Apple iOS 6 Shakes Up Mobile Communications
That's because a number of the new features include revitalizations of the communications experience. Apple Senior VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall announced the updates Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference keynote.
iOS 6 includes more than 200 new features, and some the most advanced ones center on interaction. Forstall confirmed Apple's rumored partnership with Facebook , which will let users post to Facebook from any of the phone's apps, integrate their contacts' birthdays into the calendar and "like" apps in the App Store. The integration also includes Apple's virtual assistant Siri, so you can speak your updates, now in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and many more languages.
If speaking's not your thing, iOS 6 lets you automatically reply to incoming calls with a text message or set up a reminder to reply to that person later. If you're particularly busy, you can activate iOS 6's "do not disturb" feature that mutes all incoming calls and dims text messages during specified times, alerting the caller that you're busy.
Apple will also let users set up a list for people whose calls need to get through even during that do-not-disturb time. Or, a different rule can let a call go through if the person calls more than twice in under three minutes. Likewise in iOS's Mail, you can select VIPs and be alerted when they send you an email.
Interestingly, LR Mobile has seen similar functionality in development in AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Innovation Lab, but Apple beat its partner to the punch. (See AT&T Defends Carrier Incubators and From AT&T Labs: A New(er) Network Vision.)
FaceTime: Coming soon to 3G
Perhaps most notable -- and potentially most worrisome to the wireless operators -- is that iOS 6 will let users make FaceTime video calls over the cellular network and answer them on their iPhone, iPad or Mac via a unified number. The service will work via the iPhone on carriers' 3G networks or over Long Term Evolution (LTE) on the iPad 2.
Apple has said in the past that it was waiting for operators' networks to be reliable enough to enable cellular video chat. Two-way video chat adds extra strain to the network that operators have yet to really have to cope with. With new tiered data plans, moreover, using the service over 3G might not be that appealing. (See How Will Apple Support LTE Voice Services? and Apple's iCloud Lets Wi-Fi Take the Strain.)
A beta version of iOS 6 is available to developers today, and the OS will be available to consumers this fall, presumably around the time the iPhone 5 is launched. (See Apple Seeks 4G Talent.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile