Apple Unveils iOS 6 With Over 200 New Features Including New Maps App, Improved Siri, Facebook Integration, Passbook App

iOS 6

As expected, Apple unveiled the newest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6, at today’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote at the Moscone Center in San Fransisco.

The update packs in more than 200 new features including including an all-new Maps app, Passbook app, improved Siri and Facebook integration.

Siri:

iOS 6 brings sports to Siri. You can now ask her for the latest scores of your favorite sport. Siri also features an improved detail view for restaurants sorted according to ratings from OpenTable.

Apple has partnered with Rotten Tomatoes to let Siri address all your movie related queries. You can watch trailers, ask for actors, directors and a lot more.

Apple has also added some long awaited features to Siri including the ability to open apps and tweet.

Car Manufacturers and Apple are working to build in dedicated buttons into cars that would fire up Siri without you having to deal with the phone. Apple calls this “Eyes Free,” and they expect car manufacturers to deliver within a year.

Siri’s also learning a bunch of new languages. You can now speak to Siri in Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and a lot of other languages as well.

Siri finally loses its iPhone 4S exclusivity. iOS 6 will bring Siri to the new iPad.

Facebook Integration

Tim Cook pretty much gave this one away. As rumored, iOS 6 will have the similar Action sheets where, in addition to Twitter, you can also post to Facebook.

An added feature is that both Twitter and Facebook would be built into Notification Center. So updating your status on either of these services is just a swipe away.

There’s of course an API that developers could use to ship their apps with built in Facebook sharing.

Apple’s also tying in its various stores with Facebook. You can now see your friends’ movie, music or application picks right on the store. The same thing would be available on iTunes on the desktop as well.

Also, Facebook events and birthday reminders are being integrated into calendar. No more forgetting your friends’ birthdays!

Phone app

Apart from a few changes here and there, the phone app’s been almost the same since Macworld 2007, where the iPhone was announced. Apple’s now adding some pretty nice functionality into the phone app including the ability to reject a call and reply with a message, and a reminder to call back.

Do not Disturb

A toggle in the Settings app to tell your phone to not light up or make sounds when you receive notifications or calls. You could let a selected few people’s calls to come in even if the Do not Disturb toggle is on. Another thoughtful feature —  if someone calls you twice within 3 minutes, the call will come through.

FaceTime over Cellular

It’s been two years since Steve Jobs took stage to announce FaceTime and yet you had to remain within WiFi range to make FaceTime calls. Not anymore! iOS 6 would let you make FaceTime calls over 3G/4G. Apple’s also unifying your phone number and Apple ID so that calls intended for you reach all your devices including your iPad and your Mac. Same goes with iMessage.

Safari

The browser that accounts for two thirds of all mobile traffic is finally getting tab sync. This will work in conjunction with the updated Safari announced for Mountain Lion through iCloud. Apple’s also adding offline support to Reading List making it a full blown competitor to other Read it Later apps like Instapapaer and Pocket.

Safari on iOS 6 will (after 5 years) finally be able to upload photos to websites and support a full screen mode in landscape.

Apple’s also introducing “Smart app banners,” a way to let developers tie in their mobile websites and native iOS apps “smartly.”

Photo Stream

iOS 6 will add social features to Photo Stream where you can choose friends and share your images with them. Your friends would then get a notification, and the images would appear in an album on their devices on which they can comment. (Facebook must be really jealous of this sort of deep integration.)

Mail app

You would now have the ability to mark certain people as VIPs. Mails received from these selected few would appear in a different VIP mailbox. Mail also lets you flag certain people, for whom there’s a separate Flagged mailbox.

Mail on iOS 6 makes it easier to attach/embed phots and videos into mails right from the compost window. It also adds support for password protected Office documents.

Pull to Refresh finally makes it onto an Apple app — Mail.

Passbook

A new app by Apple to collect stuff like boarding passes, movie tickets, shopping cards etc. that you’d normally keep in your pocket or wallet. The stuff you store in Passbook isn’t a static piece of skeumorphic paper – Boarding passes will auto update and your device will pull up your card when you’re near a store. Apple’s providing developers with templates to make it easier for them to support Passbook.

Guided Access

Apple’s taking its emphasis on accessibility one step further by introducing Guided Access, a way to let you disable certain parts of an app to make it easier for people with disabilities to interact with the device.

Maps

Apple’s finally chucking Google’s backend and putting all of its mapping acquisitions over the past years to use. The maps look different (the leaked screenshots were real), and have 100 million business listings. The app is integrated with Yelp, presumably to make up for the lost data Google owns.

The app would also have the long rumored traffic service Apple talked about in the locationgate press release. Users can anonymously report incidents in realtime.

iOS 6 would also bring a feature Android users have long enjoyed — free turn by turn navigation. Keeping in mind car drivers who dock their iPhones on their dashboards, Apple’s lets turn by turn navigation run right from the lock screen. All of this is integrated with Siri.

Apple has also added 3D views of maps in iOS 6, they call the feature “Flyover.” The level of detail is pretty high, and according to liveblogs, the rendering happens without any noticeable lag.

Miscellaneous

With iOS 6 Apple’s also introduced Game Center challenges, redesigned App Store, iTunes Store and iBookstore, a lost -ode for Find My App that pops up a phone number so that the person who finds your phone can call you back, integration with Chinese web services, and a lot of other features.

Compatibility:

iOS 6 would be available for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2 and the new iPad and the 4th gen iPod touch.

Availability:

iOS 6 will be released later this fall. We expect it to be release couple of days before the next generation iPhone is released.

What do you think of the new features? Are you happy with the new features and improvements? Sound off in the comments.