Features

Hands-on: The 20 coolest features in iOS 6

Siri for iPad! Facebook! Game Center challenges!

Hands-on: The 20 coolest features in iOS 6
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iOS
| iOS 6

At WWDC yesterday, Apple announced the next operating system for all current iPhones and iPads: the feature-filled iOS 6.

Later this year, all compatible devices will receive handy new features like Facebook integration, FaceTime over 3G and Shared photo streams. Maps will get an overhaul, and Siri will become more useful.

We went hands-on with the update, and picked out 20 features that will make this update worth grabbing when it goes live towards in the autumn/fall.

Siri improvements

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Voice-activated assistant Siri will now be able to pull up sport scores, list current movies and, finally, find businesses in the UK. She works on (the new) iPad, too.

Facebook integration

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Like Twitter, you'll now be able to post to your Facebook wall - directly from Safari, any supported app, or from a handy new button in the notification centre.

All new maps

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Apple is no longer relying on Google to provide maps. It's got its own solution, with turn by turn navigation, traffic display and even snazzy 3D cityscapes - but only in a few cities.

Shared photo streams

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Here's a handy way to send your holiday photos to another iOS-toting pal. Instead of emailing or uploading your snaps, just share a handful of shots in a Photo Stream folder.

Photo upload in Safari

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Finally. You can now upload photos in Safari, meaning you can use image services like Photobucket with downloading another app. Also, Pocket Gamer staffers can file stories from bed. Ta, Apple.

iCloud Tab

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The coolest new feature in Safari is iCloud Tab, which lets you quickly sync your current web page between devices. But who uses Safari on desktop?

Call me back

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Ever had your phone ring in an important meeting? Now you can pull up a menu to send a quick "Sorry, can't talk now!" text, and set a reminder to call them back.

Do Not Disturb

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This feature makes sure your device doesn't light up and chirp in the middle of the night. You can also set your gadget to automatically sleep on a daily schedule.

FaceTime over 3G

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Previously exclusive to wi-fi, video chat app FaceTime will now work anywhere you can get a 3G signal. Apple's unifying Apple IDs and phone numbers, too, so you can pick up FaceTime phone calls on your iPad.

Offline reading list

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The mark of a good iOS update is the number of non-native apps it makes obsolete. With the ability to save long articles so you can read them offline, iOS 6 might just make Instapaper seem a little unnecessary.

VIP mailbox

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Mark someone as a VIP in mail, and you'll see a star next to their messages - in your mail list and in notifications. They'll get a special inbox, too.

Email attachments

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Another "finally!" feature. You can now attach images and videos from mail itself, rather than having to start the process in the photos app.

Passbook on iPhone

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Passbook collects all your digital movie tickets, receipts, boarding passes and loyalty cards. QR codes in the app can be scanned at the till.

Clock on iPad

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iPad users finally get a native clock app. It's got alarms, timers, Siri support and a world clock page: complete with a map of the globe.

Game Center on Mac

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OS X users will get access to the green felt thrills of Game Center come July. For iOS users, that means more opponents in cross-platform multiplayer.

Open apps with Siri

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There's a new way to launch apps on Siri-supported devices. Open the assistant and say "Play" followed by the name of a game, and you'll be whisked into the app. Siri, play Angry Birds Space!

Personal dictionary in iCloud ios6-dictionary

Your iOS device builds a dictionary, based on the things you type and the autocorrections you reject. This personalised dictionary will now sync between devices, using iCloud.

Game Center challenges

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Earned a killer score in Temple Run? Find the high score in Game Center, and give it a tap to challenge other players to beat you.

App Store overhaul

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You're no longer booted out of the App Store when you buy or update an app, you can Tweet and post to Facebook from the Store, and the new look is rather swish. All in all, a much needed update to the App Store.

Privacy ios6-privacy

A new "Privacy" tab under settings reveals which apps are trying to access your personal bits and bobs like location, contacts, calendar data and your photo roll. Use this to keep nosey apps out of your business.