WWDC 2012 and iOS 6: What we didn't get

Expectations were high for the iOS 6 announcement at WWDC today, and many of them were met, but there were a lot of others that didn't. Rene has blown through a ton of features on competing smartphone platforms that could find a comfortable home on iOS. Even though some of those areas will be seeing improvement in iOS 6, it might not be enough for everyone. So, what did we not get from the WWDC keynote?

Apple TV apps and SDK

How to access Photo Stream from your Apple TV menu

We didn't think Apple TV apps were likely, but still rumors were kept popping up about an Apple TV announcement at WWDC 2012. Well, not surprisingly, none of them panned out for the keynote. At best, we got some extended AirPlay for OS X.

Who knows what Apple will do in the future, but for the time being, Apple TV is going to be staying right where it is. In a tiny, locked down box.

Core interface improvement

If you've been using an iPhone since its inception, odds are some of you might be a little bored with the core user interface (Springboard) and have at least flirted with the idea of jailbreaking just for a change of scenery. Even after iOS 6 drops, odds are good that jailbreakers will still have a lot to do.

Apple has added plenty of little additions over the years, like the slide-down Notification Center, multi-touch app switching and closing, folders, and a dedicated universal search screen.

So far, there's nothing as visually pronounced as any of that in iOS 6, though it is in beta and new features are likely to be added between now and the fall.

While we did get a fresh coat of paint, with some new silvers and blues on the core Apple apps, we didn't get anything as ambitious as theme selector, that could offer users a bit more customization to keep things fresh.

Besides that, if the iPhone 5 turns out to have a 4-inch display, we'll at least get to enjoy an extra row of icons, maybe more...

Siri API

How to use Siri to establish relationships and contact your friends and family

Although Siri got a lot of love in iOS 6, including fresh outside data for movies, restaurants, and sports, as well as some promised in-car integration, Apple isn't throwing open the doors to third party developers just yet.

The closest we got is the ability for Siri to open applications that you have installed on your iOS device, which is certainly a step in the right direction.

Of course, there's a ton of potential for developers that have access to a native, reliable voice recognition system, but in the end, Siri is still in beta and will stay there for the foreseeable future.

Notification Center API

Notification Center creaked open a little bit to accommodate a new Facebook button and a new Do Not Disturb toggle, but it is still very much a walled garden in that developers can't get much more than little bullet point pop-ups in there.

The real fun will start when developers can make full-width static, custom, interactive units for Notification Center like the current options for weather and stocks. Even some more interactive pop-ups that would allow you to take quick actions without having to switch apps would be really nice, but for the time being, all of that rests squarely in the realm of wishful thinking and jailbreak hackery.

Better file management

iOS 6 wants: Files app and documents picker with iCloud

It sure would be nice to be able to flip through your iPhone's file system sometimes, but it's still something Apple is keeping out of reach for everyday users without the help of a third-party app (and even then, they're limited).

Now we can drop pictures into e-mails a little more easily, but you can't do the same thing for documents for whatever reason. Apple's iron grip on file access severely limits functionality for tech-savvy users, and until iOS relaxes a bit, those users will drift towards Android.

Quick replies and toggles

iOS 6: The opposite of widgets

Needless to say, SBSettings style quick Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other toggles were nowhere to be found, nor were BiteSMS style in-app quick responders. We'd hoped for both, but now we can hope again for iOS 7...

App Store improvements

Best free iPhone games

The App Store app did get a visual refresh and Facebook integration may aid in discoverability for people who use Facebook (which not everyone does), but missing was any sign of Apple's recent Chomp purchase, and better search overall.

At the end of the day, we'll get the apps that make developers money. If the only way for developers to make money are shallow $0.99 niche apps, or super-addictive, annoying, video-lottery style freemium games, that's what we'll get.

Apple owns the platform. Sure, it's a multi-billion dollar balancing act, but they're the ones in charge of the balance. They can tweak the mechanics so developers have better opportunities for premium apps and games, and are incentivized to make them.

Conclusion

Personally, I'm happy with the improvements in iOS 6. Even though none of them individually really stick out as game-changers, and in fact a lot of them felt like they were just catching up to the competition (adding photos from e-mail compose window, turn-by-turn directions, Facebook integration), combined they're filling vital function gaps. iOS 6 is not only pushing signature features to new heights (huge improvements in Siri, iMessage in OS X, Facetime over cellular), but also introducing some new ones (Passbook, Guided Access).

It's safe to say that the new Mac hardware really stole the show WWDC, but I have a good feeling that the announcement of the iPhone 5 this fall will springboard nicely off the iOS 6 stuff announced today.

What would you have liked to have seen from iOS 6? On the whole, are you happy with all of the new additions, or is there a missing feature that could be a dealbreaker for you when it comes to picking up an iPhone 5 down the road?

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

WWDC 2012 and iOS 6: What we didn't get

54 Comments

Huge improvements in Siri? There were zero improvements on-device. You would have laughed had Google held a press event to point out that you can ask Google what movies are playing at the Metreon (which you can, and have been able to do so for years), yet somehow it is "huge" when Apple does so.

Siri can be used for turn by turn directions, as well.
But it's not like, to follow your example, Apple had this event just for a "Metreon" announcement.

If you don't lose the ability to hide behind "beta" when you make Siri the centerpiece of your sustained marketing plan, you certainly lose the ability when you make it a centerpiece of not one, but two annual major-release software events.

It's a complete joke. They did nothing that should give them any hype. A complete disappointment. This was an incremental update and not a full update. Fail.

