The first beta of iOS 6 is available now, and I was lucky enough to register my devices and download it to my iPhone 4 and third-gen iPad. As I’m sure you know, there are over 200 new features in the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, but not all features were created equal. Sure, you’ve got the new maps and the multi-language support, but my favorite iOS 6 features are slightly different than the ones Apple chose to highlight at yesterday’s keynote. I often find that the little changes to the UI or tweaks in the way something work make as much – if not more – of a difference in my day-to-day use than the big, hyped-up features that I may or may not use very often. Here are my top 6 favorite new features in iOS 6.
1. Siri on iPad – Okay, I know I said I like the little things, but I can’t not mention Siri on the new iPad. I may be a bit late to the game, but I’m still rockin’ an iPhone 4 which means I haven’t had much one on one time with Siri until now. I must say I’m really enjoying her company. The new sports and movie information she’s learned are super cool, and so are the old things like reading and replying to messages. We’ve definitely got a deep connection.
2. Redesigned App Store – This is an improvement that wasn’t mentioned at WWDC, but it certainly shouldn’t be ignored. The App Store (as well as the iBooksstore and iTunes store) has been redesigned, and it looks great. Though, what elevated this redesign to my top 6 is the fact that updating and/or downloading applications no longer takes you to the home screen! Instead, the blue progress bar shows up right on the app icon in the App Store, and you can continue browsing while your app downloads. This is a much more logical and usable system.
3. Sharing widget – Apple still hasn’t added 3rd-party Notification Center widget support, but the company did add one more widget to sit alongside Stocks and Weather. The sharing widget consists of two buttons in the pull-down Notification Center: Tap to Tweet and Tap to Post (to Facebook). When Twitter integration was first announced last year, I always thought it was strange that it was impossible to simply send a tweet within iOS without sharing a photo or location. Now, users can tweet or post to Facebook no matter what they’re doing on their iOS device.
4. Reply with message – Thanks to this new feature, the next time I’m late to pick up my sister, I don’t have to ignore her call, unlock my phone, go into messages and send her a text. With no more than one swipe and a couple taps, I can send her a quick “I’m on my way” message and avoid getting yelled at over the phone! I never even thought to add a feature like this to iOS, but it’s a great one nonetheless.
5. Chameleon status bar – Earlier today we told you guys about Apple’s new chameleon status bar. Basically, the status bar at the top of the iPhone now changes color depending on the color of the menu bar of whatever app is open at the time. Currently it only works on a few apps, but I can already tell that it’s a great little design element. It makes everything look much smoother, and it’s that attention to detail that sets iOS apart.
6. Music player redesign – The music player on the iPhone got a total redesign, featuring an black, white, and chrome color scheme. I think it looks great and breaths new life into an app that everyone has seen a million times. But Apple didn’t just change what the player looks like. I like to listen to audiobooks while I do yard work (well, I like to listen the the Harry Potter audiobooks over and over again), and I was pleased to see that Apple has added more precise controls to help navigate the 2.5-hour long audio tracks.
So there are my top 6 favorite features in iOS 6. It’s worth noting that this is only the first beta and I’ve only had it for about a day, so new features are bound to emerge. Also, I’d like to point out that the new turn-by-turn directions probably would have made this list (my GPS just broke and I was pumped to try out this new feature), but this feature isn’t available on the iPhone 4. I guess Apple forgot to mention that…
If you also downloaded the beta of iOS 6, which features do you like the best? And if you’re still rockin’ iOS 5.1.1, which features are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments section below or on twitter!