iOS 6 features you might have missed
On Monday, Apple offered the first glimpse of iOS 6 during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. Though the updated mobile operating system won’t arrive until sometime this fall, it’s never too early to start drooling over the new features. We already covered the flagship features of iOS 6—like seriously updated Siri, majorly overhauled Maps, and systemwide Facebook integration—so here’s a look at some cool features coming in iOS 6 that you may have missed.
A new Share screen
In iOS 5, when you tap to share a photo, you get a long list of sharing actions to choose from—whether it’s posting to Twitter, sending an email or iMessage, or some other option. iOS 6 adds Facebook sharing as an option, along with sharing to various Chinese social networks. (That’s a nod to how important the Chinese market has become to Apple.) But Apple decided against cramming more buttons into that panel.
Instead, iOS 6 presents you with a new, icon-based sharing screen. It uses icons to represent the apps and services that you can share your content with and looks quite a bit like the iPhone’s home screen.
New Siri functionality
Flagship features added to Siri include the voice-driven personal assistant’s arrival on the third-generation iPad. Siri also gains the ability to answer questions about sports and movies in iOS 6, and it will be integrated with turn-by-turn directions in Maps. But the virtual assistant gains several other new features as well that might have escaped your attention.
In iOS 6, you’ll be able to compose new tweets and Facebook status updates with Siri—and both capabilities appear to be implemented smartly: If you link your friends’ Twitter usernames to their Contacts entries, Siri automatically translates their real names as you dictate. That is, if I say, “Tweet ‘Excellent dinner last night with Jason Snell, Dan Moren, and Serenity Caldwell,’” Siri will automatically compose a tweet like “Excellent dinner last night with @jsnell, @dmoren, and @settern.”
On the new iPad, Siri can answer questions about weather and stocks, even though Apple hasn’t (yet) ported its Weather and Stocks apps to the iPad. Apple did show a glimpse of a new default Clock app for the iPad, so we won’t be shocked if Stocks and Weather finally make the leap to the big screen before iOS 6’s official release, too.
If you have lots of apps, sometimes it’s hard to figure out precisely which homescreen they’re located on. In iOS 6, Spotlight makes that at least a smidgen easier, by listing the name of the folder a particular app is nestled inside when it appears in the search results.
Apple introduced the Reminders app in iOS 5, and it looks to score some helpful updates in iOS 6. Apple says that you’ll be able to set location-based reminders from the iPad. Even better, you’ll be able to tap in addresses where you’d like to be reminded manually, a feature currently missing from Reminders; at present, you can only set reminders for locations linked to addresses for your existing contacts.
Also new in Reminders will be the ability to reorder your tasks as desired. And Apple told developers that iOS 6 includes a new Reminders API, which should make it possible for third-party apps to integrate with the Reminders database. That means that you could use Siri to set Reminders which would in turn be visible in your third-party task management app of choice.
Sometimes, you can’t take a call when your iPhone starts ringing. You can already quickly send a call to voicemail by tapping the Ignore button, but iOS 6 adds more powerful options for when you’re too busy to answer. When your phone rings, you’ll see a button on the screen akin to the new camera shortcut on the lock screen in iOS 5.1—a switch that you slide up to trigger.
When you do so, you’ll see options to send the caller a message, or to remind yourself to call the person back later. If you choose to send a message, iOS offers several default options; you can also save custom responses. Your iPhone will then attempt to iMessage or SMS the caller with your note, while also sending them straight to your voicemail.
Other features for developers include audio and video sampling during playback, Pass Kit (for interacting with Passbook), VoiceOver gestures, the ability to control camera focus and exposure, a Web Audio API, Game Center in-app experience, game groups, video stabilization, frame drop data, pull-to-refresh on Table views, a means of supporting in-app purchases of iTunes Store-hosted content, in-app Bluetooth pairing, remote Web Inspector, rich text on label fields and text views, CSS filters, crossfade with CSS animations, and a face detection API.
Lex Friedman is a Macworld staff writer.