Apple has announced iOS 6, which brings over 200 new features to its popular mobile operating system, including Apple Maps and Facebook integration.

Apple has announced iOS 6, which brings over 200 new features to its popular mobile operating system, including Apple Maps and Facebook integration.

 
The software update will launch on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and will include an Apple-designed map app, helping Apple remove its reliance on Google Maps, improvements to Siri, and a ticket app called Passbook.
 
“iOS 6 continues the rapid pace of innovation that is helping Apple reinvent the phone and create the iPad category, delivering the best mobile experience available on any device,” said Scott Forstall, SVP of iOS Software at Apple. “We can’t wait for hundreds of millions of iOS users to experience the incredible new features in iOS 6 including the new Maps app, expanded Siri support, deep Facebook integration, Shared Photo Streams and the innovative new Passbook app.”
 
Apple's Maps app is the pivotal feature of the new release, featuring vector-based map elements that make graphics and texts smooth and zooming, panning, and tilting fluid. Turn-by-turn navigation, with spoken directions, Flyover for interactive 3D views, real-time traffic information, and local search makes this a viable alternative to Google Maps.
 
 
Facebook integration is the other big feature of iOS 6 and something that has made it into OS X Mountain Lion also. Users will be able to see notifications in the Notification Centre, update their status from there, view their friends in the Contacts section, schedule events and birthdays using the Calendar, Like content from the App Store and iTunes, and share content easily.
 
Siri, the big feature of the iPhone 4S, is also getting a facelift, adding new language support and some additional functionality, like asking Siri to update Facebook or Twitter, launch an app, or use Eyes Free mode to interact with the iPhone with just the user's voice.
 
Passbook is an interesting new app that lets users buy and compile all their tickets and passes in one place. Users can scan coupons, check into a hotel, or store their concert tickets. A neat feature is that it will automatically display passes based on the user's location, so, for example, a users who enters a coffee shop will instantly have access to their loyalty card. The app will also alert users of last minute gate changes and flight delays at the airport.
 
iOS 6 also features Guided Access, which lets users lock the device into a single app, improvements to the Safari browser, support for FaceTime calls over mobile networks, VIP Mailbox functionality, a Do Not Disturb option for calls, and improvements for Apple's growing Chinese audience.
 
The beta version and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members. The update will release for free in Autumn, most likely accompanying a new iPhone device.