The Rest of the New Features of iOS 6

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 25th, 2012

At events like the WWDC keynote from earlier this month, Apple is fond of throwing up a slide touting how many new features a product has. At WWDC, we saw that iOS 6 has 200 new features. But the event itself is limited and not all of those features can be listed and even fewer can be talked about in the keynote itself. We took the list presented at the keynote and listed the ones not talked about and present a hefty does of informed speculation about what the new features mean.

Game Center Features

Game Groups - This one is really unknown right now. But I read one thing into it, gaming clans. At least that's what I hope it is. The ability to create Game Center based clans, that can persist between games, would be fantastic.
Game Center Friends from Facebook - You can find Game Center friends from your Facebook friends. When a Game Center user signs up their Facebook account in iOS 6, it links their Game Center account allowing you to find each other.
Game Center Challenges - When you hit a high score, it will now be easier to challenge your friends to beat that score.
Game Center in-app experience - More of Game Center will be exposed directly in the game, no need to go to the Game Center app to perform some functions.

New Maps App

Transit Apps - How this will function is unknown. Apple chose to leave out transit info in their new Maps app and instead look to third party app developers to provide that feature. To what extent that data will be present in the Maps app is a big unknown. At the keynote it was mentioned that Apple would "integrate, promote, and feature" transit apps within the Maps app.
Map Kit - this is the API that developer use to integrate the new Maps into their applications.

Camera Changes

Lots of interesting changes to the Camera APIs should allow for even greater manual control of the camera from third-party apps.

Control Camera Focus and Exposure - The ability to control the focus and exposure without just point to spots on the screen will go a long way to giving developers the ability to provide full manual controls in their camera apps.
Video Stabilization - Video stabilization was only available in the built-in Camera app. It will now be available to third party apps.
Face Detection API - The face detection feature used in the Camera app will now be available in third party apps as well. Might make for some interesting app usage even outside camera apps.
Read and write image metadata - The metadata of an image contain things like when and where the image was taken and loads of info on what settings were used to capture the image. It also contains info on the photographer and copyright. This new API for developers will allow them to read that metadata and write it back out much more quickly.
HDR Improvements - The HDR mode is an interesting and misunderstood mode in the camera. Any improvements are greatly anticipated.

International Changes

Features for China - Some new special features for China were mentioned in the Mountain Lion announcement and that these features would also be coming to iOS. These included among other thing special email providers, better fonts, and a new search service.
Autocorrection for every keyboard - We can only assume this means embarrassing autocorrect mistakes are coming to all languages.
French, German, and Spanish dictionaries - More languages in the built-in dictionary.
Improved keyboard layouts - Better layouts for some languages.

Safari Changes

Faster Safari JavaScript - Faster is almost always better. Most certainly better in this case.
App in Safari search results - This one I can only guess on. Somehow presenting apps in search results would be the obvious answer, but I'm not sure how happy Google would be if Apple modified their search results. [Ed. note: Might this be something from the Chomp acquisition?]

Accessibility Changes

Made for iPhone hearing aids - A special modification to hearing aids to make them work better with iPhones.
VoiceOver improvements - Improvements to the already impressive VoiceOver features will make a lot of users happy.
Word highlights for speak selection - Highlight each word as spoken when speak selection is used.
VoiceOver Gestures - Gestures to control VoiceOver.

UI Changes

Auto Layout - This is a big one, and points to the possibility of iOS devices with differing resolutions. It's a carry-over from Mac OS X and allows developers to layout the items on the screen relative to each other and screen position yet independent of screen resolution. Locations and sizes are specified with percentages instead of pixels. TechCrunch has more on this specific feature.
Pull to refresh on Table views - Demoed in the keynote on on the Mail app, pull to refresh is now a UI Kit option that all apps using standard UI Kit controls can use.
Rich Text on Labels, Fields, and Text Views, Crossfade with CSS Animation, CSS Filters - Modifications to the text display features in the iOS UI Kit. Woo hoo!
Action Sheet - If you saw the keynote, perhaps you saw the new dialog that came up when the share icon was pressed. Instead of a text button list, a large, expandable icon grid will now be presented.

