iOS 6 Playing It Safe (Part 1)

9/14/2012 9:02:28 AM

Mark Oakley rounds up the key features of Apple’s forthcoming OS update

These could have been difficult times for Apple. The departure of a CEO always threatens to have a major impact on any company, but when that CEO is the guy who essentially embodies everything about said firm, the ramifications could be immense.

Description: What's new in iOS 6?

What's new in iOS 6?

Fair play, then to Tim Cook, a man who has successfully taken over the mantle from Steve Jobs and raised the company’s stock in the process. The iPad 3 has been every bit as well received as its predecessors were and while there has yet to be any surprises on the hardware front, Cook has more than managed to keep the flag flying high on the good ship Cupertino.

Next up for the company is the latest version of its mobile operating system for iPads, iPhones and iPods: iOS 6. Announced at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, something close to a tech nirvana for Apple developers the world over, iOS 6 was high on the agenda, promising to take your device in ‘entirely new directions’. Does the rhetoric match reality? Here are the key features you need to know.

Description: iOS 6

iOS 6

Siri steps up

Apple’s much-touted voice-activated personal assistant and all-round clever clogs Siri has been given a serious tinkering in iOS 6, with Apple placing far more emphasis on the applications surrounding the technology than ever before.

Siri will provide information on sports scores and statistics, restaurant and cinema listings, and will even allow users to make Facebook and Twitter post which is quite a leap forward and further solidifies the relationship between all concerned. Significantly, Siri will be made available on the iPad 3 too, having previously been an iPhone 4S-only affair.

Bear in mind that Siri has been with us now for less than a year and already Apple is pushing this functionality more than almost any other. The iCloud gets its fair amount of attention, sure, but Apple’s adverts tend to focus on the genius of Siri more than anything else. With it coming to the latest iPad as well, expect more of the same going forward.

Siri will also be able to launch apps, which is a far more useful function, and perhaps most impressively, the technology will soon be at a car garage near you, thanks to its Eyes Free feature. Apple is working with car manufacturers on an in-vehicle button, which will trigger Siri from the steering wheel. Cool, although we imagine this will be installed in the snazziest cars around.

Goodbye Google Maps

Another major feature of iOS 6, perhaps the biggest of them all, is Apple’s ditching of Google Maps, in favour for its own mapping service. Why is this significant? Because it demonstrates Apple’s desire to forge ahead on its own without the help of third parties where possible, allowing it to bring advertisers on board and make more money. For Google, it merely marks the beginning of its own 3D mapping service, which it’s bringing to Android.

Description: iOS 6 waves goodbye to Google Maps

iOS 6 waves goodbye to Google Maps

Apple’s Maps will have 3D capability too, and this app, which has been built from the ground up, will arguably be the first toy we’ll all be playing with when the update comes in. Maps will use a vector-based engine keeping text and graphics clear and allowing for smoother, more responsive pan and zoom features.

You’ll be able to use Maps as a sat-nav, because traffic updates are provided and it will speak directions on a turn- by-turn level and from the looks of the preview images, large arrows and gorgeous vistas will pave the way here to give the likes of TomTom a run for their money. The most attractive feature comes courtesy of Flyover, providing photo-realistic, interactive 3D images of cities in high-resolution.

On paper, at least, this could really take off.

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