WWDC 2012: Apple Announces iOS 6 – Siri Learns New Things, Apple Maps and More

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As we confirmed yesterday, Apple has revealed its latest software upgrade for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch – iOS 6.

Siri Learns New Tricks

Siri will receive its first upgrade since launching on the iPhone 4S last October, with new features and ways to interact with your iPhone. Apple demonstrated Siri bringing up sports scores and further details – asking what a particular baseball player’s batting average brought up a neat profile with the information, for example.

Apple also showed Siri bringing up plenty of information about basketball too, and a partnership with OpenTable brings detailed information on restaurants, which of course will still only work in the US. An integration with film ratings site Rotten Tomatoes means that users will be able to search for film times at their local cinema and then view ratings and watch a trailer before booking.

At long last Siri will now launch apps, including third party ones. Something along the lines of ‘Play Angry Birds’ should do the trick. Apple’s slideshows also showed that Siri will now allow us to Tweet, listen to notifications and FaceTime somebody.

Apple also revealed an interesting new feature called Eyes Free. By partnering with select car manufacturers, a button to launch Siri will be added to cars in the future, allowing you to open the app and speak without looking at the phone. Current manufacturers on board include BMW, Jaguar, Honda, Toyota and Land Rover.

At long last, Siri will be able to perform local searches around the world, and not just in the US. That means that iPhone 4S and iPad users in the UK will be able to ask Siri to find them the nearest restaurant, cash point or hospital. Did we say iPad? That’s right; Apple is bringing Siri to the iPad with iOS 6.

Facebook Integration

As Apple did with Twitter in iOS 4, Facebook will now be deeply integrated into iOS. Users will be able to share content from native apps including Photos, App Store and Maps, and Facebook notifications will come right into the Notification Centre.

You’ll be able to post to Twitter and Facebook from the Notification Center now, and Apps, Films, TV Shows and Music can be ‘Liked’ from within the App Store and iTunes Store apps.

Facebook events will automatically appear in your Calendar app, and contacts from the social network will be brought into the Contacts app on your iOS device.

Google Maps Out, Apple Maps In

As had been heavily rumoured, iOS 6 will lose Google Maps for the first time since the first iPhone was announced. Not to worry though, as Apple has created its own version to replace it. It has a silver interface with a funky 3D option, Yelp integration for viewing over 100 million businesses as info cards, and a traffic service called ‘Incident Reports’ which updates in real time.

Apple Maps features turn-by-turn satellite navigation with intelligent routing and re-routing based on the traffic reports. It’s also integrated with Siri, so you can tell your phone where to take you, where to find petrol on the way, and how long is left of the journey. Apple demonstrated the age-old question of “are we nearly there yet?” to which Siri replied “Relax and enjoy the drive. You’ll be there in 14 minutes”.

Finally, a stunning feature called Flyover gives you an aerial view of cities in 3D – it looks almost real. When viewing in 3D users can select popular landmarks and buildings to view information about it in a pop out box. This looks very impressive.

Calls and Missed Calls

iOS 6 will offer the user a better selection of options when receiving a call. Now you can opt to reject a call by sending a text message, with a selection of popular replies available to send within just a few taps.

Do Not Disturb

Another feature that we’ve been dying to have on our iPhones for some time. Do Not Disturb can be turned on in the settings menu, and it means that your iOS device will still receive messages, emails and more, it just won’t vibrate or emit a tone to wake you up or disturb you.

However, you can select certain contacts to be your ‘favourites’, and tell the Do Not Disturb feature to still allow these calls through, so you won’t miss them.

FaceTime Over 3G

Something we felt would happen thanks to some hints in iOS 5, Apple will now allow iOS users to make FaceTime video calls when using their mobile network. No longer will you be forced to connect to Wi-Fi to make a FaceTime call, now you’ll be able to make and receive them provided you have a data connection – just make sure you don’t exceed your data allowance.

Safari Updates

Safari will update to add the iCloud Tabs feature we mentioned in our post on OS X Mountain Lion. This allows your tabs to be synchronized wirelessly between iOS and OS X 10.8 devices. Your reading list will be available to make offline, meaning that you can effectively save web pages to read when you don’t have a connection.

Finally, tilt your iPhone to landscape mode and Safari will automatically go into fullscreen mode, removing the status bar to make more room to view images and videos.

Mail Improvements

You’ll now be able to create ‘VIP Mailboxes’ within Mail to separate emails from your really important contacts. A little tweak, but a useful one for sure.

Photos and videos can be easily inserted from within the compose window, something that until now has been missing, which seems crazy. We can almost here the sound of millions of Apple fans saying ‘FINALLY’ at the same time.

Passbook App

Apple launched a new app of its own for iOS 6, called Passbook. This app is designed to collate your e-tickets, vouchers and passes in one place for easy finding and opening. Apple demonstrated opening up a store voucher, boarding pass for a flight and even your Apple Store gift card, which will show the remaining balance and a QR code for the store to scan.

Lost Mode

Lost Mode works with the Find My iPhone feature, allowing you to send a message from the web to your lost iPhone. The fortunate finder of your iPhone can then call you back (even if the phone is locked) to arrange its safe return – yeah, right.

The Beta version of iOS 6 will be available today for developers, and will launch in autumn, presumably on the iPhone 5. It will work on the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, 4th gen iPod Touch and iPad 2nd and 3rd gen. Original iPad owners will be stuck with iOS 5.1.1 unfortunately. As always, the upgrade will be free and can be installed over the air or via iTunes.

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