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Apple announces new iOS 6 setting

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Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo / AP
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo / AP

Apple reckons 365 million people have bought iDevices - that's devices that run the iOS operating system (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch). Also in this device space, iCloud has 125 million registered users.

The App Store currently has 400 million accounts, making it the largest and "most vibrant app ecosystem on the planet", said Apple CEO Tim Cook. People might argue with that, but it's not easy. There are over 650,000 apps in the App Store, and 225,000 made for iPad.

This keynote is already online, by the way, the 23rd - the video is complete with the Siri introduction.

Apple claims 30 billion App Store downloads since the store's launch in 2008, with third-party developers paid US$5 billion over that period. I'm bad at maths, but that seems like a lot.

The App Store is available in 120 countries around the world, and Apple added 32 more countries on June 10.

The other big news in the WWDC keynote was iOS, of course, which developers have been working with for a while. Apple is launching a new setting for iOS 6 called Do Not Disturb. Essentially, this allows you to tell your iPhone not to bother you with interruptions. Notifications will still pop up, but won't light up the screen or make sounds.

Even better, you have fine-grained access to the kind of calls you can receive when the setting is on.

It's also safe. For example, repeated calls go through: if someone calls multiple times in a short period of time because it's an emergency, the call gets put through - I imagine those annoying people in your life will be quick to figure this out, though.

Other enhancements have been added to the iOS 6 Phone app. Instead of simply having to accept or decline a call, you can now reply with an iMessage or have your iPhone remind you to call back later.

The Phone app can remind you in an hour to call back, or use 'geofencing' - in other words, it can remind you when you leave a certain area.

iOS 6 is getting Facebook integration, just as iOS 5 got Twitter integration. You'll be able to post photos from Photos, locations from Maps and it's integrated with Notification Center. Anywhere you are you can tap to post to Facebook and Twitter. Facebook's deep integration is a public API, meaning any app developer can easily integrate Facebook into their apps.

A new 'lost mode' allows you to send a phone number to your iPhone, hoping that the person who recovered it will contact you, in addition to the current Find My iPhone service. Siri was actually used to introduce this at WWDC. iPad owners will be pleased to know the digital assistant is making its way to Apple's tablet as well. The phone integration will obviously not be there, but all Siri's other features will be, including the new ones in iOS 6.

Local search is going global, and Siri will know about sports (in the US anyway) and has learned a lot about restaurants, with integration with Yelp and OpenTable. You can ask Siri which movies are playing at your local theatre and see trailers and even see reviews, thanks to integration with RottenTomatoes. How much these features will or not be supported down here, we'll have to see.

You will be able to tweet from Siri and it will gain the ability to launch apps, which is likely to be a huge accessibility boon for those with sight problems: eyes-free smartphone usage.

Siri is getting external hardware integration in the next twelve months from BMW, GM, Jaguar, Mercedes, and Honda, and others.

Siri's also learning some new languages: French-Canadian, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Korean, and Mandarin and Cantonese for China.

As was rumoured, Apple is replacing Google Maps as the map engine in iOS 6 with its own tech, built from the ground up. The new Maps app will feature an integrated traffic service, turn-by-turn navigation, Siri integration and an enhanced 3D view called Flyover, which renders views in real time.

Apple is using anonymously-collected real-time traffic data to build a traffic service in the new Maps app that will provide incident reports to users on the go. Currently, you can get something like this in the expensive TomTom app, as a subscriber add-on.

Apple also unveiled a major new app: Passbook is a single repository for all of your passes. Plane tickets, movie tickets, store cards etc.

Passbook has QR code support. And any pass stored in it has live information displayed alongside it: for example, if you have a ticket pass, the time until departure is then shown inside of the app.

The idea is that all of these cards and passes will be accessible at local business with just a wave. Once again, how useful that will be in lil' ole New Zealand has yet to be discovered.

Apple announced the following new features in iOS: Safari has iCloud Tabs which sync your iPhone's browser with your Mac's. You can upload photos from mobile Safari to your favourite websites.

Shared Photo Streams let you choose the photos you want to share, then choose the friends you'd like to share them with.

VIP allows you to mark someone you want to be notified about in the Mail app. You can insert photos and video right from the compose window.

Guided Access allows you to disable certain buttons of apps so they're more usable for kids with autism.

With iOS 6, you'll be able to call your friends with FaceTime over cellular and unify your phone number with your Apple ID: if someone calls your phone you can answer it on your iPad or Mac. Yay!

Other additions that not mentioned at WWDC include redesigned Stores, alarm with song, email signatures, HDR improvements and, Game Center challenges.

- NZ Herald

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