Apple earlier today unveiled its next-generation mobile operating, iOS 6, and vast improvements to the company's Siri voice assistant, all of which provides hints of what new functions will be included in the upcoming iPhone 5.
The new mobile operating system and Siri enhancements climaxed Apple CEO Tim Cook's keynote address to start the company's 23d annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. During the presentation, updates to the desktop Mac OS X operating system were unveiled (Mountain Lion 10.8) along with new MacBook laptop PCs, including a new MacBook Pro with a super high-resolution Retina screen.
Arguably today's biggest news: you'll soon be able to toss away your standalone GPS navigation device. Apple's next generation mobile operating system, iOS 6, which will be released in the fall – presumably premiering on the iPhone 5 – includes not only a new 3D Maps app from Apple (it will replace the current Google Maps-powered Maps app on iPhone and iPad) that will be integrated with Siri, who will provide voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions.
And nearly all Apple device users will be able to upgrade to iOS 6 – it'll work on the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, and the iPad 2 and 3.
Where am I going?
But Siri will provide more than just directions – she will be able to help discover where you're going to begin with via local search with access to more than 100 million listings worldwide.
For instance, if you need gas, you'll be able to ask Siri where the nearest gas station is. Siri will not only tell where they are but then guides you there.
She'll also provide an updated ETA as you navigate along with crowd-sourced traffic information to smooth out your drive.
Whether Apple's own 3D Map app will be superior to Google's new 3D map app for Android announced last week remains to be seen. But the Google Maps will have the company's famous Street View, while Apple's does not. Hopefully we'll be able to do a side-by-side when both are available.
Siri also will get two big additional features: she'll be able to open apps (for instance, "Open Maps app" instead of sliding through all your iPhone screens searching for it), and she'll be able to provide all sorts of up-to-date and future sports information, including scores, schedules and standings.
Other iOS 6/iPhone 5 improvements
In addition to improvements to these location and sports upgrades, Apple says iOS 6 and Siri will include more than 200 enhancements, including:
- Siri now works with OpenTable and Yelp to serve up restaurant reviews and reservations
- with Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango integration, Siri now provides local movie listings, reviews and ticket purchase
- a Siri steering wheel button will be integrated into cars from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes and Toyota
- iPad 3 owners will finally get Siri with iOS 6
- Facebook integration means signing in once inside iOS 6, then being able to share or like photos, locations, Web pages, music, apps, music, etc., from within each app without signing in each time
- Facebook events will automatically appear in the Apple Calendar app, including birthdays
- add text messages or reminders instead of just letting a voice call go to voice mail; for instance, you can respond to a call with a canned text message such as "Call you later" or "I'm on my way" or "What's up?" as well as setting up your own custom canned response
- reminders are geo-tagged – reminds you to call someone back as soon as you leave a specified location
- "Do Not Disturb" mode silences all incoming notifications and messages without having to put the phone into silent or Airplane Mode, handy for when you're using iPhone as an alarm clock; if someone repeatedly calls, iPhone will assume it's an emergency and will let the call come through
- FaceTime, Apple's voice chatting software, can be used over the cellular network rather than just WiFi (although the cellular FaceTime likely will work more efficiently on iPhone 5, which will connect via more robust 4G LTE networks)
- Your AppleID and cellular number are unified, which means you'll be able to receive phone calls through your iPad – at least I think that's what this means (it may pertain only for FaceTime)
- Photo streaming will allow you mark photos you snap and send a notification to friends who may want to see them, and they can then choose you download them and post comments for all recipients to see
- An app lock will keep kids from wandering off an app into other apps or even into aspects of the app you'd rather them no wander to
- a new app, Passbook, is a centralized ticket hub – all tickets you buy – plane, train, movie, concerts, hotel check-in, etc. – on your iPhone or iPad are stored here then, using GPS, the ticket will pop up on your lock screen when you arrive at the event to be scanned by the ticket-taker; loyalty cards also supported, complete with card balances
- VIP mailboxes allows you to designate and segregate email from your most important correspondents into a priority inbox
We'll obviously have more on all this when iOS 6 debuts on the iPhone in three-four months from now.
New Mac laptops, OS X Lion 10.8
Starting now, you'll be able to buy new Apple laptops, two next-generation 11- ($999 and $1,099) and two 13-inch ($1,199 and $1,499) MacBook Air models, as well as two new 13- ($1,199 and $1,499) and two new 15-inch MacBook Pros ($1,799 and $2,199).
The big product news, however, are two new .71-inch thin, 4.46-pound MacBook Pro ($2,199 and $2,799) both of which feature a 2880 x 1800 Retina display (more than twice as many pixels as in your HDTV) featuring 220 pixel-per-inch density that, according to Apple, makes reading mail like reading fine print and Web browsing is rendered magazine-quality.
The new Retina display is aimed primarily at graphics professionals rather than regular Joes and Janes like us. Apple and others will update multimedia and architectural apps to take advantage of the more vibrant display, such as Final Cut Pro, Aperture, AutoCAD and AudoDesk.
Apple also announced upcoming upgrades to its Mountain Lion OS X desktop operating system, which will include between Facebook and Twitter integration and Apple ecosystem-wide Web browsing – you'll be able to search through Web pages you viewed on another Apple device.
Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 will be available next month for $20, and we'll have more on it when we get a chance to play with it.