The iPhone 5 was launched after much anticipation last week and was swiftly met with apathy from many soon afterwards. For those not wanting to shell out on a new handset, fear not as iOS 6 launches tomorrow, bringing some drastic changes to the iPhone.
Top Features in iOS 6
Unification of phone number and Apple ID
iMessage was a marquee feature with iOS 5, allowing you to IM for free between iOS devices. Unfortunately this feature was a huge let down as it simply failed to work properly for everyone. iOS 6 eradicates this problem, so any message sent to your phone number or Apple ID will be received on all of your iOS devices and Mac. The same goes for FaceTime.
Google maps have been included on iOS since the launch of the original iPhone in 2007. Since then Apple and Google have become bitter enemies and have gradually distanced themselves from each other. This will be most obvious when people fire up maps on the iOS 6 device for the first time, as Apple have replaced Google Maps with their own offering after acquiring a few mapping companies in the past couple of years. Expect to see faster vector based maps, with text that reorientates based on what direction the phone is held. In addition, Flyover (a gimmicky 3D aerial view with limited use outside the U.S) and turn-by-turn navigation from a new partnership with Tom Tom.
Similar to last year's Twitter integration, Apple is adding system wide support for Facebook.
Passbook is a place to store loyalty cards, boarding passes, cinema tickets, vouchers and much more. Its Apple's attempt at the mobile wallet that completely bypasses both the need for NFC chips and retailers having to upgrade their payment systems - Passbook displays a barcode or QR code to simply be scanned instead. The system also features location based functionality, so your boarding pass will automatically be displayed on the lock screen when you arrive at the airport, saving you the hassle of having to dig it out of an app. It can also be used for offers to be pushed directly to your phone - for example if you have a Starbucks card on Passbook, you could be notified of deals when in the vicinity of a Starbucks branch.
Siri finally useful outside of the U.S.
Siri was a great addition to the iPhone 4S, although its uses were fairly limited outside of the U.S. With iOS 6 the service can now be used for local search, movie listings, sports results and much more in addition to previous functionality.
Panoramic shots are finally native in the camera app. This in itself isn't big news as there are already a whole host of apps that already offer this functionality. Apple are always late to add features that would seem obvious to include, but it is the way that they implement them that sets them apart from the rest. The UI provides a visual overlay and prompts the user to pan their camera to capture a panorama, creating an image at a massive 28 megapixels, ready to be uploaded as a Facebook Cover Photo.
Do Not Disturb
Fed up with being woken in the early hours of the morning or meetings regularly interrupted with calls, emails, texts and Facebook notifications? Those days are gone with Do Not Disturb mode. Simply toggle a switch that will disable sounds, vibration and the screen from illuminating. All your notifications will be waiting for you as soon as the switch is flipped back to 'off'. The setting can even be scheduled to run daily at specific times and includes an override so select people can still get in touch.
iOS 6 launches tomorrow (19th September) and is a free update for owners of iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 2, The New iPad, iPod Touch (4th Generation) and iPod Touch (5th Generation)