During a packed two-hour keynote presentation, Apple has given us out first look at the next generation of MacBook Pro laptops at WWDC 2012, as well as the next version of OS X, and most importantly for us, iOS 6.
It was introduced by Apple’s senior VP of iPhone software, Scott Forstall, who revealed that the company has sold 365 million iOS devices, and that 80% of them run the latest version of the operating system, iOS 5. This figure was put into context with a slide showing Android’s fragmentation, and Ice Cream Sandwich’s 7% share.
iOS 6 will contain more than 200 new features, and as with previous WWDC keynotes, Forstall went through 10 of the most important.
Siri was at the top of the list, and Apple’s assistant will gain several new languages, including Italian, French and Spanish, plus a wealth of new commands. These include Twitter, listing cinema times, sports scores, nearby restaurants and the ability to open apps.
Siri will also leave the safety of the iPhone and be made available on the new, third generation iPad too.
Next up was Facebook integration, which works in almost the same way as Twitter already does in iOS 5, plus a new ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, complete with a scheduler to silence the phone during certain pre-determined periods.
In iOS 5, FaceTime only works over Wi-Fi, but iOS 6 will add 3G too, plus Safari will get a full screen mode in landscape and will share open tabs and your reading list with iCloud, keeping all you Apple devices in sync.
Perhaps the biggest change in iOS 6 will be in the Maps app. As suspected, Google Maps has been dropped, and Apple will replace it with mapping software of its own design. It’ll feature everything from turn-by-turn navigation, points-of-interest and traffic reports, to Flyover, a feature which shows real time rendered aerial shots of major international cities.
These were all joined by improved accessibility with Guided Access, changes to the Mail app including the introduction of a VIP mailbox, the chance to share your Photo Stream with friends and for them to comment on your pictures, plus Lost Mode in Find My iPhone, which shares a telephone number for the finder to call.
One new app was announced. Named Passbook, it will hold all your virtual store cards, tickets, passes and airline tickets in one, handy place. Templates are provided to make it easy for developers to add their services to the app.
iOS 6 has been released as a beta today, and will be released to the public in the autumn, when it will be compatible with the iPhone 3GS and up, the iPad 2 and new iPad, plus the 4th generation iPod Touch.