We knew it was coming, and Apple has made it official. iOS 6 is coming out later this year with a host of new features, including the aforementioned redesigned Maps app everyone wants to see.
There are now over 365 million iOS devices in the wild, and the vast majority of them are on iOS 5. The numbers are just staggering – 1.5 trillion push notifications have been sent, and there have been 150 billion iMessages sent from 140 million users.
Apple is touting a huge increase in customer satisfaction, too. The market has grown but customer satisfaction hasn’t suffered as a result.
Siri has been updated with lots of new stats, including sports scores, and you can find restaurant reviews through OpenTable. You can even make reservations through the system.
Movie information has also been augmented to include Rotten Tomatoes ratings and movie times in your neighbourhood.
Siri can also open apps — very cool. She’s also able to tweet directly from the prompt, no more hacking the system using a custom text message.
And Local Search for Siri will now be available in Canada!
Eyes Free is a service that Apple is developing in conjunction with top car manufacturers to integrate the system into their custom dashes. Will be very interesting to see how deep the rabbit hole goes with this one. Cars are a very lucrative business.
In addition to amping up Twitter integration (look at the new notification centre icons), Facebook is getting native support in iOS 6. You can tap to Post to Facebook, including pictures, likes, ratings etc. Facebook events such as Birthdays and parties will also be integrated directly into Notification Centre.
If you want to decline a call politely (if in a meeting or out for dinner) you can reply with a preset message or have Siri remind you to call that person back later.
Apple has also added a Do Not Disturb feature to iOS 6 (finally!) which will prevent the screen from lighting up or vibrating (without having to turn Sound off completely). You can schedule it for certain times (bedtime and waking in the morning) and, thankfully, you can allow repeated calls to come through in case of emergency.
Thank the heavens. With the likely release of an LTE iPhone later this year, Apple has pre-empted any complaints that FaceTime doesn’t yet work over cellular connections. This will be added to existing devices, too, which is interesting. Wonder how well it will work on the iPhone 4S which can only do 5.76Mbps upload.
Phone numbers are also getting unified with your Apple ID, so you can receive FaceTime calls on your MacBook if it’s coming through on your phone or iPad.
Mobile Safari is seeing some serious improvements in iOS 6. Not only can you upload to your favourite websites straight from the app (FINALLY!) but you can sync your iCloud tabs (a feature shared with OS X Mountain Lion) to continue your reading on the go.
Fullscreen support is also coming to Mobile Safari in landscape mode, which will go nicely with the 4-inch iPhone released later this year.
Apple has integrated Shared Photo Streams with friends (much like a private Facebook album) so you can share memories of trips and pool together your photos. This is a great idea.
VIPs are being added to the Mail app (Priority Inbox from Gmail, anyone?) to ensure you see the emails from the most important people in your life. This is great.
What’s even greater is pull-to-refresh within the Mail app. Again, finally.
Plus, instead of having to add a photo or video before you begin the mail message, you can now include media in the middle of a composition. We’re not sure exactly how it works just yet, but it’s a great idea.
A new app called Passbook is a way to consolidate all your virtual passes and payment apps into one easy-to-access place. This is a great way to save your airline tickets, Starbucks payments or loyalty cards. The company is partnering with some big brands, though we’re not sure which ones will be compatible in Canada.
Interestingly, Passbook alerts will be viewable right in Notification Center, so we’re worried about excess noise, but we’ll see.
New Accessibility features will be added to iOS 6, including the ability to disable multitasking for kids, and new guided access abilities.
And here we have the new Maps app, including crowdsourced traffic information, turn-by-turn navigation and Siri integration.
Yelp has been added for access to 100 million business listings, too, which will be nice when you’re in a new city and don’t know where to go.
You can make calls directly from the Maps app, and turn on Navigation directly. This mimics Android turn-by-turn navigation abilities pretty closely, though the 3D maps look amazing.
3D satellite maps will be available for both iPhone and iPad and the renders look incredible realistic. Just wow. Also looks like Canadian cities are supported.
The turn-by-turn navigation looks to be powered by TomTom, though there is no branding of any kind.
The Maps app looks to be a killer feature, and really takes some huge Android advantages away from Google. Turn-by-turn has until now been one major purchasing reason to go Android.
Looks like there are a few more major inclusions here, such as “Per account signatures in Mail,” “Lost Mode” for the iPhone, new challenges in Game Centre and Redesigned Stores, whatever that means.
The beta is available now, but it won’t be available for the original iPad. Looks like the rumours are true: the original iPad will not receive iOS 6.
The list of devices that support iOS 6 are: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, new iPad, iPod Touch (4th Gen).
iOS 6 is going to released “this fall,” likely a day before the debut of the new iPhone, like iOS 5 was last year.
So what do you think? If you’re a current iOS user, are you happy with the updates? Underwhelmed? If you’re an Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone user, is this really “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system?” Will you upgrade? Let us know in the continuing discussion below.
Update: Apple has listed that Siri will be available in both English and French on their site. In addition, we reached out to Apple Canada for more details to see if the new Siri features will be fully functional for us Canadians. Their answer: “With iOS 6 – Siri will be fully supported in Canada.” So it seems that Canada is finally getting some localized love and we’ll have Siri launch apps, find us movies, find restaurants and make a reservation via OpenTable, plus have the ability to update Facebook and Twitter and use the new Eyes Free feature. – IH