Apple’s Special Event is scheduled for next Wednesday. At it, we assume, we will see the new iPhone (or whatever it’s called) and won’t be surprised if we see a new iPod lineup. We’re still hopeful we will see the iPad mini, but all indications are that Apple will wait a bit. After all, why would they announce two much-anticipated devices at the same time and, in the process, compete with themselves for attention. The iPhone 5, new iPod touch and nano etc are not, however, the reason for this post.
No, this post is about the three features I’m most excited to see in iOS 6.0. I have been using a beta version of the OS on my “demo” iPad as well as my iPhone, and I have found it to be rock solid from the start. The reason for this, I suspect, is that iOS 6.0 isn’t as big a leap forward as previous point updates. Yes, there are some key new features, but a lot of this update is about Apple refining their mobile operating system. Changes like the new maps app (sans Google), a more powerful Siri, Facebook integration and moving the Bluetooth toggle into a more accessible position are nice but, to my thinking, there are stand-out features. I thought we might take a quick look at each.
Coming in at number three on the list of my favorite features in iOS 6.0 is Shared Photo Streams. Shared Photo Streams means your page of Photo Stream images isn’t just YOUR Photo Stream, but will it now allow you to link to someone else and put new images there as well. Why, you might wonder, is this a big deal? After all, you can email images if need be right? Yes, you can. But think about the time, effort and thought it takes to do that. Plus, emailing images is limited in both the number of photos and the size of the attachment you send. It is… cumbersome.
With Shared Photo Streams I can, for example, share my stream with the other editors. Then, when I take pictures, Judie, Carly and Mike will immediately have them. Why is that handy? Well, imagine I am at an event and snapping pictures. Normally I would have to wait until later before I could process the images and post them. With Shared Photo Streams the images are immediately in the hands of others who can take them, clean them up, add a line or two of text and post within seconds. That’s a huge help and something I can see being quite useful at the media events I will be attending in the next few weeks and, of course, CES in January.
Coming in at number two on the list of my favorite features in iOS 6.0, is VIP Contacts. Between my work as a rabbi and here on Gear Diary, I am flooded with email on a daily basis. And while some of it is extremely important much of it falls into the category of “not urgent” or “not important in the least”. With SO much email coming in however, it is far too easy to miss an important email wedged between spam. VIP contacts means I can identify specific people and have emails from them come in identified with a star. I can even choose to ONLY see emails from VIPs. It is a quick, easy and clean way to sort through the ever-growing pile of email and help insure I don’t miss the ones that really matter.
Finally, coming in at number one on the list of my favorite features in iOS 6.0, is the feature I mentioned in last week’s newsletter – Do Not Disturb. This feature brings the ability to set specific times when notifications are turned off. Silencing my phone at night has long been a bit of a dilemma to me. Because of my work as a Rabbi, I need to be on call much of the time. That means I either have to have my iPhone on, and potentially disturbing Elana and me late at night, or I silence my phone at night and, potentially miss an emergency call. And yes, I do get calls late at night.
With iOS 6.0, I’m now able to set my devices to shut down all notifications starting at 10 PM and to resume at 7 AM. while still allowing specific contacts to ring through. For example, my parents’ number and the synagogue’s emergency line are ALWAYS on and ring through, while other calls and emails don’t. The result? I can go to sleep, have my iPhone set to silent and be assured that an emergency call WILL ring through. Why this feature, something we’ve seen for years on other platforms, took until now to make it to iOS is beyond me, but I sure am happy it is here.
Best of all, while some legacy devices will be left behind, many existing iOS devices will be able to take advantage of most or all of the new features. The new iPhone will be announced Wednesday, and that means Apple is ready to release the final version of iOS 6.0.
There’s a lot to like in iOS 6.0, and I think you will be pleased. Sure there are things missing … like onscreen widgets and an even more accessible Bluetooth toggle but, on the whole, it is a solid update. You can see Apple’s full rundown of features here.