In early June, Apple took the wraps off iOS 6 giving us a preview of new features that will be part of the new update. iOS 6 is currently in development and under beta, but there is plenty we can share, while not breaking NDA. Think of this an iOS 6 FAQ, feature overview and includes our iPhone, iPad and iPod touch feature compatibility matrix. We’ll provide a complete iOS 6 walkthrough coming closer to the release, but for now we present everything about iOS 6 .
When will iOS 6 be released?
There isn’t a hard and fast date for the iOS 6 release. At the time of this article, iOS 6 was at beta 2. Previous releases of iOS have seen numerous beta releases before they make it available to the general public. Apple’s official statement is that iOS 6 will be ‘coming this fall’. This year, fall starts on September 22 at 10:49 EST.
How much will the update to iOS 6 cost?
If you own a supported iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, then iOS 6 will be made available to you completely free.
Is my iPhone, iPad or iPod touch compatible with iOS 6?
The following iOS devices will be compatible with iOS 6.
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPod touch 4th generation
- iPad 2
- The new iPad (third generation)
Of course, when Apple releases the new iPhone, that will be supported as well.
iOS 6 Features
The Maps application is no longer powered by Google Maps. Over the past few years, Apple has been active in purchasing companies with mapping technologies. They have poured all of that know-how into a completely redesigned Maps application. The most notable new feature within Maps are turn-by-turn navigation and driving directions. The new Maps application integrates with your existing contacts and will provide both visual and spoken directions to your desired location. Using maps data from TomTom, Maps provides real-time traffic information, offering alternative directions on the fly to help you get to your destination as fast as possible.
The new Maps are also redesigned, so they look just as good as they function. Less clutter and more focus on information you need to know. Shown here is an iOS 5 Maps screenshot on the left and Maps in iOS 6 on the iPad. Mapping capabilities aside, which one looks better to you?
While not an everyday use type of feature, but Maps includes something called “Flyover”. No need to commandeer your own helicopter to view landmarks or destinations. Maps provides high-resolution views that you can manipulate as you would a webpage on your iPhone or iPad. Swipe, pinch to zoom and move around in pure 3D.
While she (or he) isn’t new, Siri has learned a number of new tricks in iOS 6. You can now launch applications using Siri using the command “Launch” or “Open” proceeded by the name of the app. Siri, open EverythingiCafe app will launch the app.
Siri is also more adept at social networking, allowing you to update your Facebook status using dictation. You can also send a tweet using nothing but your voice.
Movies, Restaurants and Sports
Searching these three categories will result in detailed information provided in a “card-like” result.
Sports: Siri can provide previous and real-time scores from hockey, football, baseball, basketball and soccer. Additionally, you can find out stats for a particular player or players. Siri will even compare stats between two players.
Movies: Using your location, you can ask Siri to find a theater near you that is playing the movie of your choice. “Where is The Dark Knight Rises playing?” will result in a beautiful movie themed card showing theaters and showtimes. Siri will also let you view movie trailers or check out the latest Rotten Tomatoes review.
Restaurants: Now with more Yelp! One of our favorite apps (see Yelp review) is integrated with Siri. The result is an easier to not only find restaurants, but see reviews, photos and price range. When you find that perfect steak house, Siri can even make a reservation using the OpenTable app.
Apple also introduced Eyes Free, an initiative to work with car manufacturers integrate Siri into their voice control systems. BMW is showcased on Apple’s overview of new Siri features, with other car manufacturers including GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota and Honda.
With iOS 5, Twitter received deep integration, making it easier to interact and tweet from apps. iOS 6 brings that same level of deep operating system integration with Facebook. Now you can post status updates direct from iOS apps. Post pictures with a status update using Camera or Photos or share your location using the new Maps app. In many ways, the Contacts and Calendar apps also get upgraded by iOS integrating with Facebook. If a friend or family member updates their personal information on Facebook, it will auto-update on your iOS device. If you are a gamer, then sharing high scores from GameCenter is also part of this update.
Shared Photo Streams
When iCloud was introduced, with it came Photo Stream, a new feature that would create a stream of most recent 1,000 photos across your iOS devices. Take a photo on your iPhone and it will automagically appear on your iPad, Apple TV or even iPhoto on your Mac. With iOS 6, Apple added a wonderful sharing component appropriately titled Shared Photo Streams.
Having a 10-month old with two sets of grandparents who crave new photos, Shared Photo Streams makes it so easy that they have do nothing more then run iOS 6. Let’s say you select a number of pictures within the Photos app on iPad. When you select share, you’ll enter the respective email addresses of those parties who are part of the share stream. Once you’ve shared them, the recipient will receive a notification of new photos. In addition to viewing, they can also comment on the photos.
This new feature effectively takes away email as the clumsy middle-man for photo sharing, although we’ll cover how Mail gets an much needed update in this area. If you share plenty of photos, this could easily become your favorite feature in no time.
