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Apple’s iOS6 Operating System: GPS Navigation, PassBook & Facebook Integration

grand master



iOS 6.jpgApple 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


Maps.jpgSince 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


Wallet.jpgiOS6 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.


Facebook Integration


facebook.pngOver 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…


FaceTime.jpgAs well as the main additions of a new mapping and navigation service, a mobile wallet and together social network integration with Facebook, other key additions in iOS6 include:


  • Siri for iPad. The iPhone 4S introduced Siri, a voice-controlled virtual assistant. Apple is making Siri available to iPad owners with iOS6.

  • FaceTime Video Calls over 3G. FaceTime is Apple’s video calling service which is currently available for iPhone and iPad over wi-fi. With iOS6, Apple is allowing FaceTime calls to be placed over 3G networks. FaceTime calls can be picked up either from your Mac, iPad or iPhone when configured with your Apple ID. Note that FaceTime video calls are not compatible with standard 3G video calls so you can’t use it to call your friends on Android or Windows Phone.

  • Do Not Disturb. We’re all used to regularly silencing our phones before going into a meeting, but what about the important phone calls you just can’t miss? iOS6 contains a new ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode which silences your handset for everyone except from a selected group of contacts. The phone can also be configured to allow ‘Repeated Calls’: if somebody calls you multiple times in succession, successive phone calls will not be silenced. ‘Do Not Disturb’ can also be scheduled to turn on at certain times: for example overnight.

  • Shared Photo Streams. iOS6 contains the ability to share a “photo stream” with your friends. Like shared photos on Facebook, friends are able to comment on photos and like them on the shared photo stream.

Your thoughts…


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!


Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

Great info iOS6, shame to see the first iPad not being able to update to it, but lots of interesting things, thanks
Sounds to me as though they are playing catch up with Android these days. It's biggest feature is a map service? Really? Guess it's another update I'll have to wait for a jailbreak for on my iPad as well, sigh...
Great news. My two cents. Having to wait till autumn is a pitfall with Apple though. They show us the candy and tell us you have to be good for three months to get it. Frustrating. Overall, it does look like Apple is just trying to catch-up with ICS. Almost all of the features introduced with iOS 6 have been in Android for years. The PassBook does sound interesting, but I'm sure there have already been many apps providing that service since ages. Personally, I want to see how I'll be able to use it to pay for stuff. That would be a great addition. Facebook integration is much awaited. Some of my mates use a sync app to sync co facts from Facebook, Gmail and LinkedIn all at once. This, in my opinion, should be integrated with the OS. Still, Facebook integration is the first step. R
heavy hitter

Hi everyone - Just a heads up I'm making a video blog for the main blog on the WWDC conference and it will be live next monday, As this blog post has covered most of the iOS news I'll focus more on the new models.

Keep an eye out on the blog if youre interested! Smiley Happy



Not all the iOS 6 features will work on all devices. Cnet UK have done a run-down of what features might be missing from your iOS device dependant on hardware:



iPhone 4S

As the most recent model, the iPhone 4S has all the features of iOS 6 present and correct. So there's the new own-brand Maps app, updated Siri and Safari, Facebook integration, 3G FaceTime, and a new-look phone app. Plus there's the photo stream to share snaps to the web, and a new data-storing Passbook. The 4S is also the only Apple device to support officially certified Made for iPhone hearing aids.


iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 gets many of the new features in iOS 6 -- but not all. Kicking off with the Maps app, the iPhone 4 won't get sat nav-style turn-by-turn directions or the 3D Flyover mode. We're not too fussed about missing out on Flyover -- the 3D-modelled cities in Android's Google Maps look lovely but are distracting when you just want to get around.

But turn-by-turn directions are far more useful and are a serious omission. Instead, you'll have to turn to third-party apps such as TomTom or CoPilot.

The other thing missing from the iPhone 4 is Siri. Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant has a tonne of new features in iOS 6, but none of them are coming to the iPhone 4, 3GS or older.


iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS will get iOS 6, but as with the iPhone 4, turn-by-turn navigation, 3D flyover and Siri are missing. The 3GS also misses out on shared photo streams, 3G FaceTime and VIP smart mailbox. And there's no offline reading in Safari, but you can still stick with the likes of article-saving apps Instapaper and Pocket (formerly known as Read It Later).

But we're more worried about what the update will do to the phone's performance -- just because the new software will work on the phone doesn't mean it'll improve things. We remember when previous updates arrived on the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and slowed those older phones down to a horrifying extent. We suggest waiting to see how other 3GS owners get on before



New iPad

On to Apple's tablets. As with the 4S, the new iPad is the latest model and so is blessed with the full range of iOS 6 features -- including, for the first time, voice-controlled smart-aleck Siri.


iPad 2

The iPad 2 gets iOS 6 and all the new features and apps, including turn-by-turn navigation and 3D flyover in the new Maps app. But there's no love for Siri: the chirpy voice-controlled personal assistant remains exclusive to the iPhone 4S and new iPad.



The original iPad adds the new Maps app, but misses out on turn-by-turn directions and the 3D Flyover mode. At the time of writing it seems that the original iPad won't get the update, so there's no access to shared photo streams, no 3G FaceTime, and no VIP smart mailbox. Like the iPhone 3GS, if you want to save an article to read later, you'll need a third-party app because Safari won't save articles for you. And of course, Siri says no siree.

good blog, ios6 sounds interesting
lives and breathes giffgaff
I've git the new iPad a 4s so I get all the goodies but it's not that exciting to me to be honest

It is good to see Apple trying to catch up so Android can have some competition.

I agree, most of the feature are catch-up from android but apple add their own little buzz to make them better then before!
rocket scientist
im gonna miss street view