Apple took the wraps off of iOS 6 on Monday and boy is it a beauty. There are more than 200 new features, including enhancements to Siri and new turn-by-turn directions with 3D Maps. We're in love — even if several of these features have been available on Android before. Without further ado, let's dive into our favorite features of Apple's new mobile operating system, in no specific order, which launches for developers today and to consumers this fall.
We were expecting this one: Apple ditched Google Maps in iOS 6 and now offers its own solution. The application offers tons of functionality that has long been available to Android users, including free turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation, 3D renders, traffic updates and lane guidance. It even ties nicely into the entire operating system so, for example, if you search for a restaurant you can quickly begin navigating there, too. This is one of the features we really can't wait to try out.
This one was huge for me. I ditched iOS for Android a while back because I was tired of not being able to add attachments into my new email messages. That's no longer the case: iOS 6 Mail will support the ability to add photos or other attachments while you're creating a new message. In the past, you had to choose a picture to send first.
It also adds a new VIP feature so that you can be alerted to emails from specific people only; it's also available in OS X Mountain Lion and should be hugely useful for any business user.
3. Do not Disturb Mode
I love iMessage but whenever I went to bed I went nuts when my iPhone would sit there and buzz out of control while a group chat I was in continued to send messages. The new "do not disturb mode" allows users to leave their iPhone on but will not activate the display and will stop the phone from ringing and vibrating. Yes, there was silent mode before, but this allows me to better control when I'm alerted of new messages and when I not.
4. Siri is Better than Ever
Siri was updated with tons of amazing new features, including the ability to look up sports scores, movies and much more. It's more than just being able to find information, however. If a user looks up a baseball score he or she can then also view the RBI for a specific batter, complete with a trading card-style interface. Same goes for movies: when you search for movies you'll be presented with a colorful user interface with tons of information including show times and even reviews from Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Facebook Integration
We had a suspicion this feature was coming. iOS 5 introduced tight Twitter integration and now that same integration has been carried over to Facebook. Users can quickly send status updates with their location, a photo and much more without even launching the application. Notifications are also tightly knit into the notification shade in iOS so that users can quickly see relevant updates.
This blew my mind. iOS 6 will offer a Passbook feature that allows users to quickly save frequent shopper cards, boarding passes and more to. iOS 6 can alert me when I'm walking past a Starbucks and quickly launch the Passbook application so that I can access my Starbucks card. Similarly, if I'm in an airport waiting for a United flight, and have my boarding pass saved, iOS 6's Passbook feature will let me know if my gate has changed. This is amazing and truly takes location-based services and mobile alerts to an entirely new level… but we can't wait for credit card and NFC support either. Will it come with the iPhone 5? We'll have to wait and see!
7. Shared Photo Streams
Woah — this feature is amazing. We love that we'll be able to link up with friends and share photo streams with iOS 6. My friend might be heading on a camping trip, for example, and I'll be able to subscribe, comment on and like every photo that my friend posts while on the trip. Likewise, I'll be able to share my adventures with friends, too. A user simply needs to enter in the name of a contact that he or she would like to share with an iOS 6 takes the rest from there.
So Much More
Those are just a few changes to iOS. There are more than 200 updates in total and the developer preview launches today. Apple said that we, as consumers, can expect a build in the fall — likely a nod at when the iPhone 5 will launch. The ball is in Google's court, but we have no doubt that it will have tons of surprises for Android users in store during its Google I/O developer conference, which kicks off on June 27th.