By Molly McHughProvided by
Yesterday Apple opened the iOS 6 vault and plenty of the expected and unexpected came spilling out. While we've only begun to brush the surface of everything new to iOS 6, here's a quick look at the biggest changes hitting your phone this fall -- or if you get the beta version, today.
Siri's getting smarter
When Siri was first introduced, it was the hot new iPhone 4 feature. While it certainly stole the announcement day spotlight, it's since been criticized for failing to integrate with more apps to further its use. Lucky for us, iOS 6 has come along to right these wrongs.
Siri works with Yelp and Opentable now, as well as Fandango. It's also now able to launch apps, a long-requested feature.
Siri has gotten smarter throughout the last eight months: you can request more specific information from Siri -- during today's press conference, Apple demoed Siri's ability to recall sports news from the night before, or many years past (i.e., who has the highest batting average in the history of baseball?).
Perhaps the biggest step for the voice assistant software is that it's seeing some big-time integration with car makers: BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, and GM are among the manufacturers that will support Siri for instant, hands-free, in-car use.
Finally, Siri is making its way to the iPad. It's been a long-time coming, and if Siri can show up in your car, it can certainly show up on the tablet.
Facebook, meet iPhone
In another announcement we all saw coming from a mile away, iOS 6 will sport native Facebook integration. Like iOS 5 did with Twitter, Facebook will be baked in to every element of the iPhone so you can instantly post photos, your location, or links.
Facebook will also help out Apple with its App Store problem. Users will be able to see what apps their Facebook friends are using and liking, so iOS can leverage the relevancy of Facebook in order to spur better recommendations. This mechanism will also work with content like music, TV, and movies.
The contact list will also be getting Facebook-infused, and the iCal will sport Facebook events and birthdays automatically.
iPhone upgrades Phone
The phone app has gotten a little facelift. It's a subtle but important change that allows you to better communicate with all those calls you have to hit ignore for -- you can send a ping indicating you can't talk, or are on your way, or create your own custom message. There's also a new "Do Not Disturb" mode so you can turn all alerts off at night -- if a call is repeatedly being made to your phone, it will be treated as an emergency call and pushed through.
Simple Safari improvements
Safari, while quite popular thanks to the iPhone's reach, is hardly the best mobile browser experience out there. Now come a few crucial tweaks: you can add content to an offline reading list which automatically downloads it and caches the story.
There's also a new addition that developers and Web publishers will probably start thanking their lucky stars for. Smart App Banners are now available for site's that have iOS apps. If a reader access your site via Safari, a prompt to direct them to the corresponding app in the App Store will appear. If the reader goes ahead and downloads it, they can pick up reading in the app right where they left off on the mobile site.
Users will also now be able to upload photos to Web forms on the iPhone, a feature that's been long-missing.
Photo Stream sharing
Apple has hardly cornered the photo-sharing market, but it's still hammering away on making its proprietary photo product more accessible. You can now create shared Photo Streams with your friends. Commenting is enabled as well. The update will apply to Photo Stream across devices and platforms as well: Mac, Apple TV, and Web will all let you access these shared galleries.
Goodbye, Google Maps
Next up on the list of "saw it coming from a mile away" would be Maps. "We've built an entirely new mapping solution from the ground up, and it is beautiful. We're doing all the cartography ourselves… this is a worldwide effort; we're covering the world."
And with those words Apple launched its attack on Google Maps, which unveiled its own updates last week. The Apple client appears to be a competitive attempt, with Yelp integration and real-time traffic reporting, which Apple says its using anonymous crowd-sourced data to create.
Turn-by-turn navigation is also built-in, which is naturally voiced by Siri. The application can also re-route you depending on the traffic situation, and it will also offer up an ETA and offer answers along the way (again, thanks to Siri). It's all operable from the lock screen.
Apple outfitted Maps with 3D capability, called Flyover, from which you can find pop-up displays showing reviews and ratings of locations.
Apple said that the best apps for metro transit are made by third party developers, and that Apple has used this data.
(Read more about iOS Maps.)
Passbook is a new app for iOS that acts like simplified version of a digital wallet. You can store e-passes and cards in Passbook: Starbucks cards, boarding passes, Fandango purchases, etc. The interface looks like a stack of -- surprise -- credit cards, where you can immediately view your balance from. It's a really nice, simple way to store electronic accounts and digging to redeem your smartphone-supported purchases just got a whole lot easier.
(Read more about Passbook.)
In Case You Missed It:
- Screenshots of Apple's next mobile operating system, iOS 6- Lodsys switching tactics, now going after Android developers- Pay for play: Are marketers manipulating Apple's App Store rankings?- Analyst says iPhone 5 was Steve Jobs' last project; expected this summer
This article was originally posted on Digital Trends