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Apple Brings New Updates to iOS6 and Mountain Lion, Says Mac OS 10.8 Available Next Month

Tim Cook has wound up the Apple World Wide Developers Conference 2012 keynote and the Internet is collectively reeling from the blow. We’ve already taken a look at the new hardware Apple is rolling out, and now we turn our attention to the software. At the heart of the presentation is the forthcoming Mac operating system 10.8, or Mountain Lion to its friends, and iOS 6.

During the presentation, Apple’s plan to bring iOS and its desktop operating system closer together became clearer and clearer. Several of the announcements — some of which weren’t all that new — are specifically designed to move content between the two operating systems. Considering that we’re already at OS 10.8, and that there can only be two more updates under that naming convention, it feels like the end is in sight for Apple’s plans.

During the conference, Apple announced that iOS 6 would be available this Fall. However, a beta version is available today. Here’s what we can look forward to in iOS 6:

Siri

  • Apple debuted their version of the popular voice assistant just eight months ago, and already has a slew of new partnerships bringing new capabilities. In iOS 6, Siri will be able to answer questions about sporting events and stats thanks to partnerships with MLB, the NFL, and the NBA. Yelp and Rotten tomatoes integration will make it easy to look for restaurants and movies.
  • With that in mind, you’ll be able to make reservations through Siri as well. That just about updates Siri with all the functionality Apple stripped from it when they baked it into the OS.
  • Siri will now be able to launch apps. Though tapping the screen has never been all that difficult, this takes Siri beyond simply being an assistant and allows users to more-or-less run their phones with their voice.
  • Siri will now also be able to send Tweets and update your Facebook information. More on this later.
  • Apple has reached out to auto manufacturers to bring a “Siri button” into vehicles. This would allow people to give voice commands to Siri without taking their hands off the wheel. During the announcement, BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda were named as partners. Noticeably absent was Ford, whose Sync system is extremely similar.
  • Siri will also work on the iPad, and begin working with a slew of new languages and in many new locations around the world. This is a bold, if predictable move, for Apple, allowing them to bring these new features to a global market. If nothing else, it shows the level of confidence that Apple has for Siri.

Facebook Integration

  • Like Twitter, Facebook will be baked right into iOS 6. This allows for easy sharing of things like photos and locations right from their respective apps. Calendar will also be linked to Facebook, so joining an event on Facebook will automatically add it to your calendar.
  • Facebook contacts will also be synched with your contacts. Thus, when your pal Randy updates his phone number or email, it gets pushed right to your phone. This is, admittedly, a touch creepy. However, it does give some utility to actually having a Facebook account.
  • The App Store and iTunes store will also be receiving a dose of Facebook integration. With the new updates to iOS 6, users will be able to like and recommend tracks and apps on Facebook. Remember Ping? It’s future looks more uncertain than ever.
  • In addition to all of this, Apple is providing a iOS Facebook API. This will give developers an easy, integrated way to bring Facebook activity to their apps. It also cements Apple’s control over how information flows through the phone.
  • Facebook integration will also be coming to Mac OS 10.8 as well.

Passbook

  • A completely new app from Apple, Passbook will be the single location for storing electronic tickets, loyalty cards, and coupons.
  • Prepaid cards will display the amount remaining in the account and will be scannable by retailers.
  • Airplane tickets will be fully scanable, and in the case of United will automatically update with gate information if it should change.
  • Coupons and tickets purchased on your phone will be stored in Passbook for easy access.
  • Passbook is location and time aware, so if you book tickets for a particular theater it will remind you to get there and pull up the tickets when you arrive.
  • All of these features have been present in other apps for some time, but Passbook puts it all in one place with some new capabilities.

Maps

  • The long awaited Apple-made successor to the Google Maps app which launched with the iPhone back in 2007.
  • The app finally brings turn-by-turn directions to a native iPhone app. When coupled with Siri and the car integration mentioned above, this could easily become a powerhouse for Apple. Ask Siri where to get a burger, and it will give you directions.
  • All new map information designed by Apple. In general, it looks more Apple-like and fits better with the overall aesthetic of the phone.
  • Info cards for businesses are now updated with Yelp information. This alone demonstrates why an Apple Map app makes more sense than Google — Google maps is a product that has to stand on its own, while Apple is platform that can tie multiple information sources together. Hopefully.
  • Using anonymous data gathered from iPhone users, Apple can push traffic information to their map app. Additionally, the turn-by-turn directions will adjust to help you avoid snags and snarls. Android’s Google maps app has had this capability for some time.
  • The new map app will also feature fully rendered 3D views of cities in addition to overhead satellite photos. This is very similar to what we saw last week in Google’s map announcement. Like Google, Apple apparently gathered this imagery with a fleet of airplanes.

