So, it's that time again. The latest major release of Apple's iOS is out for public consumption for your iPad's (2nd and 3rd gen only), iPhones (4, 4S and 5 only) and latest iPod touch devices. Let's just have a look at those juicy new iOS6 updates in full now that it's completely public as of 0800 pacific time today:
Apple have gone all out here and designed their own vector-based maps complete with satellite terrain mode and super duper 3D fly-overs. Not every city has the 3D maps, for example Sydney gets lovely 3D mapping, but sadly us Kiwi's just get a flat Auckland :(
The killer feature for practical use though has to be turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation). I put it through the paces today and everything worked out great, even deliberately going the wrong way, it painlessly re-routed my route and if anything, I'd reckon that the instructions are clearer both verbally and visually in the Apple Maps app than my trusty TomTom app, which chews the battery like gum. I really like the fact that navigation still works when the screen is locked. I'm not sure what all the FUD on the web about how painful Apple Maps is all about, but perhaps it's a UK/US problem, generally speaking I haven't seen much wrong with Apple Maps NZ.
I haven't had much of a chance yet to play with Maps' real-time traffic information but hopefully it's as good as the other traffic information data that's out there already (for example Traffic AKL for us JAFAs!).
Maps get's real-time contextual data about what's around the area as you can see in the photo above (note the purple bed symbol and the green tree symbol). Furthermore, searching for locations and places are easy with local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews and available deals.
Finally, Siri has been integrated into Maps to request directions and find places along a route. However, if you look at www.apple.com/ios/feature-availability you'll find that New Zealand misses out from this feature and it doesn't look like it's slated for October (unlike Australia).
Siri improvements (or, a kick in the face to New Zealand!)
Siri, love it or hate it, it's been a good friend to some for almost a year now. Still in beta, says Apple, Siri has received a smattering of new useful features, but before you get all excited, look at the above link in the Maps section and you'll see that almost all of the new Siri features are coming out in Australia (or are already out), but there is no mention whatsoever of New Zealand. Apple has a very bad attitude to NZ. I come from Scotland, a country with just a little more than NZ, and even their biggest city gets an Apple store and full Siri support (when it can understand the Scottish accent!), but us poor Kiwis are left in the dark, I do hope Apple will address this but for now, it doesn't look likely.
Here are all the things you couldhave won!: Sport: scores, player stats, game schedules, teamsheets and league standings for American football, baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey
Films: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts
Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information
Eyes Free in supported cars
Send a Tweet
Post on Facebook
Local search available in Siri-supported countries (availability is limited during initial rollout)
You also get additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish)
Siri is Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation)
If you are a social networking fiend, you'll probably be using Twitter and Facebook for different reasons. Well, Steve Job's might of had a spat with Facebook and decided not to incorporate them into the iPhone 4 or 4S, but Tim Cook doesn't seem to think the same way. It's a good thing he doesn't though, in this case, because iOS6 now integrates Facebook really well into the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Here's a drill-down:
Single sign-on from Settings - no more having to sign into facebook and other facebook connect services all the time, it's all tightly and securely integrated into iOS 6 now!
Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Centre and Siri. Yep, it's that easy, pop into the 'Photos' app, maybe Safari or Maps and simply press the Share button. You get a nice new square popping up rather than the old 'list' style dialogue and you can choose the social networking or other service you want to use to share your wares with the world, whether it's family photos, your location on the map, or just how good you are getting at Angry Birds, this feature is a definite winner for me and will no doubt be used time and time again.
Add location and choose audience for any post. This is a a nod to the flagrant disregard that Facebook have had up until recently for your personal privacy. Apple are being wise and including these security features into their OS by default so developers don't even have to think about it.
View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts. If you are anything like me this is a pretty cool feature - it grabs all your friends details from their facebook profiles and adds them to your contacts. For example, say your local contact for Bob in your contact has an email address for him but no photo or mobile number, yet his facebook profile has both; shazam! Your contacts are merged and you have email, phone and photos of bob right in your contacts. To be honest, this feature is a long time coming and has been in various Android phones for a long time so I'm glad it's finally in iOS6.
