Everything You Need To Know About Apple’s iOS 6

Following our coverage of Android’s new OS Jelly Bean last week, Tommy Collison covers everything we should expect when Apple’s new OS is released.

Just over a month ago, Apple debuted the newest incarnation of its iOS mobile operating system. Scott Forstall took to the stage at WWDC on June 11 and demoed just some of the 200 new features and improvements. In this post, we’ll look at what those improvements are, as well as look at some news stories regarding the new operating system.

First, let’s look at the big new features:

Maps

Apple has designed all new maps for iOS, replacing Google’s own. They now integrate with Yelp, and provide anonymous, crowd-sourced and real-time traffic reports. Turn-by-turn navigation comes to the iPhone, vector-based and starring Siri. Public transport has been outsourced to third-party apps, which means that the best apps of the App Store will provide public transport directions in the new app.

Siri

Siri, Apple’s voice-based personal assistance interface, got a host of new features in iOS 6. As well as now being able to launch apps and tweet for you, Siri is now more knowledgeable about sports, restaurants, and movies. For the sporty iPhone users, Siri can access scores, game summaries, and player stats. It now integrates with Yelp and OpenTable for restaurant reviews and reservations, and can now integrate with Rotten Tomatoes for movie times and reviews.

In addition, Siri is now available on the iPad, comes in several new languages and gets hands-free integration in several new car manufactures in the near future.

New Facebook Integration

Just like Twitter got system-wide integration in iOS 5, Facebook has received a big boost with almost the same integration in iOS 6. Users can log into their Facebook account and access it from Safari and Siri, as well as ‘liking’ apps and music. Developers can add access within their own apps, too.

Facebook contacts will be integrated in iOS 6, and Facebook events and contact birthdays will be synced with the calendar.

Safari

Safari now has Instapaper-like offline reading lists, which sync with the Reading List in Safari on the Mac. iCloud will now syncs tabs so that you can pick up browsing wherever you left off. Full-screen landscape has also been introduced, so you can take websites fullscreen with just a tap.

Alongside these features, there’s been a few interesting news tidbits regarding iOS 6 appearing online too. Let’s examine the most pertinent ones:

iOS Maps coming to OS X

Apple’s new mapping technology could be coming to Mac computers in the near future as well. According to Technically Personal, iOS developer Cody Cooper found an interesting piece of code (namely, a mention of Intel graphic chipsets in an XML file) in the iOS 6 maps application which hints at the possibility of Apple Maps coming to Macs in the near future.

Certainly, Maps coming to Mac would fit with Apple’s desire to unify iOS and OS X.

Apple Clamps Down on Sites that Sell iOS Beta Access

When iOS 6 was announced, its release date was set for the fall of this year. However, in order to get their apps ready for release, registered developers are allowed access from June. In recent years, third-party sites have sprung up, allowing non-developers to gain early access to the beta software. To install an iOS beta, developers must register their device’s UDID (Unique Device IDentifier) with Apple, and being a developer costs $99 a year. Third-party sites, however, can sell UDID activation for around $10.

Recently, MacStories has been reporting that Apple has been clamping down on such sites, saying that “Apple had been “fairly heavy-handed” with DMCA requests to UDID-selling sites hosted on their network.”

According to the Wired article that preceded the shutdowns:

“For a small developer, unauthorized activations are a lucrative business that’s likely worth the risks. UDID Activation publishes their order queue on their official site, which shows more than 2,300 devices activated in the last week alone. At $8.99 for each activation, that’s more than $20,600 in revenue, with $2,277 paid to Apple for the 23 developer accounts. Their homepage claims that more than 19,000 devices were activated so far, and that’s only one of several services.”

Closing Remarks

So there you have it! iOS 6 reportedly comes with over 200 new features, so undoubtedly we’ll discover new stuff in the coming weeks and months that hasn’t been mentioned here.

There’s been a couple of complaints from people who say that iOS is only an incremental upgrade without many new features. I think that as an operating system, iOS is maturing and, in general, we’re going to see fewer dramatic overhauls of the OS, instead seeing incremental changes and polishes as Apple refines what it already has. In general, I think developers are going to notice a bigger difference than users.

According to Apple, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad 3, and iPod touch 4th gen will all run iOS 6. A loose release date has been set for the fall of this year.

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