With the exception of Apple Maps and a fuller Siri, iOS 6 has been characterized early as a refresh, with only nominal user interface changes. But with what we’re hearing about possible integration innovations, iOS 6 might have more under the hood than meets the eye.
We haven’t discussed iOS 6 in great detail, leaving the heavy lifting to our sister website, the iOS 6 News Blog. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t open up a discussion about iOS 6 as we head into the final days before the WWDC. While the proud, few June iPhone 5 Truthers continue to make their case for a surprise announcement at the WWDC keynote, and still others anticipating a new round of MacBooks, the most certain release for this year’s Developer’s Conference is the beta version of iOS 6.
If you’re a hard core Apple geek, then you’ve probably already read scores of “iOS 6 wish lists” around the tech blogosphere. But if you’re an average Joe iPhone user who embarrassingly has little or no idea what the heck iOS even is, that’s perfectly ok: all you need to know is that iOS is Apple’s own mobile operating system — the program that runs the iPhone and iPad — and that this year’s version, iOS 6, is anticipated to have some cool, new features. Among them, the much-hyped Apple Maps.
When you think about it, it’s absurd that iPhone users have had to slum it with a stripped down version of Google Maps for their iPhone experience all these years, all while Android users have had access to the feature-rich version of Google’s Map, complete with turn-by-turn navigation. Well, Apple is finally launching its own version of Maps, and it is believed that not only will it have turn-by-turn navigation, but also will feature artsy, 3D maps renderings and the ability to integrate with your calendar and other data that deals with geolocation.
In fact, integration is fast becoming the buzz word for iOS 6 as we head into the WWDC.
We’ve also recently heard that Facebook is going to factor heavily into the iOS 6 experience. Tim Cook has recently alluded to it, and though it remains to be seen how pervasive the integration of Facebook will be into the iPhone — some suggest it will be little more than 1-click sharing, whereas others imagine much deeper integration — it would appear that Apple is seeking to partner with Facebook in order to counter Google’s impressive integration of Google+ in with its own mobile computing experience. Since Apple has yet to penetrate the social media market, it appears that they are prepared — at least for now — to use Facebook almost as a third-party solution. (Did I just say that?!)
Another big integration rumor for iOS is centered around the long-held belief that iOS and OS X will someday converge. We’ve already seen the latest version of OS X look more iPad’ish in its UI — now it appears that iOS 6 will integrate many features found among Mountain Lion’s widgets and desktop. For as much as many people are predicting a lackluster UI update with the new mobile operating system, something like this would be a pretty big upgrade, in my opinion.
Here’s a nice iOS 6 concept video that puts a lot of this integration into visual perspective:
A sneak-peek of the iCloud update — which is also coming to iOS 6 beta and will serve as the basis for even further integration — also revealed new Notes and Reminders apps as well. Particularly interesting with Notes will be a more business-like functionality that reveals Apple’s bid to make the iPhone and iPad increasingly more productive for business.
Last but not least is Siri. We know that we’re going to see Siri expand, but to what degree, no one is for certain. The late-breaking news is that Siri will now function on the iPad, but this is a somewhat expected upgrade. Other rumors indicate that Siri will expand to include more languages. But my guess is that the big news regarding Siri is that it will be fully opened up to third-party developers, and will essentially become “smarter.” I would argue that the recent celebrity-studded Apple commercials on TV are already hinting at this, by demonstrating the flexibility, intuitiveness, and even wit that Siri is capable of.
It remains to be seen if the iPhone 5 will be announced at the WWDC or not. Regardless, we are bound to get iOS 6, and it will tell us a lot about what to expect from this year’s iPhone.
By Michael Nace
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