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Apple iOS 6: Best New Features

Apple showed off tons of new features in iOS 6 at WWDC, including some hoped-for improvements and several complete surprises.

10 Gorgeous Apps For New iPad
10 Gorgeous Apps For New iPad
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Apple spent two hours delivering stats, news, and demonstrations during its WWDC presentation on Monday. Looking specifically at iOS 6, Apple's next-generation mobile platform adds more than 200 new features and is primed to debut this Fall. Here's what looks good and what Apple appears to have left out.

Facebook: Apple has finally included Facebook integration in iOS 6. It delivered Twitter integration in iOS 5, and that left many users crying foul over the lack of Facebook support. That changes with iOS 6. Once it arrives, iOS device users will be able to fire off status updates, share photos, and share links directly from within other iOS applications. The new sharing tools bring Facebook to the iPhone in a long-overdue way.

Siri: While Apple stopped short of calling the new Siri a 1.0 full release, but the personal assistant gains appreciable powers. First, it can open other applications. That means if you're sitting at your desk, you can grab your iPhone and ask Siri to open the music player, and she will. Same goes for tons of other apps and actions. The added number of apps with which Siri can interact is a serious improvement. The fact that it works better for researching sports scores/stats, movies times and ticket purchases, and dinner reservations is all a bonus.

[ Do you know the best place to get an iPhone? Read Virgin Prepaid iPhones: Do The Math. ]

Eyes Free: An interesting feature added to iOS is Eyes Free. Together with a dozen auto manufacturers, Apple is looking to add a dedicated "Siri" button in cars. This will let iOS device owners access Siri and their iPhone when driving without taking their eyes off the road. Worried about Microsoft's Sync much, Apple?

Passbook: The feature no one asked for. Passbook collects items such as movie tickets, train tickets, airline tickets, sporting event tickets and makes them all available digitally in one application--complete with QRCodes and 2-D barcodes. With Passbook, you can purchase apps through Fandango, have them sent to your iPhone, and then gain access to the movies theater by flashing your iPhone to the ticket counter. Neat.

Apple Maps: Apple officially dumped Google Maps in iOS 6. According to what Apple revealed, the new mapping tool for iOS devices offers turn-by-turn navigation, points-of-interest searching, integration with Siri for commands, and the ability to submit anonymous traffic/incident reports. It includes a flyover/3-D mode that offers incredible detail of U.S. cities, too. It looked impressive in the demos, but it remains to be seen if it can be a real Google Maps killer.

FaceTime Over Cellular: Finally. After two years of FaceTime, Apple has finally made it available over 3G cellular connections. Since launch it has only worked over Wi-Fi, which was a serious limitation. Now that it will be available over 3G, you can expect FaceTime's usage to increase exponentially. FaceTime will also combine a user's phone number and Apple ID, allowing them to answer either their phone or their FaceTime app on their phone or Mac.

Safari: Apple has copied some of its competitors with some much-needed upgrades features for Safari. First and foremost is the ability to sync open tabs from Safari on a desktop to Safari on an iOS device via iCloud. This also requires OS X Mountain Lion, but still, it took Apple long enough. Opera, Firefox, and others have offered this for ages.

Email: Apple didn't spend too much time on the new email for iOS application, but showed off two much-needed improvements. First, iOS device users will be able to designate VIP email senders. In other words, if you want to prioritize emails from your boss on your iPhone, you'll be able to. Much more important, however, is the ability to add pictures and videos to emails directly from the email application. In previous versions of iOS, if you wanted to add a photo, video, or other file, you had to do so directly from the photo application. This is a major headache that should have been cleared up a long time ago.

Beyond these stand-outs, Apple said that there are more than 200 other new features headed to its mobile platform. The first beta of iOS 6 is already available for registered developers to download. It will be available for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPad 2 and iPad 3 later this year.

New apps promise to inject social features across entire workflows, raising new problems for IT. In the new, all-digital Social Networking issue of InformationWeek, find out how companies are making social networking part of the way their employees work. Also in this issue: How to better manage your video data. (Free with registration.)

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