Monday’s World Wide Developers Conference, or WWDC offered a number of new refreshes to Apple’s hardware lineup, including a new premium MacBook Pro with a drool inducing (as well as wallet burning) 2880×1800 ‘retina display’, and incremental additions to the Macbook Air lineup. Those hoping to get a look at the upcoming iPhone 5 (or iPhone 6 depending on how you count) handset were left disappointed by its absence, although as a developer’s conference it was always going to be about the upcoming iOS software. The new iPhone will get its own launch event later this year.
iOS 6 will be released around September/October this year, most likely at the same time as the new iPhone handset. Apple will also be supporting iPhone handsets going all the way back to the 3GS. iPod Touch, iPad2 and New iPad will also have invites to the party, although original iPad owners will be left high and dry unfortunately.
Apple have developed a new maps system to rival the recently announced Google Maps 3D. The new maps app will allow users to view major built up areas in texture mapped 3D glory. Fans of turn by turn navigation will also be happy to hear that Apple will be teaming up with Tom Tom to provide spoken turn by turn navigation.
Facebook will be now integrated seamlessly into iOS 6, much in the same way that Twitter was for iOS 5. This feature has long been a standard feature on Android phones, but nevertheless, any iPhone users with at least a mild Facebook habit will find this immensely timesaving. You will also be able to ‘like’ music movies and apps directly from the iTunes store as well as share pictures and links directly from the OS.
Call handling will also be given a makeover, so if you are busy when someone phones you, you will be able to not only send a set response, you can also set a location aware reminder to call them back when you leave work for example. A ‘do not disturb’ mode will also silence all alerts, both from apps and people.
Further evidence of the integration of mobile and desktop was made clear with the ability to link your phone number and your email address across phone, pad and desktop, allowing you to take calls from your Apple laptop for example.
Facetime has been let off the leash and will now be useable over the 3G network too, not just when you’re tied to a WIFI signal. 3G performance could well be shaky in all but the most favourable of reception areas, and it will eat your data plan for breakfast.
Email will have some new features, such as a VIP inbox, where friends, family and business colleagues can take preference over the mounds of spam and site alerts that we’re so used to. The ability to insert images and videos directly into email (at last) will be available, so no more navigating through the gallery.
Siri will be receiving an update as well. The virtual assistant will be available to New iPad users as well as the iPhone 4S and will be able to tap into a number of online services like Rotten Tomatoes, to bring you relevant information.
Film fans will be able to ask Siri about films by actors or genres, and the relevant information will be returned allowing you to read reviews, see top film lists by actors and view showings and book cinema tickets through online outlets. Siri has also become something of a sports fan and was demoed reeling off stats about Major League and NFL players on request. We’re hoping that by the time the update reaches these fair isles, that he will have brushed up on his Premier League football stats too!
So plenty to look forward to for existing as well as upgrading iPhone and iPad users. Many of the functions that other phone users have taken for granted will make a late appearance, although they will of course be delivered with Apple’s usual flare and attention to detail.
The removal of Google from the core of the OS signals the final split of Google and Apple stemming from their fierce competition in the mobile OS market. Apple is new to the area of mapping, and it is essential that they nail the Maps app, as it is one of the core functions of the modern smartphone.
Stay tuned to Omio for news on the upcoming iPhone, or grab yourself a bargain on a current handset, via Omio’s Deals page.