Apple typically releases a new update to the operating system on the iPhone and iPad every year – and this year is no exception. Whilst most of us were glued to our TV screens during England’s Euro 2012 game with France last night, Apple were holding an event at their annual WWDC developer conference in California to announce the latest version of their mobile operating system: iOS6.
According to Apple, the successor to iOS 5 contains “over 200 new features”. These features include a brand new maps application with free turn-by-turn GPS navigation, live traffic information and 3D maps. It also includes a basic mobile wallet called PassBook which can collate together your electronic boarding passes, loyalty card and cinema tickets. Tight integration with Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, has also been added.
iOS6 was released as a preview to application developers yesterday but will not be available to end users until this autumn (last year Apple announced iOS 5 at WWDC before finally releasing it to consumers during October). When released in the Autumn, iOS6 will be compatible with the following devices:
In this article, we look at Apple’s new operating system and what it means for you. We’ll also compare iOS6 with Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich – the popular operating system that is found on handsets such as the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Maps: GPS Navigation, Traffic Conditions & 3D Maps
Since the launch of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple has made use of the mapping service provided by Google on the iPhone. As widely rumoured, iOS6 dispenses of Google’s service and replaces it with an entirely new maps and navigation service from Apple. The new iOS6 Maps application makes use of data from TomTom and OpenStreetMap and provides free turn-by-turn GPS navigation, adds crowdsourced traffic data and the ability to view maps in 3D. These are features that have been found in the Android version of Google Maps but have so far been missing from the iPhone version.
The addition of GPS navigation to iOS6 also makes it possible to use your iPhone in place of a dedicated GPS navigation device. The new GPS navigation service in iOS6 works in much the same way as in any other dedicated GPS device: voice guided driving instructions are provided as well as automatic rerouting during heavy traffic conditions. It is also possible to interact with the GPS application using Siri voice recognition by asking questions such as “Are we there yet?”
Google have provided a free turn-by-turn GPS navigation service for Android handsets since 2010 (Android 1.6 and later is required). With the launch of GPS navigation on iOS6 as well as Android, it is likely that an increasing number of us will be ditching our dedicated GPS devices and replacing them with our smartphones. One downside of using the iPhone for GPS navigation is its small screen size: the 3.5-inch display is significantly smaller than the 5 or 6-inch display found on most GPS devices. Instead, the large screen size of Android devices such as the HTC One X (4.7-inch), Samsung Galaxy S III (4.8-inch) and the Samsung Galaxy Note (5.3-inch) can be preferable for GPS navigation.
One side effect of Apple’s move away from Google for the Maps application in iOS6 is that iOS6 will lack Google’s ‘Street View’ capability.
PassBook: A mobile wallet for boarding passes and loyalty cards
iOS6 contains a new mobile wallet feature called ‘PassBook’. The aim of ‘PassBook’ is to provide a centralised location for loyalty cards, boarding passes, movie tickets and more. We’ve previously looked at the mobile wallet and how you can pay for stuff using your mobile phone.
Whilst iPhone users can already use a range of applications to pay for goods on their handset, ‘PassBook’ integrates together these features into one central location with the added bonus of GPS geolocation to bring up the most relevant payment methods. This can save a lot of time especially if you’ve got a lot of cards: for example iOS6 will automatically bring up the Starbucks payment card when it determines you’re at a Starbucks.
Unfortunately, as all iPhone devices currently lack NFC hardware, it won’t be possible pay for goods by tapping your phone on a reader. Instead, payment and ticketing will work by displaying a barcode on your iPhone’s display which must be scanned.
Over 800 million of us now use Facebook on a regular basis – often before we even get out of bed. To this extent, many of us are demanding greater integration with Facebook in our smartphones. We’ve discussed the idea of a Facebook phone before at the giffgaff blog and many of you enjoyed the integration with Facebook that is found in Google’s Android operating system. iOS6 attempts to bring this level of integration to the iPhone.
With iOS6, Apple has integrating Facebook directly into the operating system. Like on Android, iOS6 can connect to your Facebook account and will automatically bring in details about your friends such as when their birthday is and the phone number from their profile. This information is automatically imported into your calendar and phone book ensuring that you won’t forget your friend’s special day and you won’t have the hassle of keeping up with your friend’s phone number changes. You’ll also be able to update your status and tweet directly from the Notification Centre. Other apps on your phone will also be given the option to integrate into Facebook to make it easier to share your high scores or achievements. Altogether, iOS6 is likely to make using your handset a much more social experience.
The Rest: Siri for iPad, Facetime, ‘Do Not Disturb’ and more…
Apple’s new iOS6 operating system contains a range of new features such as a new GPS navigation service, a mobile wallet to store your boarding passes and tickets and increased integration with social networks such as Facebook. Other additions include the ability to use Siri on the iPad, the ability to make FaceTime calls over 3G and a more intelligent ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode.
Were you impressed by the iOS6 announcement? How do you think iOS6 compares to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the variety of Android user interfaces such as HTC Sense and TouchWiz? Do you think Apple simply playing catch-up to Google with iOS6? How does the iPhone 4S compare to the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III with the addition of iOS6? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!
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