Apple’s iOS 6 Includes a Smarter Siri, Facebook Integration, and New Maps App

With the final item in the deluge of Apple posts, the company debuted iOS 6 and many of its over 200 new features.

Predictably, Siri got plenty of attention in this OS update. She is now available in the iPad as well as the iPhone, and she speaks English, French, German, and Japanese, with new support for Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

More than that, however, Siri’s been “learning” a lot since she was born 8 months ago; if the demo at WWDC is to be believed, she’s learned a lot about sports, films, places to eat, and how to launch apps. It’s essentially Google searching without any typing and with specific and uncluttered results, plus of course the ability to open apps.

Hands-free technology has been important in vehicle safety for years, and now Apple is touting “eyes free” tech. Apple is working with a number of car manufacturers to add a steering wheel button that activated Siri; many are planning to implement such a button within a years’ time.

Facebook integration has gone deeper in iOS 6. You can put your Facebook login credentials in your iPhone’s settings, which keeps you and your apps deeply connected to Facebook. The notification center, Siri, the App Store, and contact information will be connected to Facebook, as well. For example, you can see which apps your friends like, see Facebook events on your iPhone calendar, and so on. You can also interact with Facebook and Twitter notifications right from the Notification Center.

As expected, Apple introduced a new Maps app, which will include local search; traffic information with real-time crowdsourced data; Siri integration, Flyover, which offers 3D models of major metropolitan areas; and turn-by-turn directions.

The latest way to share photos is Shared Photo Streams, which allows users to select a photo, choose friends to share it with, and those friends can instantly see the photos on their iOS devices, Macs, or Apple TVs.

Passbook is an app that keeps all your “passes”--that is tickets to events, travel tickets, store loyalty cards, and so on--in one place. Whenever you go to a place with your coupon, ticket, pass, card, or what have you, it’ll pop up, even on your lock screen, with live updates to, for example, a gate change at the airport. Once you use an item, Passbook can automatically dispose of it, too.

There are a slew of other updates as well, including iCloud tabs, offline reading lists, photo uploads, and full screen views in Safari; the ability to use FaceTime over cellular networks; the ability to designate VIPs for your mailbox to ensure you see those messages first; and upgrades to the Phone app such as the ability to decline calls with a quick message, callback reminders, and a handy Do Not Disturb option for calls and messages that come through while you’re sleeping.

iOS 6 is coming to the iPhone and iPad this fall, and iOS devs already have a beta version to play with.
Tags:  Mobile, Apple, Maps, WWDC, ios, Siri