Apple today showed off iOS 6, the feature-laden successor to its current iOS 5 software for iPhones and iPads. It will bring 200 new features to the iPhone and iPad, the company said, including Facebook integration, Apple's own 3D maps, and improvements to its voice-activated Siri virtual assistant.
"iOS 6 is a phenomenal release," said Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president for iOS software. The new system should be shipped to consumers this fall; an early so-called Beta version will be available to software developers today, Forstall announced to a packed house at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.
Among other enhancements, Siri will, for the first time, be included in the iPad, said Forstall. And users will be able to move seamlessly between one device and another. If you make a call on your iPhone, you can continue it on your iPad. If you open a web page on your iPad, a tab will automatically appear on the screen of your iPhone.
Forstall showed Siri's improved ability to give turn-by-turn directions if one is driving, make restaurant reservations and show schedule and gate changes in real time if your plane is delayed.
The navigation system will be activated by an "eyes-free" button in some new car models; Apple said it is working with BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda and other automakers.
Apple said it has partnered with such online services as OpenTable for reservations, RottenTomatoes for movie reviews and times, and several gaming companies. Forstall
The new operating system is designed as something of a threat to Google, with its comprehensive map software. Apple said it will now have its own, including flyover views of major cities to help give you a sense of where you are.
"In iOS 6 we have built an entire new maps system from the ground up," said Forstall.
Facebook will be a central part of the new system, said Apple. Log on and almost anything you're doing on your iPad or iPhone can be shared instantly with friends.
And phone calls will be easier. There is a new "Do Not Disturb" feature, plus other ways to send quick messages if someone calls while you're busy but don't want to ignore them. Apple said iOS 6 will remind you to get back to those people later.
"Only Apple can make such amazing hardware, software, and services," Apple CEO Tim Cook said on stage at the conference. "These products can change the world."
The company, however, made no mention of a new iPhone, what has been rumored to be called the iPhone 5. Talk has been swirling about the new phone for months and the new device is expected to have a larger screen, a different dock connector, and a new design.
The WWDC developers' meeting has over 3,000 attendees this week. The attendees are Apple developers, or those who create software for Apple's iOS and Mac OS X operating systems.
Wall Street had apparently been hoping for more from today's announcements. Apple stock, which had been up in the morning, lost 1.58 percent of its value by the time the market closed.