iOS 6 is the next major update for the iOS operating system and we’re sure that many have been wondering what sort of features it would be bringing to the table, and today at WWDC Apple finally took the wraps off the next update thus putting an end to the speculation and rumors – at least until iOS 7 is nearing the corner!
Updates to Siri
Starting with Siri, this is a feature that has been rumored to be arriving on iOS 6. Originally a feature exclusive to the iPhone 4S, it looks like Siri will be making its way onto the new iPad as well. For those unfamiliar, Siri is Apple’s voice assistant feature that allows users to dictate messages, perform searches and basically ask Siri questions while it attempts to retrieve the answers. This includes asking for the weather, local restaurants, directions, etc. Siri has also been updated with several new features and will now see integration with Rotten Tomatos, the movie review website. This will allow users to perform a search for movies and get a review before deciding if they should go ahead and watch it. It has also gained the ability to launch apps via voice commands.
There is also a nifty safety feature called Eyes Free. This is a initiative launched by Apple that will see car manufacturers install a button in their vehicles that will launch Siri on iOS devices without the user having to take their eyes or hands off the wheel. Apple expects this Eyes Free feature to roll out in the next twelve months. Siri will also be gaining an update in terms of the languages supported. It will now support dialects, for example Cantonese and will also be able to perform local searches.
The next feature of iOS 6 is Facebook integration. Tim Cook hinted at this at the AllThingsD conference a while back, and it looks like it has finally been unveiled. iOS users can expect deeper Facebook integration and allow for the sharing of apps and media directly within iOS itself. The notification center has also been updated to include two new buttons – Tap to Tweet and Tap to Post (Facebook). As the names have implied, this allows users to call up Twitter and Facebook directly within the notification itself for a quick message or status update. In fact, Facebook will also be integrated into the iTunes App Store where users will be able to “Like” apps, songs, etc.
Redesigned Phone app and Do Not Disturb feature
Apple has also revamped the Phone app and will now give users more ways to handle incoming calls. This includes the ability to reject a call while sending a message directly to the user. This will be handy for those times you’re in a meeting where you will be able to reject the call and send a message at the same time. This is as opposed to rejecting the call and having to type out a message to send to the other person. There is also a Do Not Disturb feature where calls and messages will still come in, it just won’t light up the phone’s display or play any sounds. We guess this is nifty for those of you who tend to get lots of calls, messages or emails late into the night.
FaceTime over cellular data
FaceTime for iOS has also been updated and is now bringing iOS users a feature that they have long been asking for – FaceTime calls over cellular data. This is a feature that many have asked for, and there were hints that Apple was looking to introduce this feature as well and it looks like it is finally here. Apple also revealed that they will be unifying your phone number with your Apple ID. This means that FaceTime calls placed directly to your phone number can be answered on a variety of different Apple products such as iOS or Mac devices. This has also been extended to iMessage as well.
Safari; Photo Stream; Support for the Chinese market; New Maps app
Other iOS 6 features includes an update to Safari which not only allows users to upload photos directly, but will come with an offline reader as well. This should work like apps such as Readability or Instapaper and allows users to save websites for offline reading where a WiFi or cellular data connection might not be available. Apple also updated its Photo Stream where users will now be able to select Photos and friends to share their Photo Stream with. These photos can also be commented on which sounds like Apple’s take on Facebook, albeit a mini and somewhat closed off version exclusive to iOS and Mac users.
Much like how OS X Mountain Lion saw added support for the Chinese market, iOS 6 will be doing the same as well. This includes the rumored Baidu search integration along with localized Chinese services from Youku and Weibo, along with improved text input and a dictionary. Last but not least, Apple has also taken the wraps off its very own Maps app which we guess will replace Google Maps. We felt like this was a feature that deserved a post of its own, so head on over here to check out the features in Apple’s very own Maps app.
Support for iOS 6 includes the iPhone 3GS onwards, the iPad (2nd & 3rd gen), and the iPod touch (4th gen) and is expected to begin shipping this Fall, which hopefully is when the next-gen iPhone is expected to be launched as well.
[Image credit - Apple]