Of the new features, stand-outs include FaceTime over cellular, Passbook, Facebook integration, expanded Siri powers, Eyes Free, and the all-new 3-D mapping app from Apple.
1) Redesigned UI.
iOS has looked more or less the same since its January 2007 debut. Five and a half years is a long time for a mobile platform to look exactly the same. Though it appears Apple has tweaked the look and feel of iOS 6 a little, the overall behavior of the operating system is mostly unchanged. It doesn't look bad, but it is starting to show its age.
[ Are developers heading for iOS's greener pastures? Read Apple iOS Still Charming More Developers Than Android. ]
2) Dynamic home screen content.
One of Android's core strengths are the widgets available for the home screen panels. Even Microsoft's Windows Phone platform offers Live Tiles, which aren't as powerful as widgets, but still provide fresh content and data to the home screen.
3) Near-field communications (NFC) or Mobile Wallet.
iOS 6 includes something called Passbook. This tool can be used to collect movie, bus, and airline tickets and use them in lieu of paper tickets. Neat, but a bit limited. Apple didn't announce plans to support NFC within iOS 6, not did it show off any specific plans to offer a mobile wallet-type product. Of course, Apple could be holding back and reserving those features for a "one more thing" appearance when the next-gen iPhone is announced. For the moment, though, iOS 6 doesn't look like it will usher in the era of painless, paperless payments.
4) File management system.
One of the incremental improvements in iOS 6 is the ability to add photos or videos to emails from within the email application. Previously, you had to do this from the photo gallery application. This is a great new feature, but stops well short of offering iOS device owners full access to the files on their devices. Instead, users still must open files and folders through the application in which they were created. As much as I hate dealing with folders, better access to files--at least from the email app--would have been great.
5) Full backward compatibility.
Apple tends to keep its newest operating systems from its oldest hardware, and this year is no different. iOs 6 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4S. Still rocking an iPhone 3G or, merciful fates protect us, an original iPhone? Time to upgrade your hardware, my friend. The only iPod Touch compatible with iOS 6 is the fourth-generation model. As far as iPads go, the new iPad and the iPad 2 get iOS 6 gain access to iOS 6, but the original iPad does not.
Developers can download the beta version of iOS 6 and associated APIs from Apple's developer Web portal.
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