The leading figures at Apple are no doubt in the midst of final preparations for the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference, scheduled to take place tonight San Francisco. In amidst talk of new iPhones and pint-sized iPads, one key element that ties the whole ecosystem together has the strongest possibility of emerging anew.
iOS 6, the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile OS will likely debut at the Moscone Center next week, but what does the future of the operating system entail? We’re recapping the biggest stories expected to hold water come next week’s all important keynote speech from Apple CEO Tim Cook and his buddies.
iOS/Mac OS X convergence and iCloud
Improving the functionality in some ways, is limited by the fundamental design of the OS. That being said, this latest iteration is expected to share more elements from its desktop computing counterpart, Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Word of a ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature is in the works, which will allow all banners and notifications to be blocked via the Settings menu, much like Mountain Lion.
9to5mac stated that plans for iCloud tabs are expected too, with open tabs from Safari on a user’s Mac, syncing to a connected iOS device on-the-go. What’s more, we’ve taken note of plans to introduce iCloud notes and reminders, which can sync items complete with notifications across your whole iDevice library, with user improvements to iCloud.com in the works too.
Siri on iPad
If you don’t use iCloud, there are still a number of other reasons to get excited about iOS 6. With the update to iOS 5.1.1, many iPad users were disappointed by a severe lack of one much talked about voice assistant. Siri, which debuted on the iPhone 4S was distinctly lacking on its iOS-running tablet brother and as such users were only offered simple voice dictation in applications like Notes to compensate.
In a transcript put together by MacRumours, Tim Cook was quoted as stating, "But, there's more that it can do. We have a lot of people working on this. You'll be really pleased with the things you'll see over the coming months. The breadth that you're talking about -- we've got some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on on this."
Many put this optimism down to Siri finally coming to the iPad and at the same time, undergoing some key improvements, which will no doubt grace the iPhone 4S too. We’re also crossing our fingers for location searching in the UK, a key part of the Siri experience that users outside the US find hard to come by.
Greater Facebook integration
As Twitter managed with iOS 5, Facebook looks to be headed in much the same direction with iOS 6. Facebook and Apple are said to be forming a strong relationship and as such, we should see a notable increase in Facebook functionality on iOS, what that holds per se is unclear.
More sharing options from native apps, the automatic inclusion of the Facebook Camera app with the OS or as suggested by TechCrunch, perhaps a unified account system allowing iOS users to log into Facebook login-based apps using their Apple IDs or vice versa, we’ll have to wait and see.
The red notification badges that occasionally inhabit the corner of iOS apps are useful to say the least, but compared to the live tiles of Windows Phone and widgets on Android, these serve as little more than smoke signals compared to the informative homescreens of its rival OSs.
As Android users called Apple out with the introduction of the pull down notifications panel in iOS 5, Windows Phone users may well be doing the same if the rumour picked up by PocketNow is to be believed. It’s a possibility that homescreen apps other than the Calendar icon may start updating automatically such as the Weather with today’s forecast or Music with the cover art for your tunes. As much as a rip off as this may be, it would also be a nice inclusion.
One much talked about element of iOS 6 is Maps, the unbranded application has relied on Google’s location services since the birth of the iPhone, however iOS 6 is set to debut Apple’s new alternative. An in house maps application, based on technology Apple picked up amidst company acquisitions. As well as new artwork and fonts for the birds-eye view, there’s also talk of a fully integrated 3D mapping mode, said to render high quality 3D landscapes and landmarks using a mix of topological data and high resolution satellite imagery.
Apple no doubt have a few more secrets which they’ve managed to keep under wraps before the main event, but these suspected additions and alterations stand as a big shift in iOSs fundamental usability, something that Apple likely hope won’t alienate current users in the process.