iOS 6.1 released

Another update to iOS has been released, bringing the latest version to 6.1. In stark contrast to the previous 6.0.2 release, users are claiming that 6.1 offers ‘insane battery life’ although you’d be hard pressed to notice any other differences. In fact the biggest cosmetic change is perhaps that the music controls on the lock screen are now more consistent with the Music app.

61 lock controlsAside from that, there’s very few changes. However, as the release has already received glowing praise, it’s worth updating as soon as possible. The release is available for all devices which can run iOS 6, including the veteran iPhone 3GS.

iOS 6.0.2 released

Apple have released a small update to iOS targeting the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, which aims to fix wifi issues experienced on those new devices. I’ve found that very often, the iPhone will display the wireless icon yet when attempting to access any data nothing is received.  This problem is sporadic and completely random, but it is noticeable. However, many users have reported excessive battery drain, so I think I’ll wait for the next release for the time being.

iOS 6 is scalable to taller displays

In a discovery which almost guarantees a larger display on the iPhone, 9to5 Mac have found that when the iOS Simulator is tweaked to run at a resolution of 640 x 1136, iOS 6 displays five complete rows of icons, while iOS 5.1 displays only four.

As previously mentioned, apps are already expected to be slightly flexible vertically (most applications have scroll bars) and so increasing the resolution in one direction only is a very viable solution. From this evidence, I fully expect to see a taller display on the next generation device.

New Do Not Disturb iOS 6 feature

When the new Do Not Disturb feature was announced at WWDC last month, there were rather understandably exclamations of excitement from the conference hall.

Anyone who’s been disturbed by an unimportant text or call would be able to sympathise with those keynote attendees. The new Do Not Disturb feature will at last allow users to define a period where they’re more than likely to be asleep, perhaps between 11pm and 7am, and when it’s during these times, the screen won’t light up (it can be intrusively bright in a dark room) and there’ll be no sound or vibration alert.

Of course, there are always times when there are emergencies and Apple has thought of those too. If the same number calls again within three minutes, the phone can alert the user as usual. The same applies for a predefined ‘Favourites’ list of the most important contacts on the phone.

Do Not Disturb looks to be one of the best new features in iOS 6 and I’ll certainly be defining a ‘Quiet Hours’ period as soon as the new software is installed.

iOS 6 iMessage improvements

Since the introduction of iMessage in iOS 5 there has been a glaring omission in the service, which I remarked upon earlier this year. Currently the Messages app on the iPad won’t allow users to add their mobile number to outgoing or inbound messages, which means anyone who also owns an iPhone can’t always keep messages in sync between the two devices.

With iOS 6, however, Apple is introducing the functionality to link a user’s phone number to their Apple ID:

This is a hugely welcome feature as it allows users to keep messages within one thread, despite the device they may be using to send the message from. For example, during the day, users may prefer to use their iPhone, and at home in the evening, they’ll be able to seamlessly transfer to their iPad, without breaking the stream.

I’ll be covering other iOS 6 improvements in other posts.

Apple WWDC keynote announcements

Today’s keynote presentation at the WWDC in San Francisco has brought a huge number of announcements, addressing both Apple’s hardware and software range.

As expected, iOS 6 was launched at the event, with several new innovations.

Apple has a whole new Maps app, with a new 3D flyover feature for large cities – providing far greater detail than a satellite image. The new Maps app also supports ‘turn by turn’ navigation, as seen on traditional satellite navigation devices. Whether Google Maps will be downloadable from the App Store will be very interesting to see.

FaceTime will now be permitted over mobile networks – video calling is something that 3G networks were originally marketed for, before the explosion of the mobile web.

Siri has been greatly expanded in iOS 6, and is now being introduced to the new iPad for the first time. It’s now possible to tweet and post Facebook updates and launch applications directly with the tool.

Shared Photo Streams allow users to share photos easily from the Photos app. If the other user is using iCloud, they are delivered automatically.

A new Passbook app allows barcodes and coupons to be stored safely in one place, rather than having to locate them amongst several hundred emails at the ticket barrier, or having to print them out unnecessarily. This could be really useful for theme parks such as Thorpe Park, which uses a bar code system to grant access to the attraction. The app uses geolocation to determine when the user is close, and can pop up a notification on the home screen.

The Phone app, which has been almost untouched since the first release of the iPhone, is now being updated in iOS 6. There’s a new ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature, allowing users to schedule a ‘Quiet Hours’ period where all notifications are suppressed. Anyone who has been woken by a call or text in the middle of the night (almost everyone) will welcome this feature. It’s possible to define a ‘Favourites’ list who are allowed to call during this period.

Support for the original iPad has been dropped with this release, although the older 3GS will be offered the upgrade. This is because Apple is still selling the 3GS in its stores, while the first iPad has been discontinued. iOS 6 will be released this autumn, almost certainly around the time of a new iPhone.

On the hardware side, the MacBook Air is being updated with faster Intel processors and a new 512GB solid state drive option. It’ll now come with USB3 ports, in addition to Thunderbolt.

There’s an all-new MacBook Pro with a 15″ 2880×1800 Retina class display, while the current generation has been granted faster processors and graphics. Interestingly, there’s no optical drive in the new version. It appears Apple isn’t interested in supporting Blu ray on the Mac, though that’s understandable (if not excusable) as they’d rather customers purchase HD content through iTunes instead.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion will be made available next month in the App Store for just £13.99, and free for any customers who purchase a new Mac from today. Siri’s voice recognition feature will be included, though it won’t be able to process any requests such as creating calendar events. The other features, such as Notification Center have already previously been announced.

It’s interesting to take a step back and examine just how wide Apple’s portfolio is now. We’re in for a great year of new releases – now we’re just waiting on solid news of the new iPhone.

Apple WWDC keynote preview

The annual Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference kicks off today with a keynote by Tim Cook at 6pm UK time.

There’s plenty of rumours surrounding the event, but it seems almost certain that Apple will be announcing a new version of iOS at the event. A few days ago, workmen were seen hanging an iOS 6 banner at the conference in San Francisco:

Other rumours include the removal of Google Maps in favour of Apple’s own solution, Siri to appear on the third generation iPad, and perhaps even a new Macbook with a Retina display.

It looks likely to be feature packed event – come back later for a round up of all the announcements.

iOS 5.0.1 released

Apple have today released an update to iOS 5 which should resolve some of the battery issues which some iPhone 4S users have been reporting. It also adds multitasking gestures for the original iPad, which were inexplicably left out of the initial iOS 5 release.

The new update is a test of Apple’s new ‘over the air’ delta updating. In simple terms, this means that only the files which have changed since iOS 5 need to be downloaded and updated, rather than the whole ~650MB package as before. This in turn will mean Apple’s servers won’t be so busy, minimising bandwidth problems we’ve seen on almost all previous updates on launch day. Note, though, that if you choose to install via iTunes, you’ll still need to download the whole package.