Speaking during a keynote address at his company’s annual developers conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed the details of iOS 6, an updated version of the operating system for the iPhone and iPad.
As had been widely expected, a completely re-built Maps application will use data from Apple’s own servers, dropping Google Maps. This will be a more full-featured offering than its predecessor, with turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation, not just directions. This will include re-routing around traffic problems, as well as a 3D mode called Flyover.
The service is also learning sports scores and movie times, and will know more about restaurants. Support for additional languages, like Spanish and Korean is being added as well. The iPad is also getting full Siri support.
Facebook will be integrated into iOS 6, making it easier for people to post images and other content to this social-networking service. Birthdays and events from Facebook can also be set to appear in the iOS calendar. An API will help third-party developers make use of these features in their own apps.
Improvements to the Apple’s Own Apps
Enhancements in the Phone app are going to allow users to easily decline an incoming call with a text message, or be reminded to return the call later. A “Do Not Disturb” setting will allow people to sleep next to their phone without being bothered all night.
The Safari web browser is going to receive a number of enhancements. A significant hole will be been filled, as users will be able to upload images to forms on web pages. And pages that are saved in the Reading List will be cached to they can be read offline.
Apple is adding a new feature to the Email app: messages from the people the user specifies as VIPs will get special notifications, even appearing on the Lock screen. Messages from these people will go into a special mailbox.
In addition, some long-held limitations of the email app are going away. For the first time, users will be able to add images and video from the compose window of an already-started message, and support for different signatures for each email account.
Apple has added an often-requested feature: users will be able to make FaceTime video calls over a 3G or 4G cellular-wireless connection, not just Wi-Fi.
A new application called Passbook will help organize movie tickets bought online, as well as airline boarding passes and coupons. Users will be notified automatically if something about a ticket or pass changes, like a move to a new boarding gate.
Users will be able to share a photo stream with a selected group of their friends.
Coming this Fall
CEO Tim Cook finished his presentation with a bit of bad news: iOS 6 isn’t going to be released until the fall. This means it will likely debut running on the next-generation iPhone, which is also anticipated at about that same time.
Those with an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and an iPhone 4S will get an upgrade to this upcoming version. Those with an iPad 2 and a third-generation iPad will be able to install it as well. For those who cannot wait, a beta on iOS 6 was released this afternoon.
Other Apple Announcements from the WWDC
iOS 6 wasn’t the focus at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. Cook started the show by talking about a new MacBook Pro with a Retina display.
He also gave new details on OS X Mountain Lion, an updated version of its desktop and laptop operating system. With this version — coming in July — Apple is going to bring many of the features that were first available on iOS to OS X, including iMessage, iCloud, and the Notification Center.