If history is any guide, iOS 6 will be available at the same time that Apple refreshes the iPhone, likely in September or October.
But at WWDC Apple made an early beta version available to developers, and added a page to its website outlining some of the features that we can expect in iOS 6.
At a high level, iOS 6 consolidates the lead that Apple has in the mobile space, and makes it harder for competitors to catch up.
Apple claims 200 new features are in iOS 6 but, as normal, has only highlighted a few of them. I’ve provided an outline below of the important ones, and some of the smaller ones I think will make a big impact.
There’s still no development API for Siri (which means developers can’t write apps that work with it) but Siri is a lot smarter than before. As well as being able to answer questions about sports and movies (these features are still unconfirmed for the Australian market), Siri can now launch apps so you can say ‘Open Facebook’ and Siri will start the Facebook app.
Siri can also post directly to Facebook and Twitter, something that’s clearly important to do hands-free.
Just like iOS 5 included tight Twitter integration, iOS 6 includes tight Facebook integration. Now that Facebook is a system-wide setting you’ll only need to log in once, a big time saver. Facebook integration also means you’ll be able to post things to your Facebook wall from many apps, including the built-in Photos app.
At first Passbook looks like an innocent little app that lets you bring together all of your tickets and passes in a simple app. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Passbook do more than hold your tickets and passes in the future, especially if Apple chooses to add NFC technology to future iOS devices. If that’s the case, Passbook might just be your next wallet.
In the quest to own all the core technology in iOS Apple has been buying various mapping companies over the past few years. All of these acquisitions have resulted in the new Maps app in iOS 6.
The app works in a similar manner to the existing Maps app but relies on Apple’s mapping tiles, which have a very different look and feel to Google’s mapping tiles. In addition, Apple has built-in turn-by-turn navigation, so Siri will actually talk
to you and explain how to get to your destination. Look out for a full review of Maps in the next couple of months.
FACETIME OVER 3G
FaceTime is a feature I have used more than I originally expected but I’m still frustrated that I can’t use it when I’m out and about, away from a Wi-Fi network. In iOS 6 that restriction has been dropped, so you’ll be able to use FaceTime anywhere, anytime. This is an important feature, but just make sure you’ve got an adequate 3G data plan.
OFFLINE READING LISTS IN SAFARI
If you’ve ever wanted to save a webpage for reading later than you’ll love the new offline reader mode in Safari. Simply add the page to your reading list and Safari will automatically download the article and make it available offline.
Perfect for when you jump on a plane and want to continue surfing.
There are already third-party apps that let you do this, like Instapaper, but with full integration through Safari this will be a must-have feature.