Apple recently released iOS 6, with over 200 new features and upgrades. While we are aware of what the critics are saying, we think it was a great release, and the majority of Apple users will be very happy with the result. The upgrade is free, and is available on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3 and iPod touch 4.
The feature which is simultaneously most-praised and most-criticised is Maps. Many users who were used to using Google Maps were put out at first, but there are some nice features here. The graphics on Maps app are “stunning,” in the words of one reviewer, and load quicker than Google Maps does. The app features overhead views that can be tilted at different angles, and the app zooms a lot more smoothly than Google Maps does. The app also features turn by turn navigation, which negates one of Android’s few advantages over iOS. Once users get used to this app, most like it better than Google Maps. For those who still aren’t happy, though, don’t despair: Google Maps will soon be available at the App Store.
Another update that many see as overdue, but we see as welcome, is the Facebook integration. Similar to Apple’s agreement with Twitter, users can now make contact with Facebook from most of iOS 6’s default apps. For example, users can share a photo on Facebook directly from the Photos app. Facebook is also integrated into the iOS 6 calendar app.
Another great feature is Passbook. Passbook codes concert, movie, and boarding passes into your iPhone or iPod touch, basically acting as a “virtual wallet” to keep everything you need in one place. Other things integrated into Passbook: Starbucks card, coupons and sales from retail stores and restaurants, loyalty cards, and pretty much anything a traveller might need to spend money on.
Siri has been improved even more, and now speaks more languages, allowing it to work in more countries. Users can ask Siri for scores from sporting events, find popular restaurants, tell what movies are playing near any location, buy tickets, and make reservations. It will even launch flight tracker, which comes in handy if you are waiting for someone in an airport.
Apple has also updated FaceTime for iOS 6, allowing smartphone users to make video calls over cellular networks, instead of being restricted to VOIP networks. Other calling features have been added, including the ability to immediately send a text message to someone whose call you have just declined, and a “Do Not Disturb” setting.
The new iOS 6 also allows you to have email from select contacts sent directly to your iPhone or iPad, and have integrated videos and photos into the email app. They have also improved Safari for iOS 6, allowing it to save entire web pages in your reading list instead of just saving links. This allows you to read a page even if you are unable to connect to the Internet.
Some other features that look intriguing are a panoramic camera that allows you to shoot a picture up to 240 degrees, and Find My Phone, which allows you to call your lost iPhone from another number, lock it with a four-digit passcode, and send it a message telling whoever finds it to call you. The phone is locked so that the only number it can reach is the one you send, and the person who finds it has no access to any of the information stored on your iPhone.
Similar to Find My Phone, Find My Friends is a GPS-based app which allows users to share locations with other users. The app also provides alerts based on location; many parents like to use this app to tell them when their kids arrive at certain places like home or school.
So, “That’s great,” you say, “but what’s in it for me as an app developer?”
The short answer: everything. Apple keeps getting more and more popular, and its market share grows with each passing day. As an apps developer or a business owner, it should be easy to see that Apple is now the place to go, and iPhone and iPad apps are going to provide you with the best ROI of any apps.
Every time Apple has improved iOS, it has made more people want to buy their mobile devices, and spend more time using them. The new iOS 6 will help increase your potential audience as an app developer by making it more likely that someone will buy your app. As a business owner, it makes people more likely to do business with you through your app.
The verdict: Apple has once again done a great job of improving their product.