Everything Else

  • Some 200 new features are said to be coming to iOS 6. These are just a few of them.
  • iOS Mail will feature pull to refresh and VIP status for your contacts. Emails from VIPs are easy to find in your inbox and push special notifications to the lock screen.
  • Apple will be rolling out shared photostreams, where groups of people can have selected photos automatically shared between them. These will be viewable in iOS and on the iCloud web front end. You’ll even be able to comment.
  • Fine grain privacy controls will allow you to control what information apps can access. Rest easy!
  • A new “lost” mode will allow you to send a phone number to your lost iPhone. If someone finds it, they can click the number and the phone will call you.
  • iBooks, iTunes, and the App Store have all been redesigned.
  • Mobile sites will no feature smart banners to redirect visitors to a website’s app. What’s more, if they download the app, it will pick up right where they left off from viewing the mobile site.
  • Transit apps — like subway maps — will be promoted by Apple in the app store and featured directly in the new map app. This one time, Apple decides to not bake in a bunch of good ideas and put some apps out of business.
  • Artists can now sell music from within an app without being redirected to iTunes. One assumes these are still iTunes purchases, however.
  • Guided Access makes it easy for young kids to play with the iPhone or iPad without messing anything up. Parents can outline buttons they want disabled on the screen, and can even temporarily turn the iPhone or iPad into a single-app device.
  • The actual phone portion of iOS will receive an refesh as well. Users will now have the option to create a reminder or text a response to a missed call. Additionally, users can also have the phone “remind me when I leave an area.” This creates a geofence that once crossed reminds you to make the call.
  • Do Not Disturb offers finegrain control about what calls and notifications you want receive. With it, users can group contacts and allow some to ring through and others to be ignored while in Do Not Disturb mode. All the notifications are still gathered by the phone, they are just available when you want them.
  • A FaceTime call can now be answered from a desktop Mac or iPad. Same for an iMessage. All this is possible because phone numbers will now be associated with your Apple ID.
  • Safari will now feature Cloud Tabs, which let you pick up browsing from your computer. This works the opposite way as well, thanks to the updated Safari in OS 10.8. Additionally, iOS Safari will feature an offline reading list.

Mountain  Lion will be debuting this July, and will be a digital download like OS 10.7. It will cost a mere $19.99 and will not require Lion — instead, it will be an upgrade from Snow Leopard users and higher.

We’ve already seen quite a bit of Mountain Lion, but there were some new features. Here are the highlights for Mac OS 10.8 AKA Mountain Lion:

  • Dictation, but not Siri, will be coming to Mac OS 10.8. Users will be able to speak what they want typed, all within the OS, and have it appear as text. This actually works fairly well on iOS, and we can expect the same — if not better — experience in Mountain Lion.
  • Apple has introduced a new “share” button which will appear throughout the OS. Clicking it will allow for files to be easily pushed around through Mail, Messages, or AirDrop. Additionally, users will be able to create posts for Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or Vimeo through the share button. Noticeably absent are all Google products, including Google+ and (more conspicuously) YouTube.
  • Close Facebook integration will be coming to Mac OS but, interestingly, not before it rolls out for iOS. Of all the new goodies to look forward to in Mountain Lion, this is the only one that says that it won’t be available until the Fall. Like in iOS it will provide notifications in the OS’s previously announced Notifications Center, and will also update your contact info between your Facebook friends.
  • AirPlay will also be expanded to include not just movies and media content but full-on screen mirroring. Great for presentations.
  • Game Center will be expanded to include Mac games, and will also allow for those games to appear on TV screens thanks to AirPlay. Startlingly, it appears that iOS games will be playable on your Mac. The point here is to make your gaming experience as seamless as possible.
  • Power Nap, a completely new capability, lets your Mac update its iCloud data while in sleep mode. And, if there’s a power cord connected, it will even update the software back up the system to TimeMachine. All this without spinning up the fan or turning on any lights. With all the iOS and iCloud integration coming to Mac, this is going to be vital.
  • Messages, the revamp to iChat, will now be able to take advantage of user phone numbers connected to your AppleID. With it, FaceTime calls and messages sent to your phone — along with image and video attachments — will appear in Messages.
  • Two big changes are coming to Safari. First and foremost, Safari will now feature a Chrome-like omnibox that handles both URLs and search. Finally. Secondly, Safari can now sync with your mobile device via the iCloud. You can now add pages to your offline reading list for later, and browse the tabs that are open on your mobile devices.

(via Leo Laporte’s livestream, Engadget’s liveblog, and Apple)

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