Apple previewed iOS 6 today at the kickoff of the 2012 Worldwide Developer Conference, introducing over 200 new features. The company also released a beta version to iOS Developer Program members.
iOS 6 will be available to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users this fall as a free software update. New iOS 6 features include: an all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and a Flyover view; new Siri features, including support for more languages, access to sports scores, restaurant recommendations and movie listings; Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar, with the ability to post directly from Notification Center, Siri and Facebook-enabled apps like Photos, Safari and Maps; Shared Photo Streams via iCloud; and Passbook, the simplest way to get all your passes in one place.
“iOS 6 continues the rapid pace of innovation that is helping Apple reinvent the phone and create the iPad category, delivering the best mobile experience available on any device,” says said Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iOS Software.
iOS 6 includes an all new Maps app with vector-based map elements that make graphics and text smooth, and panning, tilting and zooming incredibly fluid, he adds. New turn-by-turn navigation guides you to your destination with spoken directions, and the Flyover feature has “photo-realistic,” interactive 3D views, says Forstall.
Real-time traffic information keeps you updated on how long it will take to get to your destination and offers alternate time-saving routes if traffic conditions change significantly. Additionally, local search includes information for over 100 million businesses with info cards that offer Yelp ratings, reviews, available deals and photos.
Siri, available for the new iPad with iOS 6, includes language support for English, French, German and Japanese, and adds support for Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese. Siri is optimized for use in 15 countries as of iOS 6.
iOS 6 boasts built-in Facebook integration, allowing you to sign in once and post from Notification Center, Siri and Facebook-enabled apps, including Photos, Safari and Maps. Your Facebook friends’ information is kept up to date across all your iOS devices, automatically updating details in Contacts when they change, and scheduling events and birthdays in your Calendar. You can also “Like” content directly from the App Store and iTunes and see what your friends recommend.
With more than 125 million users already using iCloud, iOS 6 introduces new ways to share photos with friends and family using Shared Photo Streams. Simply select the photos you want to share, pick which friends you want to receive the album, and the Shared Photo Stream album is instantly available on their iOS devices, iPhoto and Aperture on their Mac, via the web or even through Apple TV. You and your friends can leave comments on or “Like” any photo in a shared album.
The new Passbook app is the simplest way to get all your passes in one place, such as boarding passes and baseball tickets, according to Forstall. Passbook lets you scan your iPhone or iPod touch to use a coupon, get into a concert or check into your hotel. Passbook automatically displays your passes on your Lock Screen based on a specific time or location, so when you walk into your favorite coffee shop your loyalty card appears and you can scan it to buy a coffee or check your balance. Passbook can even alert you to last minute gate changes or flight delays at the airport.
Building on Apple’s commitment to provide innovative solutions for education and accessibility, iOS 6 introduces Guided Access, says Forstall. This new feature allows a parent, teacher or administrator to disable hardware buttons to lock an iOS device into a single app, especially useful for test taking or helping someone with a disability stay focused on learning, he adds. Guided Access also includes the ability to confine touch input to certain parts of the screen.
Additional new iOS 6 features include:
° Enhancements to Safari such as iCloud tabs, offline reading lists, photo uploads and full screen view;
° Support for FaceTime calls over cellular networks;
° Tthe ability to set up a VIP Mailbox, making it easier to quickly view messages from important people you designate as VIPs;
° The option to decline incoming calls with a quick message, set a callback reminder and enable a new Do Not Disturb option;
° A new set of improvements and services specifically for iOS users in China, such as improved text input and built-in support for popular Chinese services including Baidu, Sina Weibo, Youku and Tudou.
The iOS 6 beta software and SDK [software development kit] are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. iOS 6 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, the new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch (fourth generation) this fall. Some features may not be available on all products.