Apple is touting over 200 new features in iOS 6 on the iPhone 5. Here’s our rundown of some of the key changes, and importantly, whether you’ll get to enjoy them on earlier devices if you don’t yet have an iPhone 5.
iOS 6 new features: Maps
Apple is gradually severing the ties with arch-rival Google, and there’s no bigger sign of that than the dismissal of Google Maps in favour of Apple’s new vector-based map imaging.
Vector- rather than bitmapped-based graphics means street plans remain sharp at any resolution, any magnification.
Turn-by-turn navigation introduces real GPS navigation for drivers to Apple’s mobile devices.
Apple is also touting 3D maps, giving very detailed ‘flyover’ views of city buildings. But note that 3D maps are only available in the US.
Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation are also only available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 or later and iPod touch (5th generation).
Also tied in with Maps are other location-related services, such as booking a table in a restaurant.
although the Restaurant Reservation feature is currently not available in the UK.
iOS 6 new features: Find My Friends
This handy app that shows you the whereabouts of enrolled friends and relatives gets a new addition – geofencing is the technical term.
Put simply, you can ask for alerts when someone on your list leaves or arrives at a certain designated location.
Find My iPhone gets a new addition too: Lost mode. If you’ve lost your phone or tablet, you can immediately lock it with a four-digit passcode – presumably with the help only of another iOS device or a Mac.
iOS 6 new features: Siri
The voice-activated assistant Siri has been augmented in iOS 6. There are some welcome additions to UK users. We’re hoping Siri will now even be location-aware enough to answer the simple question: where am I?
Siri is available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation).
iOS 6 new features: Facebook
Facebook fans will be pleased to hear that Facebook is integrated throughout iOS 6. So you can Like companies, products, all kinds of things from within various other apps. Or tell everyone where you are from the Maps app. Or as Apple suggests, brag about your high score to your Facebook contacts from within the Game Center app.
iOS 6 new features: Shared Photo Streams
Photo Stream keeps all your recent snaps synced between iOS devices. Now you can share your pictures with chosen friends too on their phones and tablets, or beam the stream to an Apple TV to see them on a big screen in the lounge.
iOS 6 new features: Passbook
Passbook is a development of the idea already seen in, for example, the British Airways app: to have your flight tickets stored on your phone. The concept’s been extended for use as cinema tickets, gift cards and vouchers. It remains to be seen which businesses in the UK take advantage of this facility.
iOS 6 new features: FaceTime
Apple’s answer to Skype is FaceTime, a video telephone service that uses front-facing cameras to deliver the once only sci-fi feature of face-to-face video chats. This was previously limited to faster Wi-Fi connections (and with good reason, as Skype over 3G often bears witness with its unreliable, flakey results).
Now with iOS 6 – and hopefully the availability of faster 4G mobile broadband – FaceTime has been opened up for use over a mobile network. FaceTime requires a iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 or iPad (3rd generation).
iOS 6 new features: Phone
There’s a natty feature in iOS 6 that gives you more options for dealing with inconvenient incoming phone calls.
Instead of swiping right to answer, swipe up to reveal buttons for Reply with Message (which you can select from various preset or a custom SMS/iMessage texts); or Remind Me Later.
iOS 6 new features: Mail
To make sure you don’t miss important incoming email, you can elect to name certain senders as VIPs, putting their mail in a more prominent folder. Adding photos and videos to emails should be easier too. You can refresh your inbox by swiping downward, as you can do in some third-party apps like Facebook and Twitter.
iOS 6 new features: Safari
Like the feature introduced to OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud Tabs lets you keep, er, tabs on pages open on other devices. And if you use the Reading List facility, it now saves the actual page, not just a link, for reading later when you may not have internet access.
Taking pictures from within Safari is now possible, which could be useful to eBayers.
Offline Reading List is available on iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later.
iOS 6 new features: Accessibility
To simplify the use of iDevices by younger or people with learning difficulties, you can now disable the Home button, ensuring focus on just one app. Or restrict touch input to prevent unwanted finger trouble. Apple is also said to be working with hearing-aid makers to better integrate their technology into the platform.
Made for iPhone hearing aids require iPhone 4S or iPhone 5.
iOS 6 new features: Camera
The new iPhone 5 may have ‘only’ 8 megapixels, but with the help of the Panorama camera feature, it should be a doddle to stitch together a series of snaps that can take in a whole landscape – up to 240 degrees worth.
In the demonstration of the iPhone 5 on announcement day, a composite 28Mp image was shown.
Panorama is available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation).