Apple announced enhancements on most of its mobile devices, namely a new operating system, its own maps application to replace Google maps, and a built in Facebook feature.
In the preview version sent to application developers, the iOS 6 software boasts of more than 200 new features. Not applicable to all Apple devices, iOS 6 will be a free upgrade for iPhones sold since 2009, 2011 to 2012 iPad models, and newer iPod Touch devices.
Highlights of the new software include a built in mapping program to replace Google Maps. This relinquishing of Google Inc’s app is due to the increasing rivalry of the two companies, with Google pushing its Android phones over iPhones.
Apple’s new Maps app will have a voice navigation feature, real-time traffic data, alternative routes, and 3D “flyover” images taken by helicopters that will fly over major cities. Maps will also be integrated with virtual assistant Siri, effectively transforming it into a GPS.
The iOS6 will also have further integration with Facebook, allowing use of a variety of apps after only a one-time log in. Users can post about websites directly from Apple’s Safari browser, and can even “like” specific apps in Apple Store and songs and movies in iTunes. Events in Facebook’s calendar will also be synched to the iPhone’s calendar.
Siri was also upgraded, now available in more languages and countries. The app that interprets and responds to voice commands has been sharpening up especially on queries with movies, restaurants and others. Apple is partnering with Yelp Inc. to enable Siri to even include ratings and prices of restaurants, with OpenTable Inc. to allow Siri to make reservations, and with car manufacturers to fix a button on a steering wheel that activates Siri.
Other features of Apple’s new software include greater control of messages and text notifications, and a new Passbook feature that will act as a central place to keep your boarding passes, tickets and gift cards.
These upgrades are set for release in the fall. Historically, the company upgrades its mobile software around the same time it releases a new iPhone, but Apple hopes iOS 6’s upgrades will be enough to generate consumer buzz.