To an audience of several thousand OS X and iOS developers, Apple today unveiled several expected products at its WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Francisco: the iOS 6 mobile operating system used in the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch; additional features for the previously announced OS X Mountain Lion; and both an all-new thin MacBook Pro design and hardware upgrades to its existing MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptop lines.
But the company also announced a few surprises, such as an effort to put its Siri voice-based assistant technology in cars.
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iOS 6: Greater cross-platform integration and expanded Siri services
Apple revealed a slew of new capabilities for iOS; the iOS 6 update is expected to ship this fall. It will run on the iPad 2 and later, the iPhone 3G S and later, and the fourth-generation iPod Touch. Registered developers can download the beta software today.
Among its new capabilities are an updated Phone app that lets you tag incoming calls for follow-up, such as for when you are in a meeting. Apple is also unifying the Apple ID across OS X and iOS devices so that you can answer a call on any device you happen to have handy.
As widely expected, Apple has replaced its Google-based Maps app and service with one of its own creation; Apple did its own cartography work and took its own images for on-the-ground photos. The Siri-enabled app's services include local business search, traffic conditions, 3D flyover and on-the-street views of cities, and turn-by-turn navigation that will update the suggested route based on traffic conditions.
And Apple's FaceTime videoconferencing service for iOS and OS X devices will now work via cellular connections on iOS devices. iOS 6 is also adopting the "do not disturb" capability from OS X Mountain Lion that lets you turn off alert notifications until you want to see them; all notifications received during that quiet period remain available in the Notification Center. iOS 6 lets you schedule the do-not-disturb periods, such as for recurring meetings. Safari in iOS 6 can upload photos as well as support the iCloud-synced tabs capability introduced in OS X Mountain Lion. And Photos can now share photos with other iOS users. The Mail app gains the ability to open password-protected Office documents, and it adopts the VIP-tagging capability introduced in OS X Mountain Lion.
Apple is addressing one long-standing criticism of iOS by enabling individual mail signatures per account; iOS has always used one signature for all accounts. Other new capabilities include Chinese search and social network integration, as Apple is also doing in OS X Mountain Lion. Apple also says it is working with manufacturers to iPhone-enable hearing aids.
New apps include Passbook, which lets you store all electronic boarding passes and other tickets from multiple airlines, rail systems, hotels, and entertainment venues in one location. The app even displays your ticket on the lock screen when you arrive at the airport or theater.
The Siri voice-based personal assistant in the iPhone 4S is being made available for the third-generation iPad. For both the iPad and iPhone 4S, it is also being updated to support more contexts, such as sports, dining, and movie information. Also new is support for launching apps by voice command, for the Open Table restaurant reservations service's iOS app, and for Facebook, including an API that third-party apps can use to work with Facebook via Siri.
On the automobile front, Apple is working with Audi, Chysler, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota to Siri-enable their cars, so you can control the iPhone or iPad via voice through the car's stereo system.