At yesterday’s keynote presentation during the World Wide Developers Conference, Apple announced the impending arrival of iOS6. The evolution of Apple’s mobile operating system includes numerous features that cater to the real needs of real users.
Some examples to illustrate this idea:
The phone can go into “do not disturb” mode, which only allows calls from relatives or those determined to be urgent (based on the repetition of the attempted incoming call). The same application also offers several possible actions on the fly: answer, reply with a message, or remind me when I leave (geo-fencing technology comes into play for this feature to work).
Passbook, a new application, will require developers to standardize loyalty cards, tickets and boarding passes, and store them in a single application. When a user arrives at the airport, their boarding pass will “naturally” appear on their phone. This is probably a good opportunity to develop location-based voucher systems.
It is easier for children to use, with the possibility of ‘blocking’ the iOS device from running more than one application at a time. Features have also been developed for users with vision, hearing, learning or mobility disabilities.
Apple’s new Maps application will replace Google Maps and includes features such as turn-by-turn GPS navigation, 3D interfaces, and compatibility with Siri (Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant). For improved on-the-go functionality, the new Maps application also optimizes multitouch technology to manipulate the 3D map in any direction. This smart application is also able to aggregate mobility data to indicate alternative routes when traffic is heavy.
Integration with the native Facebook API means users can enjoy the features and contents of the latter directly in applications. For example, you can automate the synchronization of calendar events with Facebook or have Siri update your status.
This list of examples, although not exhaustive, shows that once again Apple has chosen to emphasize usability rather than technological prowess. Some will note, and rightly so, the lack of information surrounding how these new apps will collect user data. It’s a controversial topic: how far are we willing to share our personal data (contacts, location, movements, social interaction) if it is for a ‘good cause’? In this case, good cause is not to be disturbed unnecessarily during meetings while keeping peace of mind in emergencies, avoiding traffic jams and never having to worry about where your boarding pass is. Apple is smart to introduce these much-needed features, which will increasingly rely on their relevance to high penetration of the operating system. The use value is such that we do not hesitate to share our personal data.
Should we be worried? Who should regulate the use of this data?
Using stores and restaurants to find our way around town is nothing new. From giving directions to orientating ourselves, these branded landmarks are often the most easily identifiable things around us. A new start-up, CityMaps, has gained a fair share of attention for using business names and logos to map out cities*.
A quick glance at the site and you realize how powerful branding can be. Being able to know the answer to “what’s around here” with a quick look at a map can be a huge timesaver – both at home and when travelling. I’ve never been to San Francisco, but I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have trouble finding my way to the corner of Tumi and Longchamp. However, if you told me to show up where Maiden Lane and Grant Avenue meet (it’s the same spot!), well let’s just say I’d be firing up Google Maps.
*CityMaps is currently only available for San Francisco, Austin, and New York City, however 25 to 30 cities around the world will be added by the end of the year.