Everyone is talking about iPhone 5 and what it is and isn’t going to look like. While the hardware drives a lot of features, it’s the software that makes the device what it is. The OS, iOS6 and iTunes, are really going to drive what happens to the latest version of the phone that most everyone loves to hate. Here’s what I think (and would like to see) will happen with the latest version of both.
I’m working with iOS 6 right now, and have since Beta 1 was released in June 2012. Here are some of the changes that I see coming to the OS.
Apple is ditching Google Maps for a home rolled version of its own creating. You’re going to see a huge amount of work poured into this effort, with underpinnings for everything changing over. The tool also gets native turn by turn navigation built into the OS. Look for some serious changes to the GPS world as well as search in iPhone before it’s all crammed in the can.
Apple says that Passbook is for the stuff in your pockets – tickets, coupons, loyalty and discount cards, tickets, boarding passes, etc. Given that Apple is rumored to be working on an NFC solution for iPhone 5, this could be a shoe-in for winning the digital wallet contest, provided that it works with all iOS6 compatible iPhones and doesn’t REQUIRE NFC hardware.
There’s a lot going on under the hood with iOS6. You’re going to find that a lot of that shows up in the Settings area. One of the BEST things to happen to Settings is that Bluetooth has been moved OUT of General Settings and sits off the root of the applet. You’re also going to see specific settings for Twitter and Facebook integration that hasn’t been there before.
Music & iTunes Match
Playing music from your iCloud locker just got easier on your iPhone. With iOS6, you can now stream music directly from iCloud to your PC our linked iDevice. While you can still play content directly from the device, the upside is that if you didn’t sync something and got a hankerin’ for it, you can still listen to it.
Siri got the “six million dollar upgrade.” She’s better, faster stronger…and by far still Apple’s little iOS darling. Her accuracy has improved. She’s better at things than she was in iOS5. She still has a long way to go, though. I’d love to be able to use her to turn system components (like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) on and off. I’d still like to be able to tell Siri to find “X” Bluetooth device and pair with it. Perhaps that will come in a future update…one can only hope.
Reminders & Geofencing
This is a cool little dealio… You can now create a reminder that will go off when you arrive or leave a specific location. Reminders can now ping you to buy that gallon of milk when you get to a specific intersection or when you leave the office. You can even use Siri to set the geolocation specific reminder. My guess is that as Maps becomes more mature, you’re even going to get it to automatically start a navigation session when the reminder goes off.
Some nice UI updates here. Mail now supports the standard, “drag down to update” method. It’s not a huge improvement, but nice that the app that you rely on to get all of your mail goodness now works like every other iOS app out there.
Twitter and Facebook Integration
Updating your status is now easier than ever. You can use the iOS notification try to kick off an update to either social network. The biggest opportunity for growth however, is for Apple to put together a process that allows you to update both networks at once as well as individually. Right now, if you want the same update to go to both networks, you have to do each separately.
What Apple Needs To Do with iOS6
While iPhone hardware updates are great and will definitely drive sales, they need to go the extra mile with iOS6 and tie it all together there. iOS5 didn’t go far enough, especially with Siri, and we never really saw a tweak or update for her that helped us understand what Apple’s vision is for her. I’d love to be able to have a basic conversation with her about checking weather, meetings and to-do’s on my way to the train station and have her ask if I need or want to create any additional meetings, tasks or if I need to notify anyone of anything (based on mail or messages she should read to me while I drive). Yes, I may be getting way ahead of myself here, but I don’t really care. Based on what Apple has already implemented, it’s just a matter of time, effort and expense before we get there. We could be there now, if Apple concentrated solely on Siri for a while… It also wouldn’t matter where options were located in Settings if Siri could change things for you if you asked her to. I don’t want SkyNet, but I would like to see a bit more…
The other big thing Apple needs to concentrate on is Maps. Google Maps with Navigation is smokin’ hot. It is. Don’t be hatin’ ‘cuz I said it. Apple needs to spend time and effort here to bring this up to speed to give us back what we lost with the removal of Google Maps, PLUS what Google has on the Android side of things.
My initial tests with Maps indicate a great deal of promise, but again, Siri could help out a great deal here, too. My guess is that by the time iOS8 or 9 gets here, we won’t HAVE to do anything by hand on our iPhones. Siri should be able to do most of it for us.
Come back next time, and I’ll go into what is and should happen with iTunes as we get nearer to the release of iPhone 5 and iOS6.