A widely expected update to iOS 6 was announced at Apple’s 2012 developers convention (WWDC) in San Francisco. iOS 6 will be available this autumn for the iPhone 3GS or later and the iPad version 2 or 3, but not first-generation iPads.
The upgrade to iOS 6 promises a more intelligent version of Siri, Apple's speech recognition-based personal assistant software. Apple detailed a few, mostly US-centric partnerships, such as Yelp and Open Table to improve Siri’s restaurant information, and enhance its sports results facility.
The new Siri will be able to launch apps and is loaded with more information about films, including trailers, though again it remains to be seen how far this will go in the UK.
In the next 12 months we should also get “eyes-free” Siri, to integrate with compatible cars so that drivers can control it from the dashboard.
Siri is also coming to the iPad at last, just as rumours suggested, but only the third-gen model. On the iPhone, Siri remains limited to the 4S.
Other iOS 6 features include the hotly tipped new Maps app, developed by an in-house Apple team instead of the present default, Google Maps. It’s described by Apple as a “brand new mapping solution from the ground up.”
The new Maps app in iOS 6 offers turn-by-turn directions, full Siri integration (for journey planning or info about places along the way) and Flyover aerial views rendered in real time 3D vector graphics from data collected by special planes.
Apple is also said to be building a crowd-sourced traffic reporting system into Maps, based on anonymously collected iPhone data.
There will also be Passbook, a free app (only on iOS 6) for quick access to your electronic tickets, gift vouchers and travel documents such as boarding passes. It will be open for third-party developers to use.
The Mail app gets a few additions, such as a pull-to-refresh feature, VIP-sender marking and flagging for important messages and the ability to insert photos and videos in the composing screen.
Bloggers have already reacted favourably to the tweak to iOS 6’s edition of Safari that enables you to upload images directly into blogs from the mobile browser. The Reading List feature will also work offline too.
FaceTime is being updated to work beyond just Wi-Fi and onto 3G or 4G (if you have it). If you are called on an iPhone you can opt to take the call on an iPad instead, for example. Phone numbers can also be unified with Apple IDs to enable this.
Finally, Apple announced proper Facebook integration into iOS 6 (as well as the upcoming Mountain Lion OS for Apple’s desktop and notebook computers). Users will be able to post to Facebook from almost any app, and they’ll also be able to post their updates to Facebook or Twitter from Apple's notification centre.
More info: Apple