<VIDEO> SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Most of Apple's mobile devices will get a new operating system this fall, including a different mapping service and a built-in bond with Facebook.
The company says its iOS 6 software will sport more than 200 new features, though some won't be available on all devices. It will be a free upgrade for iPhones released since 2009, as well as last year's and this year's iPad models. It will also work with newer iPod Touch devices.
Without providing a specific date, Apple said the updated software will be released this fall. Apple typically upgrades its mobile software around the same time it starts selling a new iPhone. Last year, it happened in October to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. A preview version of the new iOS was made available to application developers starting Monday.
Here are some highlights of iOS 6:
Apple's mobile devices will have a mapping program, built in-house.
In the past, Apple has given prominent billing to Google Inc.'s mapping app. But the two companies have increasingly become rivals as people buy more devices running Google's Android operating system. Google also has been keeping some features, including turn-by-turn directions spoken aloud, exclusive to Android.
Apple's new Maps application will have a voice navigation feature. It will have real-time traffic data and offer alternative routes as traffic conditions change.
It will also include "flyover" three-dimensional images taken by helicopters hired by the company to fly over major cities. Google said last week that it has been dispatching its own planes to produce similar 3D images that will soon be available on its mapping service.
Apple's map program will be integrated with its Siri virtual assistant so that you can ask for directions and pose other questions.
The new software promises better integration with Facebook. The idea is you enter your password just once, and you can post to Facebook from a variety of apps. You can also post about websites directly from Apple's Safari browser.
Facebook will be integrated with Apple's online app store so that you can declare that you "like" specific apps there, as well as songs and movies in iTunes.
Events in Facebook's calendar and birthdays of Facebook friends will also appear on your phone's calendar.
IOS 6 will have enhancements to Siri, which interprets voice commands and talks back to the user. It is also coming to the iPad for the first time.
Since Siri was introduced in October with the iPhone 4S, Siri has been "studying up and learning a lot more," says Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president for iPhone software. Siri's sharpened intellect will be especially apparent when the voice assistant is fielding questions about movies, restaurants and other things, according to Forstall.
He demonstrated that by having Siri tell whether LeBron James or Kobe Bryant is the taller basketball player. Siri replies, "LeBron James appears to be slightly taller" as the cards of both players are displayed on an iPhone screen.
Apple says it is partnering with Yelp Inc. so that Siri can include ratings and prices of restaurants when you ask her about places to eat. The company is also partnering with OpenTable Inc. to make reservations.
Siri will now be available in more languages and more countries.
Apple also says it's working with car manufacturers to let you use a button on the steering wheel to talk to Siri, allowing you to keep your hands on the road. Apple says General Motors Co., BMW AG and Daimler AG's Mercedes are among the automakers that have promised to offer Siri integration in the next 12 months.
Don't want to be disturbed?
Apple's new software will give you more options for preventing messages and text notifications from disturbing you at night, for instance.
You can control how and when you get back to people. If you can't call someone back right away, you can set a reminder to call that person back later or have a text message sent directly to the caller.
There's a "call when you leave" feature that reminds you to call back when you are leaving a building or office. The phone can detect when you are leaving.
Apple's new Passbook feature will be a central place to keep your boarding passes, tickets and gift cards.
When you get to a Starbucks, for instance, the device will bring up your gift card if you have one and if you have the location feature turned on. Likewise, when you get to a movie theater or baseball stadium, the ticket will pop up. Passbook will also alert you to gate changes and flight delays once you have a boarding pass stored.
Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin suspects Passbook will be the foundation for a digital commerce hub that Apple is trying to implant on its mobile devices starting with the next iPhone. "This looks like a harbinger of a digital wallet that could handle a variety of transactions," Golvin said.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Next month, Apple will release its new operating system for Mac computers.
Dubbed Mountain Lion, Mac OS X 10.8 will cost $19.99 - $10 cheaper than what the current system, Lion, costs. Those buying Mac computers starting on Monday will get the upgrade for free when it's available.
Apple Inc. already demonstrated many of the Mountain Lion features in February. The new software narrows the gap between the PC and phone software packages, making Mac personal computers work more like iPhones.
It's similar to what Microsoft Corp. is doing with its forthcoming Windows 8 system. That system, expected this fall, will bring the look and user interface of Windows Phone to PCs.
Among the features of Mountain Lion:
- The new software will have better integration with social networks such as Facebook Inc.'s. It will have built-in features to facilitate sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other services. For instance, you'll get notifications when you get a message or a mention in a Facebook or Twitter post. You need to sign in only once, and you can share directly from other apps you are using.
- Power Nap keeps your Mac updated even while it's in power-saving "sleep" mode. It will get your email messages, back up your files and download software updates automatically. It will work with recent MacBook Air computers and the higher-end MacBook Pro model, the one with the sharper, "Retina" display.
- A new Messages app, copied from Apple's mobile operating system, will replace iChat. It will allow you to send messages to other Apple users, whether that person is on a Mac or an Apple mobile device.
- Mountain Lion will be integrated with iCloud, the new Internet storage service designed for the mobile devices.
- The software will bring dictation to Macs, essentially allowing the computer to type as you talk.
- Game Center will store high game scores and help users find opponents on both Macs and Apple mobile devices.
Apple said the Facebook integration features won't be available right away. The company did not say exactly when in July the Mountain Lion software will be available, nor did it say when the Facebook features will be ready.
Upgrades will be available as a download through Apple's Mac App Store. Those upgrading must already have either the Lion or Snow Leopard operating systems on their Macs.