Apple iOS 6 preview: First Look
Updated Stores and system apps, new icons, better Settings
With iOS 6 Apple has updated the App Store and iTunes Store and content handling. Both stores have different Featured pages with scrollable rows rather than lists. The paintjob was changed too.
In addition to the added eye-candy the App Store now has a slightly different manner of operation. First you won't be prompted to enter your password when you just update apps. Second, you can see the change log in the Updates screen without actually opening the info screen.
Finally, after you buy or update apps you will no longer be kicked back to the homescreen - you can continue browsing the store. You can launch apps you've already installed from within the store too.
The Game Center is another part of iOS to get Facebook integration and it also now supports challenges. Those can be given to you from a friend or a game and you will earn an achievement if you beat it.
The Weather app and Music player have undergone slight redesigns, too, but their functionality has remained unchanged.
Another change is that the Camera UI is now black> We also like the changed in the iPhone settings menu. The brightness setting is now in the wallpaper screen, while the Bluetooth toggle has been promoted and now sits right next to the Wi-Fi toggle - now that's a life-saver.
Also, if you turn on the auto brightness, your iDevice will be in full control of the brightness and will move the slider above the toggle to show the currently selected setting. This means that you can now see exactly how bright the screen is, but you are unable to fine-tune the auto mode like you could in the previous iOS versions.
The Settings and Clock apps have updated icons, too. And mentioning the Clock app, you must know that now you can access the iPod music library and assign any song as an alarm tone. Finally!
Lost Mode and Guided Access
The last two features we are going to mention are the Guided Access and the Lost Mode.
The Guided Access locks the iDevice to work with a single app only. It cannot be closed unless Guided Access is disabled. While active - all hardware controls are disabled - lock, home, volume and switch. When configured, you launch an app, then triple-tap the Home key, enter the password and done - the iGadget is now locked on to this specific app until you triple-tap the home key again and enter the right password.
This means that the Guided access could work quite well as as kid or test mode. It will allow you to give your iDevice to your kid without being worried that it will access inappropriate content or mess up your settings and apps.
The Lost Mode is part of the former Find My iPhone service. If you lose your gadget, you can lock (but not wipe) it remotely and send a message with your contact (and reward) information.
The iOS 6 brings plenty of stuff and most of the new features are well implemented. There might not really be 200 things to cheer about, but there's enough to make a difference, giving a new lease of life to every iDevice that gets it.
The highlight feature is of course Maps. It's what Notifications was to iOS 5. Come to think of it, the two major novelties in iOS in two consecutive years are things the competition has already had for a while. The voice navigation is certainly a nice boost though, and the Siri integration might take the personal navigator experience to a whole new level.
Then again, maybe iOS 6 was never expected to win new customers from the competition. Maybe that is a task reserved for the upcoming iPhone 5 (or probably just new iPhone) which will debut alongside the platform, and iOS 6 was all about improving the user experience for those already in the Apple camp.
It certainly looks so and we are tempted to congratulate Apple on a job well done. This is a beta release of the iOS 6 for developers with the official release expected this fall. Delivering a few new tweaks and a few major additions is the typical Apple approach to software upgrade. It's not like they overpromised and under-delivered. Not at all actually. But their upcoming hardware is the real news we're all waiting for.