|iOS 6: Big Changes and Additions|
|As was the case with every iOS release before it, Apple is promising some fairly major enhancements and new features with iOS 6. iOS 5 was a major release in its own right, bringing Siri -- a voice-controlled assistant -- to the mix and yet again raising the bar in mobile operating systems. It also introduced a drop-down Notification shade, similar to that which was already a part of Android. But a year has come and gone, and at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this past week, the veil was removed from iOS 6. The beta version actually became available for devs to download a few days ago, getting the new code into the hands of those that produce the apps in the jam-packed App Store.
Apple apparently has a thing for offering "200 new features" in their operating systems; iOS 6 seems to be following Mountain Lion in that regard. 200 tweaks may sound like a lot (and it is), but there are a few key additions, updates and changes with iOS 6 that deserve a closer look. Let's dive into the biggest upcoming changes that could have even Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone loyalists thinking twice about Apple's iPhone.
Apple's Maps -
It goes without saying that this is a dagger in the heart of Google. Apple and Google have been friction-filled partners for years, with Google's map data populating iOS throughout. But all of that changes with iOS 6. A Googlefied version of its mapping system will surely still be available in the App Store, but the default option will be one cooked up by Apple. Here's what you need to know:
A More Mature Siri -
Facebook Integration -
Enhanced FaceTime -
New Phone Dialer Features -
Talk about a good way to get people to actually use the Safari browser on the desktop. iCloud Tabs keeps track of which pages you have open on your devices, so you can start browsing on one device and pick up right where you left off on whatever device is handy. Safari now saves web pages — not just links — in your Reading List, so you can catch up on your reading even when you can’t connect to the Internet.
Guided Access -
Apple really doesn't get enough credit for this, but the company is working hard to bring iOS to those with disabilities. Guided Access helps students with disabilities remain on task and focused on content. It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. VoiceOver, a screen reader technology for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom.
Not bad, right? Certainly not for free, if you're an iPhone 4S user. And these updates will definitely have people considering the switch to the iPhone 5 once both (presumably) hit in the fall. But, it's not a done deal for Apple. iOS 6 still has a lot of holes, which we'll discuss on the next page...
|iOS 6: What's Missing In Apple's Mobile OS Approach|
|We won't know for sure that iOS 6 is the complete package until the final version arrives in the fall, but the beta has a few gaping holes that we've been hoping to see fixed for years. Such as…
Keyboard Support -
We're now on the sixth iteration of iOS, and there's still no option to choose a different keyboard layout, style, etc. On Android, you can install entirely new keyboards like Swype and SwiftKey, which can greatly cut down on how long it takes to input messages. We're sure this is Apple's way of ensuring a consistent experience across all iOS-based devices, but giving users some choice for input would be welcome nonetheless.
Siri's Knowledge Base -
We understand that Siri is still relatively immature, but she's still misses more than we would like. Being able to open an app with one's voice is all well and good, but Apple needs to open up the API so that developers can allow Siri to talk to their apps. Imagine a situation where you could say: "Siri, open MOG and play my Pop Music playlist." Or, how about: "Siri, open WorldMate and tell me how long I have between my two flights today." Siri needs this deep app integration to be truly smart and immensely more useful. We also wish she had better access to internet databases. If we could say: "Siri, what is Larry Ellison's Twitter handle?" and get a real answer read back, or even better, automatically added to Twitter, that'd be a huge step. Why can't we say: "Siri, check in here on Foursquare, I'm at AT&T Park in San Francisco."? As she exists today, Siri is a hobbled assistant.
Offline Mapping -
An Intelligent Lock Screen -
It's time for Apple to offer an intelligent lockscreen, especially since a jailbreak app in the Cydia app store has done this for quite some time. We need a lock screen that is customizable, and capable of showing the information you specify from all apps -- including Sparrow, Gmail and other alternative email applications. We'd also like to see a settings shortcut bar in the lock screen, with one-touch access to Airplane Mode, Bluetooth On/Off, etc. The lack of control is a killer in our opinion.
Data Usage Meter -
All in all, it's obvious that iOS 6 offers many refinements and updates, and plenty of new things to enjoy. But now that we've been teased by Siri for a while, we're expecting much more. We hope that Apple makes a few more updates with future iOS 6 releases as it gets closer to launch. It's likely, however, that the major additions that we've mentioned here won't see the light of day at least until iOS 7's release… if at all. Meanwhile, we hope Windows Phone, BB 10 and Android continue to push their respective envelopes; the competition certainly isn't a bad thing for consumers. Whereas just a couple of years ago iOS represented the pinnacle of mobile OSes, it now trails in spots and is still playing catch-up in a number of key areas.