Apple is poised to unveil its next-generation iPhone and iPod Touch devices during its 12 September media event, but those may not be the only products showcased. The tech world fully expects iOS 6 – Apple's updated mobile operating system that was first unveiled during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June – to launch at the event tomorrow, or shortly afterwards.
iOS 6 will be a free download, compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch (fourth generation), iPad 2, and the new iPad (third generation), but some features won’t be available on all devices due to either hardware limitations or being iPhone and iPod touch-centric. So, if you have an incompatible device, you'll either have to stick to the older operating system or upgrade to a new device.
iOS 6's overall feature set isn't quite as game-changing as iOS 5's, which introduced iCloud, iMessage, the Notification Centre, wireless syncing and more to the iOS platform. But version 6 adds numerous potentially useful features that may make the update essential if you own a compatible iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Apple's iOS 6 web page lists several features – either new or improved – that are designed to enhance your iOS experience, but we're highlighting the five that are the most attractive.
1. Facebook integration
New to iOS6 is operating system-level Facebook integration, and it works in a similar manner to the Twitter integration that arrived in iOS 5. From the Settings menu, you will be able to enter your Facebook credentials, and the social network will be baked into the operating system. You'll be able to update your status, post links or photos to your wall, and add location-based information. You'll even be able to use Siri to update your Facebook status without touching the virtual keyboard.
2. iCloud tabs
Safari's main enhancement looks like it will come in the form of iCloud Tabs, which display links to web pages that you have open on other Apple devices. If you were reading, for example, ITProPortal on your iPod Touch, you'll be able to continue where you left off on a different iOS device by launching Safari and tapping the iCloud icon.
Maps is Apple's in-house replacement for the soon-to-be exiled Google Maps. At first glance, Maps looks very similar to Google's offering with its turn-by-turn navigation, local search, and traffic reports, but it differs in one major area: Flyovers.
This new feature renders major cities with photo-realistic 3D models that you will be able to pan, zoom, tilt, and rotate in order to get a better view. How many UK cities are included from the get-go with iOS 6, we shall have to see (the demos at WWDC just showed US cities). Also, Maps' Siri compatibility means that pretty soon you'll be able to plot trips using just spoken words.
4. New call options
iOS 6 will add new calling options that offer more flexibility over how you handle incoming calls that you don't want to pick up. Instead of simply declining a call, you'll be able to reply to it with a text message, or create a callback reminder to notify yourself at a later time to contact the person who rang. Apple is also adding a Do Not Disturb option that ensures you won't be bothered when you choose to enable it, save for important contacts that you've set up as exceptions.
Passbook is an iPhone and iPod Touch-exclusive app – at least for now – that will act as a tidy central hub for all your passes and tickets. Instead of handing over a paper ticket, coupon, boarding pass, or gift card to be scanned, you'll simply whip out your device, which will display the appropriate item when you stroll into the appropriate store, airport or wherever.
The success of this app, unlike the others mentioned in this article, will rely heavily on third-party support. The list of companies standing behind the technology is likely to be unveiled tomorrow.
ITProPortal will be reporting live on Apple’s announcement later tonight so make sure you stick with us and bookmark our live blog as we find out more about the new products and services launched by the tech giant.