iOS 6, Apple's newest operating system for its mobile devices, should emerge at some point later today, bringing around 200 changes to iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. So ahead of the roll out of the fresh OS, we thought we’d round up the major differences in the new system compared to the previous incarnation, iOS 5.
You may recall that iOS 5 introduced a few significant features, such as the pull-down notification menu, which didn't even exist in previous versions of iOS. And a refreshed lock screen which gave us quicker access to the camera with a double tap of the home button.
But what's new this time around?
First, let's talk compatibility. iOS 6 will be available for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5 (see our hands on with the latter here). It will also be compatible with the iPad 2 and the new iPad (third generation), and the fourth and fifth generation iPod Touch.
Now onto the changes themselves. Apple's iOS 6 includes several major upgrades that go well beyond look and feel. The maps app, for starters, no longer uses Google at all, relying instead on a totally new home-grown solution from Cupertino. Another major change: iOS 6 folds Facebook right into its very being, amoeba-like, to let you share content from your phone or iPad to the social network in just a tap or two.
But I don't want to spoil all the fun in the introduction. Keep on scrolling down for a visual examination of the major OS differences, complete with pictures of iOS 5 (and a blast from the past image of iOS 4, if you can even remember it!) alongside similar images of iOS 6. Can you spot everything that's new?
On the left, you can see the apps and homescreen from iOS 4. On the right is iOS 5. The move from 4 to 5 brought some changes to the apps themselves, like iPod and Music. See the iOS 6 homescreen below.
In iOS 6, the Music and iTunes apps remain the same, but the change worth noting is that the iPhone 5 has a taller screen, and thus the homescreen can have five rows of apps rather than four.
The Mail app may be one of the most familiar ones to many iPhone users, and iOS 6 brings one neat change, shown below (pay attention to the left rail).
iOS 6 comes with a new sorting tool in the left rail, namely a VIP list. You can mark contacts as being very important people to automatically have their mail sorted to the designated folder, helping make sure that a significant piece of mail never gets lost in the email deluge.
iOS 5 brought us Twitter sharing baked right into the operating system. If you authenticate Twitter, you can tweet from many apps and features in iOS without ever launching – or even installing – the Twitter app.
iOS 6 adds the most popular social network to its baked-in sharing options: Facebook. Apple’s newest mobile operating system lets you share to Facebook or "like" various content that's on your phone in just a tap or two. And don't worry: Twitter will still be there, too.
To use mobile tickets in iOS 5, you had to rely solely on a third-party app/service, such as Eventbrite (pictured); but that could clutter your phone quickly. As you'll see in the next entry below, iOS 6 centralises ticketing with the Passbook app.
Passbook is a new iOS 6 app for tickets, coupons, and other scannable papers, which centralises many of your ticketing needs. It will still rely on third-party support, but at least all that virtual paper will be in one place. Plus, Passbook comes with some very cool features, like location-based awareness, so that when you reach a venue and have an applicable ticket, it shows up on your screen automatically.
Don't want to take a call with iOS 5? You can decline it and send it to voice mail. With iOS 6, however, you have a lot more options for telling callers that you're busy, as you'll see below.
If you can't take an incoming call on a phone that's running iOS 6, you have a number of options at your disposal for telling the caller that you're busy. You can decline the call, reply with a message that you can customise or choose from a list, or have your iPhone remind you to call the person back later on.
Maps in iOS 5 were pretty good, using data provided by Google Maps to give you directions and various viewing options, like the satellite view shown on the left in the above image, and the hybrid satellite-street map view shown on the right. But as you'll see below, iOS 6 takes a serious departure from these old maps.
The new Map app in iOS 6 is totally different. It now uses Apple's own data, rather than Google's, and includes turn-by-turn directions. iOS 6 lets you see not just a satellite view, but a 3D map of urban areas, iconic architecture and all.
And that’s all for now – but watch this space for our full and detailed review of iOS 6, which will be coming soon.
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