With support from corresponding retailers, Passbook brings boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards and more to your lock screen. No more unlocking your iPhone and fumbling through your apps in search for the needed app. Visit Starbucks and your account card will appear on the lock screen, ready for scanning to pay for your coffee.
With expected widespread adoption from retailers, this should increase use of apps used for payments. Passbook also seems like a great gateway towards support for NFC, if and when a new iPhone is introduced with near field communications.
Passbook can be set for both time and location based notifications. Now your movie tickets will be waiting for you arrive to the theater for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II.
Prior to iOS 6, FaceTime required a WiFi connection. In iOS 6, you can make FaceTime calls using your cellular network. Prior to using this feature, I’d highly recommend you take a look at our guide on how to track iPad, iPhone data usage and save money.
Quick Tip: It’s been rumored that AT&T will charge additional for FaceTime over cellular, although the CEO has been non-comittal about any pricing change.
Using the Phone app on the iPhone hasn’t seen much in the way of improvements, but that’s about to change. When a call is incoming, you’ll notice a small ‘phone’ icon next to the familiar ‘slide to answer’. The new ‘phone’ icon works very much like the ‘camera’ icon introduced in iOS 5. Slide up and you have a bevy of options.
- Reply with Message: Too busy to call, but want to offer more information to the caller. A short SMS or iMessage can be sent from a grouping of pre-existing texts or your custom text. This should have high appeal to business users, who can reply with ‘In a meeting, will call in you ‘x’ minutes’.
- Remind Me Later: When you decline a call, you can set an instant reminder to call that person back based on a time or location. If your wife or husband calls, you can set a reminder to call him or her back ‘when I leave’.
It’s refreshing to see an app that gets as much use as the Phone app get a few nifty updates.
Bonus: As part of the wider ranging ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature in iOS 6, you can set a ‘Quiet Time’ where incoming calls along with other notifications will be silenced.
In what could be a consider a minor convenience update, Mail introduces a new VIP feature. In today’s world of cluttered inboxes, Mail will allow you to set VIP’s within your contact list and then auto-filter those important emails from people you care about or even your boss.
Sending photos and videos also gets easier with Mail in iOS 6. Tap and hold in the message area will bring up a contextual menu, which in turn allows you to swipe left to reveal an option to Insert Photo or Video.
An ongoing theme with Apple’s iOS apps has been the integration of new features thanks to iCloud. This time around, iOS 6 will usher in support for iCloud Tabs. Now all of your web browsing pages that are open on one iOS device are synced with other iOS devices or your Mac. iCloud Tabs presents tabs from all of your devices, so you can access a page that was open on your MacBook Air and then easily find that page you were browsing on your iPhone.
As reported here on everythingiCafe, iOS 6 now supports photo and video uploads from within the browser. Previously, it was impossible to upload a video or photo to the web. Now forums like everythingiCafe can allow for browser based uploads. There isn’t a true file browser, but instead you can browse the camera roll or take a new photo.
For travelers who find themselves outside of either WiFi or 3G coverage, Reading List in Safari in iOS 6 will allow you to save web pages. Links aren’t much help when you cannot connect, so having full web pages will be a saving grace for those who find themselves up in the air, on a train or in the wild.
Apple continues to improve upon accessibility features in iOS 6 with Guided Access. This feature allows you to restrict access to specific areas of the screen. Features such as Guided Access can be used as a parental tool or as a learning tool for teachers looking to keep students focused on the content. Apple suggests that Guided Access can help students with disabilities such as autism remain on task.
Apple has also integrated VoiceOver, a screen reader for blind and low-vision users, with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom.
Find My iPhone: Now includes a new ‘Lost mode’ which makes it easier to lock, locate and protect your iPhone should it go missing.
Find My Friends
This app now allows for location based alerts in iOS 6. When a friend or family member arrives at a location, you can receive an alert.
App Store, iTunes and iBookstore
All will receive a much needed update, although this is not the major update we had seen rumored. The iTunes app will feature a new history option, which is similar to history on your web browser. You’ll be able to backtrack to music, movies or TV shows you previously viewed.
One of the nicer changes implemented in iOS 6 will be app purchases, allowing you to retain your position in the App Store after a purchase. Previous iterations of iOS will boot you out of the store, to begin monitoring the downloading status of the app you’ve purchased.
Will my iPhone, iPad or iPod touch be able to use ‘x’ feature?
Based on what we’ve heard from Apple and the latest news from recent beta releases of iOS 6, the following should provide you with the latest on features you can expect based upon your iOS device. These could change as we progress towards the final release.
iOS 6 Compatibility Matrix
There are hundreds of smaller features, which will look to add here on an ongoing basis.
Have questions about iOS 6? Look no further then our iOS 6 forums. Get help with your iPhone, learning about the upcoming iOS 6 software update and more. Not a member, join today!