While there was no doubt that Apple was going to release iOS6 at this year's WWDC, we were happy to see some expected releases as well as some unexpected surprises.
At today's WWDC announcement, Apple [NASDAQ:AAPL] announced some major hardware improvements revolving Intel's Ivy Bridge line of processors, which we've deemed very mobile friendly, as well as a slew of software improvements to both their desktop and mobile lines of products. While we weren't at all impressed with the improvements brought by Mountain Lion, we were certainly impressed by the level of software innovation and recognition of certain necessary features that had been missing.
Apple's iOS 6 announcement was without a doubt their most important announcement of the day and one that is likely to once again change the shape of the mobile space. With iOS 6, Apple is introducing 10 new improvements and features that really put Apple out in front.
The first and foremost improvement is that Apple has really gone for Google' jugular and created their own maps application that no longer utilizes Google Maps. By removing millions of iPhones from Google Maps, Apple will not only make life more difficult for Google, but also improve the revenue they can generate from iPhones using maps.
Apple's Maps feature really delivers a whole new way of looking at maps with a combination of TomTom imagry combined with C3 Technologies' 3D maps of dozens if not hundreds of major world cities and the addition of turn by turn navigation. Turn by turn navigation was actually a feature that the iPhone lacked in the past due to the fact that Google did not wish to provide iPhone users with turn by turn and kept it for Android devices only. Below, we've got a video that has a nice demonstration of what maps look like in 3D with C3 Technologies' 3D models which is now owned by Apple.
Additionally, they've also increase the scope of Siri to be capable of helping you buy movie tickets, find out sports scores, and to do it in many more languages beyond just English. Some languages include Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, and Canadian (???). In addition to improved Siri integration, Apple has also notched up their Facebook integration with full Facebook integration across the entire OS.
To us, though, the most interesting two features after Maps are Passbook and the upgrades to FaceTime. Passbook essentially allows you to use your iPhone as a digital wallet to store all of your giftcards and tickets to various events. This means you could keep your boarding pass, train ticket, and hotel reservation all saved on your phone inside of Passbook. This gives users a very simple and easy place to keep all of their important travel documents. Furthermore, this allows people to save certain things like Starbucks cards and movie tickets in their phones so that they only have to take their phone out to confirm that they've already made the transaction. Plus, because it is both time and location based, the application can update the boarding passes or train tickets in your Passbook with up-to-date information, such as if the gate or platform changes on your way to the station/gate. We believe that this is just another way that Apple will bring users closer to embracing NFC technologies and paying for everything with their phones. They've also made numerous improvements to email, web browsing and accessibility.
Finally, we've been waiting for this for quite some time, Apple has decided that with iOS 6 they will enable FaceTime over cellular data. This move is long over do when you consider that most Android and Symbian devices have been video chatting over 3G and 4G for years. Admittedly, part of the reason for the Wi-Fi requirement had to do with the fact that Apple wanted a good experience and Wi-Fi was the only way to accomplish that in the past. With the advent of the iPad 3 and LTE as well as this update to FaceTime, there is no doubt in our minds that the iPhone 5 will be an LTE device. As such, you can expect to see an iPhone with iOS 6 and LTE somewhere in the September/October timeframe as we've been speculating since before the iPhone 4S was announced.
With all of that said, Wall Street doesn't seem at all interested in Apple's developments during WWDC and you could actually watch AAPL drop as WWDC went on. Today, Apple lost about $9.15 or 1.58% in trading and is also down in after hours trading.