New Apple mobile software gets maps, Siri updates

(AP)

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:

— Maps.

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.

— Siri.

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.

(Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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