While in San Diego for Cisco Live, Apple released iOS 6 for developers. Being a developer and a tech addict, it didn’t take me long to download what I needed to get it installed. If you don’t know all the new features, there are plenty of places to find a list. Here’s a bit of what I have used and how it feels overall.
Maps and Turn by Turn Navigation: To get home from Cisco Live, I decided to do a trial by fire and use Maps instead of my tried and true navigation app of choice. I use TomTom on my iPhone to get around when I need it. I’ve been a user of their software in one way or another for almost 10 years between Windows Mobile 5 apps, purpose built hardware, and then the iPhone. It’s hard for me to get away from that interface. Apple did a pretty good job but it’s not quite there yet. The 3D view and screen are gorgeous, only what you’d come to expect from Cupertino, and the application is as easy to use as it has always been. When you leave the app to do something else but still have navigation running, you even get the “Touch to Return to Navigation” banner across the top. It was quick to reroute, clearly spoken by Siri, and didn’t stray into any areas I didn’t want to be. (Although, getting from San Diego to Santa Clarita is pretty much one road the whole way) I do feel that the app could benefit from the options of having speed, ETA, time traveled, distance, and all the other little things that shouldn’t be too hard to add to the interface. All in all, it’s a fantastic start and I can’t wait to see future revisions.
Facebook Integration: Just as we have had with Twitter for the past year, Facebook now shows up in the menus as a sharing and posting option. Same idea, nothing new, but a welcomed addition for most.
Do Not Disturb: This unexpected feature will be used by most of us in tech. How can I turn of my phone so work can’t forget I’m not on call but not turn off my phone so my wife can reach me? Do Not Disturb allows me to schedule a time where no messages, push notifications, or phone calls can interrupt me, except from certain people (favorites) or repeated calls (a repeated call is when a call is made from the same person twice within 3 minutes). The quiet hours schedule is only a "From: To:" time based setup, not configurable by day, which would be even better. Just as with the Maps App, this is a nice addition and needs some polishing but will prove useful.
Siri Enhancements: Now you can launch apps, tweet, and post to your Facebook wall all from Siri. Do I need to say anymore? I haven’t played with this one a lot, I posted one note to Facebook and tried to tweet. (tweeting produces an error that Siri apologizes profusely for) I was successful is asking Siri for the location of a restaurant based on local reviews, then had her get me directions and start turn by turn navigation. I don’t know how they did it, but she just feels a little more polished.
App Store: The look and feel has been updated. Not a big deal for me but there was a noticeable update; no more being punted to the home screen after running updates or installing a new app.
Facetime over 3G: Should have been this way from the beginning, but now it’s here. Enjoy.
Final Thoughts: For the first release of a developer preview this is a solid product. My battery life has taken a bit of a hit as expected (go Mophie Juicepack!) but I haven’t had any other issues like I did last year when I grabbed iOS 5 early. I expect good things to be coming and hopefully a new phone brings us a few more unexpected features this fall.