Apple previews iOS 6 at WWDC

As expected, Apple used its keynote at the WWDC event to launch iOS 6. It also confirmed, more or less, all the features we expected to appear in it.

'iOS 6 continues the rapid pace of innovation that is helping Apple reinvent the phone and create the iPad category, delivering the best mobile experience available on any device,' said Scott Forstall, Apple's senior VP of iOS Software. 'We can’t wait for hundreds of millions of iOS users to experience the incredible new features in iOS 6 including the new Maps app, expanded Siri support, deep Facebook integration, Shared Photo Streams and the innovative new Passbook app.'

Heading up iOS 6 is an all-new Maps app with vector-based map elements and turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions, along with a Flyover feature for 'photo-realistic interactive 3D views'. Apple is also adding in real-time traffic information to keep you updated on how long it will take to get to your destination plus alternate time-saving routes if traffic conditions change significantly.

Siri will come to the iPad, but only the last version of Apple's tablet. There will also be increased language support and the option to update your status on Facebook, post to Twitter or launch an app with a few words. Siri also gets a new Eyes Free mode, enabling you to interact with your iPhone using nothing more than your voice.

Another rumour coming to fruition is built-in Facebook integration, allowing you to sign in once and post from Notification Center, Siri and Facebook-enabled apps, including Photos, Safari and Maps. Your Facebook friends’ information is kept up to date across all your iOS devices, automatically updating details in Contacts when they change, and scheduling events and birthdays in your Calendar. You can also 'Like' content directly from the App Store and iTunes and see what your friends are liking too.

Shared Photo Streams are also being introduced. Pick the photos you want to share, pick which friends you want to receive the album, and the Shared Photo Stream album is instantly available on their iOS devices, iPhoto, via the web or on an Apple TV. You and your friends can leave comments or 'Like' any photo in a shared album.

Passbook is another new feature, with the option to scan your iPhone or iPod touch to use a coupon, get into a concert or check into your hotel. Passbook automatically displays your passes on your Lock Screen based on a specific time or location, so when you walk into your favourite place, your loyalty card appears for scanning. Passbook can even alert you to last minute gate changes or flight delays at the airport. Just make sure you have enough charge in your phone at the airport.

Finishing things off are enhancements to Safari, such as iCloud tabs, offline reading lists, photo uploads and full screen view, support for FaceTime over data networks, the ability to set up a VIP Mailbox, making it easier to quickly view messages from people listed as 'important', and an option to decline calls with a new 'Do Not Disturb' option.

Got all that? Good. Now you'll want to know when you can get it, we presume? That's down as autumn, which is around the same time as the new iPhone (we would guess). iOS 6 is coming to all current devices in varying degrees, with the exception of the first generation iPad. Sadly, that is being pensioned off with this update.

For everyone else, just sit tight for three months.

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