Apple has announced that iOS 6 – the next major update to the iPad’s operating system – will be released next Wednesday, September 19. Over the last few months Apple has provided a lot of detail on some of the headline new features coming in iOS 6. I’ve run several of the iOS 6 developer betas on a new iPad 3 and had a chance to take a look at a lot of these new features.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most notable iOS 6 features that should be impressive on the iPad:
New Maps app: Apple is replacing Google Maps with a new in-house developed maps system which which looks quite impressive.
Map elements are vector based, so graphics and text are incredibly detailed — even when you zoom all the way in — and panning is smooth. Tilt and rotate to view an area, and Maps keeps the names of streets and places where they belong. Get visual and spoken turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic updates. Even soar over cityscapes to see the sights from the air in amazing, high-resolution quality.
Facebook Integration: Facebook is integrated throughout iOS 6. With iOS 6 we’ll be able to post photos to Facebook directly from the Camera and Photos apps, post our location directly from the Maps app, and use Siri to post on Facebook, Facebook events will be integrated in the Calendar app and Facebook friends’ profile info will be in Contacts.
Siri for iPad: Siri will have the ability to launch apps in iOS 6, post to Facebook, post tweets to Twitter, look up sports scores and information, and find movie reviews and show times – much more than she currently does in iOS 5.
Improved Mail App: In iOS 6 you can setup a VIP list in Mail to highlight important messages from the VIPs in your life and work circles. Mail also adds the swipe down to refresh feature and makes it much easier to add photos and videos to emails.
Shared Photo Streams: I haven’t been the biggest fan of Photo Stream so far, but I have to say this new feature sounds super cool.
Now you can share just the photos you want, with just the people you choose. Simply select photos from the Photos app, tap the Share button, choose who you want to share your photos with, and they’re on their way. Friends using iCloud on an iOS 6 device or a Mac running Mountain Lion get the photos delivered immediately in the Photos app or iPhoto. You can even view Shared Photo Streams on Apple TV.
FaceTime Over Cellular: The excellent FaceTime video chat will no longer require a WiFi connection; it will work over cellular connections as well.
Note: This feature may not be available on all cellular carriers. AT&T has said they are not supporting it on at least some existing data plans and forcing users to switch to a new Mobile Share data plan in order to have the feature available.
Revamped Store Apps: The App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore have all got major design refreshes in iOS 6. I think they all look much cleaner and sort of friendlier to use, especially the App Store – and for those of use who are big iPad app junkies, this is very good news.
Guided Access: I think this may well be the most impressive of all the new features in iOS 6, at least in terms of the potential impact it may have, particularly in the education arena.
iOS 6 comes with even more features to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities to get the most from their iOS devices. Guided Access helps students with disabilities such as autism remain on task and focused on content. It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen.
It’s worth noting that iOS 6 will not be coming to the original iPad, but only to the iPad 2, new iPad 3, and presumably the iPad Mini if and when it is released later this year. There are also certain features within iOS 6 that do not work on all iOS devices – check Apple’s iOS 6 page for full details on this in the fine print at the bottom of the page.
What are your favorite iOS 6 features for the iPad?