iOS 6 has plenty of intriguing content features
Apple made quite a few content-related announcements this week at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. As I wrote in my Editor's Corner this week, it's always about content, and Apple, with its highly mobile devices, lets us access and share content wherever we go, with or without a keyboard.
Let's look at some of the interesting new features:
This new feature allows you to log onto Facebook and share at will from iOS 6 (due out later this year) at the operating system level. This means, for example, you can take a picture and share it directly from your photos, instead of explicitly opening your Facebook app. You can also share across the operating system, so you could also share your game scores from Game Center or your location from Maps, as just a couple of examples.
Facebook even shares with iOS, putting birthday announcements, for instance, into your Apple calendar (not sure what this means if you use--dare I say it?--Google Calendar).
All of this sounds dandy until, as Larry Dignan points on out on CNET, you overshare something embarrassing because it's so darn easy. It's also worth noting that this is a double-edged sword for more reasons than possibly over-sharing. You are sharing the entire contents of your iPhone at the operating system level with Facebook. I would think twice before using this feature, but my guess is that for many the lure of ease of use will outweigh the concerns about giving Facebook all of your iPhone data.
Another big announcement at WWDC was that Apple was replacing Google Maps with its own mapping program. Google Maps has been one of the most popular apps on iOS devices, and apparently Apple wanted to own this valuable feature instead of ceding it to Google.
According to an article by Ian Paul on PCWorld, Apple was unhappy that Google was giving its own Android users more advanced features than it was supplying for Apple and iOS, Google's competitor. Rather than waiting for table scraps, Apple decided to go its own way and develop its own system.
Whether users will agree to the change remains to be seen, but my guess is that many users will use whatever maps program is available. Still others might continue to use Google Maps, even if they have to open the browser to do it.
Passbook is an intriguing new feature that allows you store elements like airline, train and movie tickets in a secure digital wallet (of sorts). You can also store things like gift cards, so you don't have to carry the physical card with you. Many think this is the beginning of Apple's foray into the digital payment space. Google currently offers Google Wallet for this purpose, which uses Near Field Communication (NFC) to pay for your purchases instantly, once you wave your smartphone at a special reader.
And according to a post on the Bits blog from The New York Times, Passbook will even be smart enough to recognize that when you're in an airport, you want your boarding pass, but when you're in the coffee shop, you want your gift card. Such is the power of geo-location technology.
Of course, much like the Facebook app, it's ceding a great deal of information about your life to Apple in terms of where you travel, where you like to shop, the movies you like to see, and so forth. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with this arrangement, no matter how convenient it might be, but the lure of convenience is going to be very difficult to ignore for busy travelers. There are independent apps that offer similar functionality, but the beauty of this approach is that it's built in at the operating system level, giving you the information you need when you need it (assuming it's smart enough to really know and not just annoyingly off kilter).