View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar
Like content and see your friends' Likes in App Store and iTunes Store
Shared Photo Streams
Share selected photos with the people you choose
Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV
Friends can like and make comments on individual photos
I know it's day one, but passbook just plain isn't working for me, i'm sure when Apple's servers cool down a little things might back to normal. In the meantime, Passbook is supposed to be an electronic store-all for tickets to films, gigs and lots of events. It's also ready to hold boarding cards for flights. Finally it will also do electronic store cards, loyalty cards and even coupons. All of this, of course, depends upon people actually setting up their stores or airlines etc to actually be compatible with Passbook, but given the massive captive audience of the iOS market, I dare say that this one will be an easy thing to convince the execs at Foodstuffs, Progressive and AirNZ alike that this is a 'good idea'. Can't wait to start reducing all those bloody loyalty cards and take a slimmed down wallet with me wherever I go!
Passbook offers a barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into films and other actions, for your convenience, passes can be displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location
Passes can be automatically updated
Supported on iPhone and iPod touch
FaceTime now works over your mobile network!
Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch
This really hasn't received much coverage but I reckon it's an excellent feature: Do Not Disturb allows you to suppress incoming calls and notifications after a particular time of day. For example, I've set DND to 10PM through 6AM. No more annoying beeps when texts, emails or phone calls coming in at 3AM, just a good night's sleep! Importantly though, if you do get a call from someone who you would rather allow you to phone through at any hour of the day, then you can add these individuals to a list like your favourites. Make sure you switch on the schedule in the Notifications settings to make this feature work. If you ask me, it's a weird place to put it - they should just have it in a separate DND place, just like the big DND button in the General settings (below image).
Another great item for someone like me who is constantly in meetings is the 'Reply with message' option when declining a call. You can customise a text message response to decline your call with. Ideal.
Finally, you can also decline a call and select the 'Remind me later' option based on time or location when declining a call.
Mail takes a lot of hints from the recent version of Mac OS X (10.8), including the latest freature: VIP mailboxes to quickly access mail from important people. On top of this you also get a 'Flagged email mailbox', the ability to Insert photos and videos when composing email and open password-protected Office docs.
Mail appears completely redesigned, buttons are in different places (like Mark as unread) and the 'Pull down to refresh mailboxes' forms a little gloopy ball when you hold it down to indicate it's being reloaded. Nice little graphical touch that's typical of Apple's insane attention to detail. The last little nicety is that finally if you have more than one mail account on your iOS device, you can set different signatures for each account.
If you have another iOS device, or even OS X 10.8, you can click on the iCloud button and see safari tabs that are open on all of your other devices. In practice it kind of works. All my presently open tabs on my iPad, apart from the one tab I was really interested in (the current one) were synced automatically to my mac. I dare say if I left it a few more minutes it would have synced over, but this is the world of here and now!
App Store and iTunes Store improvements
The App Store and the iTunes store have been radically overhauled with what appears to be an HTML5 style design, it's got lovely carousel flips to sift through apps or music and is generally a lot easier on the eye.
It also has a few other nice features such as iTunes Preview history, Complete my series and Complete my album.
Day one of the new App Store (only for iOS6 devices) has been a little rocky though, many apps couldn't update and had to be updated in stages, although this is likely to be a result of the high demand on the update servers.
Game Center improvements
If you are a real gaming freak on your favourite iOS device, you'll be pleased to hear that the new Game Centre update has made it even easier to compete with your friends online. You don't even have to be playing them at the same time, or even the same day. They can follow your moves in a race-car game or you can brag about your high score on Facebook. Here's Apples list of updates:
Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements
Post high scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter
Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends
Accessibility improvements and everything else...
Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen
VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom
Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S
Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth
Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app
Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone
Clock app for iPad
Clock alarm with song
Search all fields in Contacts
Automatic film mode for improved video sound quality
Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish
New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic
Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud
Bluetooth MAP support
Global network proxy for HTTP
Features for China
Baidu web search
Sina Weibo integration
Share videos to Tudou
Share videos to Youku
Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin
and of course... the obligatory Bug fixes!