iOS 6 was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday by senior vice president of iOS Software Scott Forstall and hailed as a "fantastic release with more than 200 new features".
As rumoured, iOS 6 has an entirely new mapping system, and Apple is doing all the cartography itself. A new feature called FlyOver enables you to zoom around maps in 3D with rotating images. Forstall said "this is not a movie. This is being rendered in real-time".
Forstall outlined that the new Maps would have local search with more than 100 million business listings.
The new Maps app includes turn-by-turn navigation and will use anonymous real-time crowdsourced data right from iOS users, to keep traffic fresh and up-to-date.
The new Maps system replaces Google Maps in iOS.
There are also numerous enhancements to Siri, including a widening of support for the service and it is now to be made available to iPad owners. With iOS 6 Siri will (in the US at least) support Sports information as well as business information (which itself is not available to UK users at the moment).
Forstall demonstration Siri's sports feature by asking it "What is Buster Posey's batting average?" to which Siri responded "Buster Posey has a batting average of .290. Player card and stats." Siri has also (again, in the US) had updates to its movie and restaurant knowledge, and can now include Yelp reviews with restaurant information to advise users which meal to choose. It's interesting stuff but there's no news as to whether any of this will be available to UK users.
One new Siri feature that we should be able to use in the UK is app launching. Simply say the name of an app to launch it.
Apple is also working with a number of car manufactuers to integrate Siri functionality with cars, in the form of a button on the steering wheel that launches Siri on your iPhone. As Siri is capable of performaing a lot of hands-free functions this could be quite a boon to drivers. Forstall said "A number of auto manufacturers have already committed to deliver eyes-free Siri integration in the next 12 months. BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chysler, and Honda."
iOS 6 also enables you to share articles with Facebook, which joins Twitter as Apple continues to roll out a widening of its integration for social media services.
Forstall said that Apple had been "working very closely with Facebook to create best Facebook experience ever on a mobile device. Integrating right in iOS 6." As with Twitter you enter your username and password in iOS Settings and can then post updates and share content from across different parts of iOS (including the Safari browser). Facebook is integrated with the Notification Center and you can read and post to Facebook directly from Notification Center.
Facebook integration promises to be much more useful than Twitter integration as it also provides support for email and phone number updates (which will sync to your device) as well as Facebook events which will appear in Calendar.
A new Do Not Disturb feature enables you to turn off notifications, alerts and other reminders temporarily. This will be useful for when you go to sleep at night, as well as when you are in important meetings. It is possible to schedule Do Not Disturb so it turns on and off at regular times.
Apple has also made some updates to Messages, the most notable being that Facetime now works with Cellular data as well as on WiFi. Apple has also unified your phone number and Apple ID. So if someone calls you on your phone number, you can answer it on your iPad or your Mac.
Apple is also rolling out a number of enhancements to iCloud support in iOS. Shared Photo Streams enables you to share photos with a group of friends.
Users can also open up web tabs from Safari in iOS on their Mac operating system with Safari iCloud integration.
A new VIP Mail feature enables you to select people who you think are important and view only messages from them.
Apple has also introduced a new app called Passbook which works in conjuction with receipts and tickets. This app enables you to store receipts, tickets (such as flight boarding passes) in the app and works in conjunction with apps developed by these companies.
It has been reported that the original iPad and third-generation iPod touch will no longer be supported with iOS 6 and will remain on earlier versions of the operating system.