September 19, 2012
Apple iOS 6 Has Landed
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Just 2 days before their latest smartphone lands on shelves and in the homes of those who were brave enough to place their pre-orders in the middle of the night, Apple has released iOS 6 to the Apple faithful.
iOS 6 was announced and previewed during this year´s WWDC in San Francisco, alongside a new Mac OS and a few new pieces of hardware as well.
This update acts mostly as a strong, unwavering footstep into an independent future. Apple gets a chance to flex their muscle a little here, showing off once again everything they´ve learned in the past 5 years while looking forward to another 5 more. They´ve brought their Maps app in-house, taken Siri to graduate school and trained their devices how to act as our personal shopper/assistant. Even the FaceTime and the Phone applications have seen improvements.
Just before this year´s WWDC, the world, it seemed, was enamored with the dramatic breakup between Apple and Google. Apple was kicking Google out of the house, even bringing in another company to help take its place.
The iPhone maker had been looking at making their own mapping app for years, of course, but it´s finally arrived in iOS 6. Now, Siri moves from the office and switchboard and goes on the road with you, speaking turn-by-turn directions. Google´s Android has had this feature in their OS for quite some time now, so it´s nice to see Apple finally bring it into their phones. If they´ve treated navigation in the same way they treat every other new feature, they´ve been taking their time working to get it to the point where they feel it´s perfect. The design of the maps are new as well, and the app even gives users the chance to “Flyover” their favorite cities, a very demo-worthy app, particularly on iPhone 5, compliments of that new A6 chip.
Once tethered only to iPhone 4S, Siri will now make her way onto recent iPads, iPhones and even iPod Touch models. In a sense, the fact that she is joining these other devices now is proof that hardware wasn´t all that was keeping Siri on only one device.
In addition to stretching her legs a bit, Siri can also perform a few more tricks, such as opening apps (“Siri, open Spotify!”), posting to your Facebook profile and Twitter timeline and suggesting great movies. Siri is even capable of booking tables at local restaurants, thanks to an integration with OpenTable.
Of course, the big complaint last year when Siri first came onto the scene was her incredible knack of knocking off in the middle of the day unexplainably. Whereas last year´s Siri seemed to be a cautious step towards the future, this year´s Siri is proof that Apple is betting the Server Farm on themselves to win. It´s not a sure thing, but they could do it.
When Apple announced Passbook this June, many had wondered (including this writer) if this was a subtle nod that the next iPhone would contain NFC with mobile wallet applications. This dream was shot down weeks before the iPhone launch, but it´s likely Apple created Passbook to do everything they wanted to accomplish with NFC without the hassle of actually building out the infrastructure or leaving their phones open to vulnerabilities. Passbook will collect boarding passes, gift cards and tickets of all sorts in one app. Then, when one of these passes is needed, simply pull out your iPhone (or iPad, I suppose) and have that pass scanned right on the screen.
This could be a killer, strategic move for Apple, honestly. It could be more likely that companies would be more willing to write an app for a popular smartphone and tablet ecosystem than try to build out their own systems on a new, sometimes shaky technology.
Apple has also improved the way we actually talk with one another in FaceTime and the Phone application. FaceTime will now work over 3G and 4G networks, assuming the carriers are fine with it, of course.
In the Phone app, whenever a call is missed, iOS 6 gives the option to either send a quick default message of “I´ll call you later.” or “I´m on my way,” as well as create a reminder to actually call back, a great feature for those who are on and off the phone all day.
iOS 6 is now available via iTunes or Over the Air update on devices running iOS 5.