For those able to attend Apple’s keynote yesterday morning in San Francisco, it must have been a rather exciting occasion, with talk of new MacBooks, a new version of iOS and the possibility of a new iPhone. OK, so perhaps not all of these stories materialised in truth, but Apple did take us through the highlights of their new mobile OS, iOS 6.
With over 200 new additions, it’s tricky to choose which features to push in 60 minutes, but Tim Cook and his pals did an exemplary job of showing everyone what they’ve all been up to over the past few months. Having said that, we’ve come across a number of other tidbits of information that weren't covered on the stage, so we’ve brought them here, just for you, take a look.
1: Smart Cases
Not strictly iOS-related, but relevant to an iOS device. Front and centre on the iPad Accessories page of Apple’s online store, the Smart Covers which the company so proudly announced alongside the iPad 2 have been relegated to the depths of the scroll bar. In their place sits the new Smart Case, seemingly not as smart as the magnetic latch system offered by the Smart Covers, these new cases offer complete wrap-around protection on the back via means of a polyurethane back panel and on the front still sits the familiar microfibre-lined foldable cover that maintains its functionality as low-level stand too.
On one hand it would appear that this new case has rendered the magnetic latching system useless, however Apple offer laser engraving on each case’s back plate, ensuring you’re not as so finitely stuck with the sentiments scrawled on the back of your iPad, that is of course, if you’re not happy with them.
The new Smart Cases are currently available in a range of six colours, are compatible with both the iPad 2 and the new iPad and cost a snip more than the previous Smart Covers at £39.99 each.
2: Maps and Flyover support
We’ve spoken at length on Apple’s decision to pull away from Google’s location services and with iOS 6, they finally revealed the resultant project, the new all-Apple Maps app. Aside from a UI redesign, Maps brings 3D mapping technologies to the user experience, dubbed ‘Flyover’ and long sought after features such as turn by turn navigation.
There were however two small points that Apple didn’t cover in the all important keynote. Firstly as identified by BusinessWire, it is navigation company TomTom who have replaced Google as the location services provider. No further information on the terms of the contract were revealed.
Secondly, as impressive and visually spectacular as Flyover looks, the hot new feature won’t be coming to every iOS 6 compatible device. Most likely as a result of insufficient hardware, only the iPad 2, new iPad and iPhone 4S will be able to offer the service.
3: Full-Screen Browsing
A small but notable feature in mobile Safari; by turning your iOS 6 running iDevice into a landscape orientation and tapping the screen, you initiate a full-screen mode which hides both the top address and bottom menu bar of the browser chrome, leaving nothing but web page.
4: Guided Access
It’s not uncommon to see those with disabilities already making use of the accessibility features which come on existing iterations of iOS. Guided Access allows a key user to govern which elements or controls within an app are usable by a disabled user, including sensors, hardware controls and areas of touchscreen, giving greater control over the experience and ensuring they don’t accidentally perform incorrect actions.
5: Redesigned Music App
As you can see in these hands-on videos, many of the native iOS apps including Music have undergone a significant visual redesign. Gone are the blue on black menu panes and in their place sit white styling elements and touches of brushed metal visuals. A new playback UI also features with the controls re-sized, reshaped and repositioned. The aesthetic as was expected before announcement pushes iOS closer to OS X.
6: Siri support for Barclays Premier League
Although Siri gains a host of new abilities, its on-stage demonstrations of sporting knowledge were confined to MLB and basketball, two inherently American past times. It’s good to know then that in the UK, Siri will also take an interest in the Barclays Premiere League, providing match and player information on request.
7: Redesigned Stores
As with the Music app, Apple have spent time designing and unifying the user experience across all the iOS marketplaces, with the native iTunes, App and iBook stores all receiving a generous dose of cosmetic and navigational tweaking making it easier to search, browse and purchase content.
8: Eyes Free Support
Eyes Free is the partner project between Apple and a number of leading car manufacturers to provide Siri voice command access from the steering wheel of your car. In case you didn’t catch which manufacturers will support the service going forward, they consist of:
- General Motors
- Mercedes Benz
- Land Rover
9: Status Bar colours
After initial speculation, it was thought that iOS 6 had opted for a more vibrant, blue status bar, however once the latest beta build of the OS made it into the hands of developers, it was discovered that Apple have put a little more thought into it than that. Much like the translucent taskbar of OS X, the new iOS 6 status bar actually changes colour to better suit the colour palette of the app it’s running atop of. Cult of Mac who sourced the discovery from Reddit, tested a few third-party applications such as Skype, Facebook Messenger and eBay and the same effect was created, take a look.
10: Password entry for apps and updates
Another welcome feature that appears to take a leaf out of the Android book. As nice as it is to feel secure, the amount of times you find yourself entering your password on iOS can get a bit tedious. With iOS 6, users will no longer have to bother re-typing their iTunes account password when initiating update downloads and downloading previously purchased apps, handy.