During Apple’s press event to announce the iPhone 5, the company showcased a few iOS 6 apps and confirmed plans to make the new iOS 6 mobile operating system available on 19 September 2012.
iOS 6 will run on the just-announced iPhone 5 and the fifth-generation iPod touch (coming in October 2012), as well as on the iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S, the fourth-generation iPod touch, and the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad.
If you saw Apple’s June announcement of iOS 6 (see “Apple Previews iOS 6 for Fall Release,” 11 June 2012), nothing about Apple’s iOS 6 demo last week was especially surprising. Much of the demo was devoted to showing the attractive new Maps app, which is entirely redesigned and no longer uses Google’s mapping service. It features audible turn-by-turn navigation, enhanced zooming and panning with vector-based images, and Siri integration for locating nearby services. (Your experience will vary depending on which device you have: turn-by-turn navigation won’t work on the iPhone 3GS and 4, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and Siri isn’t available on the iPhone 3GS and 4, iPad 2, and fourth-generation iPod touch.)
Apple also noted that in iOS 6, Notification Center can post to Twitter and Facebook; the Safari Web browser has a new fullscreen landscape mode; with iCloud Tabs, iCloud can now list your open Safari tabs among devices running iOS 6 or OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion; and the VIP feature introduced in Mountain Lion’s version of Apple Mail will make its way into the iOS 6 Mail app, and those VIP lists can sync between devices. Siri remains in beta but has become more capable: the service can now launch apps via voice, get sports information, list movie times at nearby theaters, and post updates to Facebook. In addition, the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore apps have been redesigned to make them easier to navigate.
Passbook, the only entirely new Apple app in iOS 6, will help you organize and use digital coupons, gift cards, tickets, and airplane boarding passes. The app uses 2D barcodes to encapsulate information that can be scanned in order to, for example, redeem a coupon, show purchased movie tickets, or board a plane.