Apple iOS 6 review: Moving forward
Multilingual Siri knows more
The first and most important news about Siri is iPad 3 support. So, it's no longer exclusive to the iPhone 4S and 5 but still not quite what iPhone 4 owners wanted to hear.
Siri speaks new languages too: Canadian English and French, Spanish, Italian, the varieties of German, Italian and French spoken in Switzerland, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese. These are also supported in the satnav app.
Support for POI search is supposed to get wider. Assistance with restaurant booking is part of Siri's new set of skills. It will find you exactly the restaurant you are looking for and filter the results based on user reviews. You can run impressively detailed searches based on food type, location, outdoor, pool, price range, ratings, etc. This feature is not available in every country, though.
One of the much-touted features is Siri's new-found flair for sports. It can answer lots of questions and isn't limited to game scores. History, stats, player bios, player comparison, teams, records, etc. Siri should be able to return most of the info right onto its own screen, without switching over to the browser.
The same applies to movies. You will get all of your movie-related answers right inside the Siri window - anything about actors, directors, awards, movie stats, premieres and tickets, reviews, trailers, etc.
The other new thing Siri can do is launch apps. Yes, it does look like one of those features that should have been there from the beginning, but better late than never, right? You can also have Siri update your Facebook and Twitter.
Apple announced they're working with various car manufacturers - BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda and others - to integrate Siri tightly with the car's audio systems.
The Facebook integration comes a year too late
When the iOS 5 was about to launch many people were hoping for Facebook integration. Instead Apple gave us Twitter.
A year later, Facebook is tightly integrated with the iOS. It even goes deeper than Twitter did in iOS 5.
We already pointed out that Siri can do your status updates for you. There are dedicated shortcuts for Facebook and Twitter updates in the Notification center as well.
This is just the beginning though. Just like in Android you can sync your Facebook contacts with the phonebook. If you do, the system will search email and phone numbers, so it can link your contacts with their Facebook profiles.
Upon a successful Facebook link, the contact's picture, addresses, important dates, emails, phone numbers and websites will be updated. You will also get a new Facebook field with a shortcut to the contact's Facebook profile. It will load in the Safari browser, not the dedicated Facebook app.
Unfortunately, the Facebook albums and feeds do not appear in the phonebook. All Facebook events will appear in the Calendar though.
You can share photos on Facebook right inside the Photo app. Addresses can be shared as well upon a drop of a pin in Maps.
Facebook integration extends to the App Store and the iTunes Store. Whenever you tap on an app, song, movie, TV show, etc. you'll get into the new store UI where there are three tabs - info, reviews and related. In review you can Like the app/song/â€¦/movie on Facebook and write or read Facebook reviews.
New Maps app parts ways with Google
Apple has finally done it. TomTom replaces Google as its main supplier of maps and the entire Maps app has been redesigned.
An assortment of sat-nav apps has long been available in the app store (for a fee), with no other than TomTom having a prominent place on the list. They now supply the maps for Apple's own service, which comes with turn-by-turn voice guidance, real-time traffic updates, local search, Yelp reviews and the impressive Flyover 3D views.
The navigation will work even on the lockscreen or in the background. Real-time traffic reports are available and Apple is also sourcing the live traffic info anonymously from iOS users on the road. Sadly, there isn't an option to pre-cache maps for offline use, which can be a problem if you need guidance abroad.
The 3D Flyover mode is a great bonus for your viewing pleasure. When you enable the 3D view (outside navigation) you will be able to explore cityscapes from birds-eye view. The currently available selection is extremely limited, but hopefully more areas will be added later on. You can zoom, tilt and rotate using two-finger gestures to explore 3D landmarks rendered in real time.
However, the map coverage seems to be a weak points of the new maps app. Users and early access developers have repeatedly expressed their discontent with the new Maps - addresses turn out either wrong or unavailable, there's a lack of transit information, POIs are all messed up, and there is no Street View, etc. Apple's move to replace Google as their maps provider is a surly bold and it's clear Apple has a lot more work to do in this department.
Currently there are apps, which Apple has allowed to integrate with maps, which provide transit information. They are city-dependent and not available everywhere. Furthermore those apps aren't really integrated into Maps - when you choose an app to help you with public transit you're taken away from Maps and into the new app, which isn't ideal.
And users need to understand that Apple and Google's relationship has been going downhill for some time now. Google Maps on iOS was severely lacking behind the competing Android application, where features such as vector graphics, turn-by-turn navigation and offline caching have long been available.