time being.
When iOS5 was released, Twitter integration was a big part of that software but it left users wondering why Facebook wasn’t also integrated. I guess the answer to that question will never be known but for avid Facebook users, iOS6 finally delivers Facebook integration. You are able to post photo’s, locations, URL’s and so on. The good news for developers is that the API is public so non-Apple apps can also share in the integration magic, good news for us here at Creation Application.
iOS6 has many more features including guided access for children, remodelled app and iTunes stores, find my friends and many more. We have taken our time assessing the new features and whilst there are some that are questionable, there are so many more that are a truly fantastic edition to your iOS devices.
iOS 6 will be available to anyone with an iPhone 3GS or higher, so any 3G users out there will need to think about getting an upgrade, but we can promise it will be worth it. Unlike other mobile operating systems, iOS isn’t dependant on mobile operators approving updates. As a result 80% of iOS users have the latest version compared to 7% of Android users. It’s safe to say we should expect the same take up speed for iOS6.
Let us know what you think of the new features and what you’re looking forward to getting your hands on the most.