iOS Core Changes

Improved privacy controls - Under iOS 5, when an app first requests access to your location information, you receive a pop-up with that request. Under iOS 6, that same permission system is expanded to contacts, photos, and calendar info.
Custom vibrations for alerts - Introduced in iOS 5 as a Accessibility feature, this will now be exposed to allow custom alerts even if not using the Accessibility features.
Personal dictionary in iCloud - Your personal dictionary, words that you have added to the device dictionary, will be synced across your devices.
Lost Mode - a special mode for Find my iPhone. You can send a phone number to the phone that will be the only phone number that phone can call while unlocked. It also will send the device location more regularly to the Find my iPhone app so you can track, in near real time, the device location.
Global network proxy for HTTP - Can only guess on this one that much like a VPN there will be a method to use a proxy to tunnel all HTTP traffic from the device through.

Built-in App Changes

Alarm with song - You will no longer be restricted to just ringtones for alarms, you can now use music from your library as alarms.
Manual reorder for Reminders - The reminders in the reminders app can be reordered as you see fit.
Manual location entry for reminders - Under iOS 5, you could only choose your current location, or a location from your address book. Under iOS 6 you can enter a location to use.
Redesigned Stores - The iTunes App Store, Music store, and Video stores all get a facelift under iOS 6. One of the best features is that now when you download something it won't immediately leave the store. This will allow you to download multiple apps at once for instance. In addition, we've seen on Twitter that newly downloaded apps that haven't been launched will appear with a New banner across their corner to draw attention to the newest installed apps.
Per account signatures in Mail - No more single signature for your work and personal accounts. Each account can have it's own signature.
Search all fields in contacts - Previously just the name and company fields were searched. Now all fields will be searchable.
New iPad Clock App - The iPad is left without a Stocks app, but the new iPad Clock app has integrated weather as well.
Location-based reminders for iPad - Location reminders were restricted to the iPhone. They now work on the iPad as well.

Audio/Video SDK Changes

Frame drop data - This data can be used by developers to improve their apps and increase the animation smoothness.
Multi-route audio - No specifics known, but this usually means the ability to pass an audio stream through multiple audio processors to produce the sound.
Inter-app audio - This one is interesting. Taken at name value it seems as though one app will be able to intercept/process audio from another app. Example, play music in Spotify, switch to another app which can modify the sound or read it and produce a visualization. A more basic interpretation would be passing audio, more as a file, from one app to another.
Audio and Video Sampling During Playback - The ability to sample, and possibly change audio and video during playback.
Web Audio API - Hmmm. No idea.

Other Changes

Pass Kit - This is the API unveiled to allow applications to present data in the Passbook app. Tickets, boarding passes, coupons, etc. The API allows app developers to put these items in your Passbook.
Kernel ASLR - It's a technical thing. But basically it means it will make iOS faster.
IPv6 support for Wi-Fi and LTE - IPv6 has been coming for a decade now. It may be years before we switch to it, but at least iOS 6 will support it over Wi-Fi and LTE.
Remote Web Inspector - An update to a bit of code in the Safari web browser that lets web developers look into the internals of Javascript apps running on the device. Used for debugging of mobile web apps.
Bluetooth MAP support - This was the part of the keynote where Apple may have overstated their involvement with auto makers. Bluetooth MAP is the speak button on the steering wheel that lets the driver do some action on the device. In the case of iOS 6, that's speak to Siri.
In-app Bluetooth pairing - Bluetooth pairing under iOS 5 requires that users go to the Settings app to set up. Under iOS 6, there will be methods in the SDK to allow that to happen in the app. Will help for pairing Bluetooth devices with dedicated apps all without leaving the apps.
State Preservation - This will help apps resume where they left off when you restart them. Not sure what the improvements are over the current feature though.
In-app purchase hosted content, In-App Content Purchases - These have to do with a change Apple is making with in-app purchased content. Think media like movies or magazine issues. For iOS 6, Apple will host the media files themselves. I'm sure this is for the benefit of Apple, but I'm not sure what that benefit is. For end-users, the process will be more robust and less likely to fail.

The above are only some of the 200 new features coming to iOS 6. We'll post more when the NDA expires and iOS 6 has been released.

Posted in: News, First Looks
Tagged With: Iphone, Features, IPad, Operating system, Ios 6
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