Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is this week, the annual event designed to give developers and the rest of the world a sneak peek at what’s down the pike for Apple products. This year Apple announced improvements to its operating systems, iOS and OS X, as well as to its MacBook computers.
Your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch will be enhanced this Fall with the launch of iOS 6, packed with over 200 improvements to the mobile operating system.
Apple’s popular personal assistant will not only be smarter come the Fall, she will also be available to more people. Siri is coming to the new iPad with iOS 6 and will arrive with additional features, more languages and be available in more countries.
Siri will not only be able to find restaurants for you, Siri will be able to help you make reservations using OpenTable. You’ll be able to open apps with Siri and post directly to Facebook and Twitter using voice commands.
Siri will added capabilities for sports fans, including checking on team rosters, game schedules, player stats, team standings and sports trivia. Siri will be able to speak the answers in addition to providing graphics.
Siri will also be able to check movie times, play trailers, get movie information about cast and crew, and get movie reviews using the Rotten Tomatoes app.
Apple is also working with car manufacturers on a feature called Eyes Free that will activate Siri using a voice command button on your steering wheel. You will be able to interact with Siri using your voice, the screen of your device won’t light up. Eyes Free is slated to be launched before the end of the year on vehicles from GM, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes, Honda and Audi.
The stalwart maps app, Google Maps, will no longer be the default map app in iOS 6, Apple has developed its own map app. Apple’s map app will function as a GPS app, giving voice turn-by-turn directions, which the Google Maps app does on Android devices, but not on iOS devices. The Apple map app can appear on the lock screen so you won’t have to worry about your phone going to sleep as you’re trying to navigate.
The app can alert you to traffic incidents such as accidents and construction and recommend the fastest route for you to avoid delays. The maps will turn as you navigate so you can get your bearings as the map perspective changes.
You’ll be able to turn on 3D mapping in Settings and see the maps in Flyover mode, giving you an aerial view of the world.
Do Not Disturb
Perhaps in response to the iPhone/New York Philharmonic incident in January, Apple will be adding a Do Not Disturb feature to iOS 6. By activating Do Not Disturb, you will block notifications for calls, texts or other messages. No word yet on whether it silences alarms.
You will be able to assign contacts VIP status and allow only calls and text messages from VIP’s to come through, in case you’re expecting a phone call from a Very Important Person. You will also be able to set calls to come through if someone calls you from the same number two or three times in a row (often signaling an emergency).
You will be able to set Do Not Disturb ahead of time, so you won’t forget to turn it on or off. You will also be able to set it for regular intervals, such as turning it on each night at bedtime and off in the morning.
Your phone will be able to send you a reminder to call a person back later, either based on time or your location. For example, you can set a reminder to call a person back in an hour or when you get home or to your office.
You will also be able to send callers a text message telling them that you’re unavailable. It’s not quite DriveSmart, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Apps will be integrated with Facebook, as they are with Twitter now. Sign in once in Settings and then connect using apps. Events will be included in your calendar and your Facebook friends can be added to your contacts. You can post photos and videos directly from Camera Roll, without using the Facebook app. You can also ask Siri to post on Facebook for you.
As the iPad makes more inroads into classrooms, the issue of access becomes more apparent. Educators are concerned that students will be playing games or cheating on tests by accessing the Internet. Guided Access restricts the use of a device to a single app so that a user won’t be able to exit the app. Guided Access has other controls that will be useful for those with special needs or younger children who use iPads.
In what may be a prelude to your iPhone becoming your wallet, Apple is introducing Passbook. Passbook is an app that will keep your loyalty cards, movie tickets, plane tickets and coupons. Like the Key Ring app, you can scan your loyalty cards into your iPhone and lighten your wallet. You won’t have to worry about leaving your plane ticket behind, you will be able to use Passbook as your ticket. Your iPhone will be able to notify you if the gate has changed and you’re waiting in the wrong place for boarding.
With iOS 6 you will be able to:
- Use FaceTime over cellular networks, not just Wi-Fi
- Share photos with others using photo stream
- Get the iPhone clock app on your iPad
- Email photos and video from your email app (not just from Camera Roll)
- Read articles from your Reading List when you’re offline
- Update apps without entering your password or leaving the iTunes Store
- Get notifications when a VIP emails you
- Smart App banners will appear in Safari when you’re visiting a mobile website that has an app available, giving you easy access to the app in the App Store
- Create a VIP folder where emails from your VIP’s will appear
- iMessage on your iPad will be able to use your phone number from your iPhone
No new iPhone was announced (expect that in the Fall), but Apple did introduce the newest models of the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air has a faster processor, more storage, and more RAM (for faster speeds). The Air is on sale now with prices starting at $999 for the 11″ screen and $1199 for the 13″ screen.
The MacBook Pro now comes with Retina display on the 15″ screen, a faster processor, longer battery life and more storage. The MacBook Pro with Retina display is on sale now and starts at $2,199.
OS X Mountain Lion
The Mac operating system is being updated as well to the Mountain Lion version, with over 200 new features, making your Mac seem like a close relation to your iPad. Notifications, iMessage, and Notes will be available on your Mac and will sync with your mobile devices. Your Mac won’t have Siri, but you will be able to dictate text.
Support for iCloud is built into Mountain Lion so you can sync your mail, contacts, calendar, Messages, Notes and Reminders between your Mac and your iOS devices. iCloud also has a new feature called Documents in the Cloud which will sync documents in Pages, Keynotes, Preview and TextEdit between your devices.
Power Nap, a new feature in Mountain Lion, lets your Mac fetch data, update software and backup your data when it’s in sleep mode.
In a nod to Chrome, your bookmarks will sync between devices and the search window has been eliminated in Safari . You will be able to enter search terms into your address bar.
Mountain Lion will be available next month for $19.99.
What do you think about Apple’s WWDC announcements? Which new features excite you? Were you hoping that a new iPhone would be announced? Are you considering getting a new MacBook? Let us know in the Comments section below!