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Apple iOS 6 features revealed

Apple today previewed iOS 6, the latest version of its operating system at its World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The latest version of Apple’s OS is packed with features, some we’d heard about before and some brand new introduced by Apple’s VP of iOS Scott Forstall.

Facebook Integration – Facebook integration is finally here. Like Twitter in iOS 5, you can share locations and enjoy calendar and contact integration, something Android users have had for a long time. It uses an open API so app developers can build this integration into apps.

Siri: Siri has a host of new features. The most significant news is that business support will finally be available in the UK, so it will finally be able to find restaurants, taxis etc. Elsewhere you can use Siri to dictate and send Tweets and even launch apps – the example shown was Temple Run.  Siri now integrates with Rotten Tomatoes for film reviews along with actor bios (right pic). Users will be able to access sports results, league tables and useless sporting stats and restaurant ratings.

Eyes Free: Part of Siri and confirmed for the UK. Apple has partnered with premium car brands like Audi and BMW to include a button that enables drivers to bring up Siri, so drivers can safely send Tweets and send messages.

Apple iOS 6 press shot

iCloud: If you’re an iPhone, iPad and MacBook owner then you’ll be pleased. With Apple’s new Mac operating system, Mountain Lion messages, reminders and notes will interface with iDevices over iCloud, along with Pages, Keynote, Numbers and Text Edit. So you can access a document in Pages on your iPhone (for example) and access it across your Mac. Tabview lets you even access browser tabs across devices.

Safari: Reading List is now available offline – another nail in Instapaper’s coffin perhaps?

Phone: Apple has taken some care to revamp the native iOS Phone application to provide a host of new thoughtful features. For those times when taking a call just isn’t appropriate, you can either set a reminder to call the contact back or conversely, reply via iMessage/SMS with a predefined set of text responses. Of course both features have custom settings too.

Do Not Disturb: A small but notable feature we caught wind of before the keynote. Do Not Disturb (left picture) is a simple toggle option in the settings of iOS 6 which disables all visible and audible notifications coming to the device, they still arrive, the user just remains unaware. The feature is customisable by time and the option to specify whose calls are heard or how many times a caller must ring before they are heard is available.

Facetime over 3G: Finally you’ll be able to make Facetime calls using your cellular network. Apple is also unifying your phone number and Apple ID, so if a call or message comes through using your phone number, it appears on your Mac.

Photo Stream: You can now share your Photo Streams with friends via email.

Mail: A simple features, but iOS 6 enables photos and videos to be attached to messages from with the Mail app, which also supports pull down to refresh. Special contacts you can mark as VIP’s who have their own special inbox.

Smart banners: Alerts on websites let you know instantly if there is a relevant app available, before taking you to the App store to download it. Once the app has downloaded it will automatically take you back to the same page that you were viewing in Safari, only in the newly downloaded app.

Passbook: The end of tickets? Instead of using a card this feature turns your iOS device into a virtual ticket, so you simply flash your iPhone be it buying coffee in Starbucks or boarding a United Airlines flight, including any changes to the gate – pretty cool. We’ll have to wait and see which developers in the UK take advantage of this, but could be a goldmine for Apple – could it be the end of paper tickets? Will Apple partner with Tickmaster and take a cut?

Maps: The news Maps application in iOS 6 is aesthetically a mild redesign over its predecessor, with a more minimalist UI consisting of a single top search bar, the user location/direction toggle and the much anticipated 3D toggle. Featuring Yelp integration, a traffic update service with anonymous, real-time incident reports and a bold new traffic view, turn-by-turn navigation with quick route, Siri support and the ability to operate the app from the lockscreen, the new Maps is worlds apart over its predecessor with regards to functionality.

The app’s pièce de résistence has been dubbed ‘Flyover’. Cities, located all over the world have rendered in amazingly high quality 3D, allowing users to move fluidly through the buildings and structures. It looks pretty cool.

Find out which devices will get iOS 6 here.

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