Like you, we can’t wait to get our hands on the iPhone 5 come September 21. While we saw a preview of iOS 6 in June during the WWDC, we now have a clearer idea of how the new operating system will impact apps on the new device.
Here is what app lovers need to know about iOS 6 and the iPhone 5.
Older apps will function properly on the new device
The biggest change in the iPhone 5 – at least from an app perspective – is the larger 4-inch screen and new aspect ratio of 16:9, which is in sync with high-definition televisions and video. While a first generation of apps – including the iWork suite, iMovie and GarageBand – will be optimized to take advantage of the additional screen real estate, older apps that have not yet updated will still be fully operational. A letterbox feature will make older apps appear to be fully compatible with the new device and operating system.
Expect a slew of apps in the coming days – before the release of iOS 6 on September 19 and the iPhone 5 on September 21 – to announce full compatibility with the new device and form factor. App developers will now have to create titles for three different form factors: legacy iPhones and iPod Touch devices, the iPad and the iPhone 5. This is at least until older models are flushed through the system. Conversely, an iPad Mini – which could debut as early as next month – will bring an additional form factor into the mix.
Added costs for developers = big wins for the rest of us.
Siri spreads her wings
The Siri voice-enabled personal assistant, which was the key new feature of the iPhone 4S, is playing an important supporting role for the new device and operating system. You will now be able to do things like post status updates on Facebook – which has become BFF of Apple in recent months – simply by speaking into Siri. Other independent apps including OpenTable and Rotten Tomatoes now have more sophisticated integration with the tool. OpenTable users, for instance, can ask Siri where there are reservation openings near them at any point in time.
Time to search for YouTube
For the first time since its debut in 2007, the iPhone will not come preinstalled with YouTube. This, combined with Apple swapping out Google Maps with its own maps application, underscores the corporate cold war between the two tech behemoths. While consumers will need to go through the extra step of downloading the YouTube iOS app from the App Store, the product itself is superior than the preinstalled version which was managed by Apple. Now fully controlled by Google, the new YouTube app offers superior sharing and video curation capabilities.
Passbook negates the need for NFC Technology - for now
It is no surprise that the iPhone 5 will lack Near Field Communication technologies that enable – among other things – seamless mobile transactions. While several Android smartphones use NFC to enable Google Wallet, Apple is famously cautious to implement emerging technologies until they are fully baked and bug free. The new Passbook app, which is scheduled to launch on September 19 along with iOS 6, is a fine interim solution. The app will be a mobile manager of things like boarding passes, loyalty cards and coupons. Expect moderate but meaningful transaction activities to be enabled through the application.
Still a winning device for gamers
As demonstrated by EA with the tease of Real Racing 3, the iPhone 5 like its predecessors is the superior device for smartphone gaming. Enhancements detailed in today’s launch seem more incremental (faster processing and connection speeds) than revolutionary, but Apple has a far enough lead here where it didn’t have to do much to continue to serve as King of the Hill.
Stay tuned for continued coverage and analysis of the iPhone 5, iOS 6 and, of course, the best apps to run on the new device.