-I'd argue that the Maps 'upgrade' went BACKWARDS. How do you leave out public transportation, bike, walking/pedestrian information and directions? Apple is basically telling all their city users "use an Android smartphone! Don't use iPhones because we were stupid enough and arrogant enough to think we could do away with Google Maps!"
-And no, passing the buck to 3rd party developers, hoping they can give us public transit directions is not acceptable. Apple is basically saying: "We're not as good as Google when it comes to navigation. We can't compete with them."
-I'm sorry; I love Apple products as much as anyone but no matter how you spin it, Apple LOST the first round of the maps/navigation war with Google.

I was hoping for an improved Mail program on the iMac--the current version is atrocious (I just came to Apple products last fall). I guess I'll check out the new Sparrow updates I've been reading about...(sigh).

I too was disappointed with the announcements on iOS. Seemed like a 5.5 release rather than a full 6.0 release to me. I never use Siri so for Apple to expand on it is sort of a waste to me. I liked the Maps update but for that to be the "stand out" feature was very lame.
Was really hoping for either a change to Springboard, modification/3rd party access to widgets in Notification center, and a quick toggle for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G/Airplane Mode.
I probably won't switch from Apple, but I don't see a compelling reason for Android or WP users to switch to Apple from their current platform.

No, not only will we iPhone 4 users not get Siri, we won't even get the turn by turn directions!!! but iPad 2 does??????? BAD move Apple, way to rip off a good chunk of your iPhone user base

James.....It's just standard Apple SOP. (switches to used car salesman voice) "Son, it's time we get you out of that iPhione 4 and into this new (suposedly) iPhone 5". It's the way Apple works. They let you hang on thru one upgrade, then it's out the door. The 4's are being phased out, and you will be forced to upgrade or loose functions. How do you think they sell millions of phones? You think that's NEW customers? As to the "big" release, YAWN. Turn by turn? I have a Tom Tom. New maps? I have a Tom Tom. Facebook? Don't use it. Would like text messages to stop buzzing in when i'm on the phone. The phhone has a sensor BUILT IN ALREADY to prevent you from face dialing on the phone, you can't tell me they can't tie that in somehow? Maybe this was Jobs last build, and MAYBE now we can step away from this old way of thinking. Just getting same thing re-packaged each year will not hold up anymore. Go read the posts.......people are not going for it anymore.

Not enough to make me give up a JB yet on the 5.1.1 kudos to @pod2g!
JB community have still surpassed current apple ios and ios 6. 3D maps...how often do you need 3D maps to navigate?

I think they will add some more features into it by the time it drops. Plus the new phone always does a few things you can only do on the new product. Will wait and see. As long as it keeps moving forward I'm okay.

I wouldn't sweat missing features at this point. I think they've left the best out for the iPhone announcement. It can't be just hardware they announce so I'd look for some pretty big updates at the iPhone announcement.
Great updates, glad to see some things finally make it to my iPad, but I expect major updates/announcements at the iPhone launch.

Are fan boys never satisfied? The effort required for what we "did get" is beyond what most companies are capable of. The impact of iOS 6 will be second only to impact the SDK had on iOS 2.

Actually, Apple's competition IS capable of this. They already had 90% of it implemented a couple years ago after all. Do try to keep up.

I am caught up thank you very much. I said "companies" and wasn't referring directly to Apple's "competition". For the record just because someone does something "first" doesn't make it better. If that were the case we'd all be rocking a Startac right now. My issue is with everyone's insane expectations. Get a job and software and you'll empathize.

Oops, didn't realize you were talking about companies that have nothing to do with this blog. My mistake to assume you were talking about Apple's direct competition, rather than the random unamed 2nd class software companies you meant. I apologize.
And for the record, just because Apple introduces something 2 years after most everybody else doesn't mean it's better. It's already painfully obvious that their maps app is missing key functionality. But don't worry, I'm sure they'll add that in a couple years and call it magical, amazing, and beautiful.

Really a letdown.
If no upgrade to UI I may opt to go a totally different route with my next phone platform.
Static/dumb icons are so "last decade".

It amazes me the people continue to complain about what Apple did not do. What, are you expecting everything you want to be in one OS release? Then what do you have to look forward to? Yes it may be frustrating this feature was left out. But guess what? Apple does it better than anyone out there when that new feature does come out and it just works not to mention a great user experience. And this is also another reason while the jailbreak community is needed. Do not disturb is already a feature out there but apple expanded on it. Still needs work, sure. But that is the beauty of Apple. Never in a rush and working to make it better. Remember that pie chart of Android users being on the current operating system? Fanboys yes, freakout no.

I really thought there was going to be a widget API this time around. You can already toggle the weather and stock widget on and off so the groundwork is there. I figured Apple would let you have up to two or three select widgets on at a given time to preserve the look of notification center and the functionality.

Can they just unlock the file structure so I can attach a document to an email? Apple seems to be leading the whole BYOD movement in business but they don't seem to give a rip about how to support a business user. Siri, maps, whatever, I just want to simply reply to an email and be able to attach a file to the reply. Blackberry and I'm sure almost every other mobile OS has this "feature" for years.
There are other files besides photos that need to be sent via email Tim. I would ask how do you attach all those legal documents you need to email from the lawsuits that keep piling up? Probably uses a blackberry...

They seem to be banking on Siri. Pretty risky move, considering how buggy she is and how limited her usefulness is. How long are they going to use the "beta" excuse? Why do they refuse to allow her more hooks to the OS? I mean after all, Siri as a whole kind of blows up the entire "Apple only implements perfected features" line of bs.

Why doesn't the general public realize that things that a small number of Internet denizens complain about is more important than their excellent user experience?
Apple is doomed.
...heh...

Yes, the announcement was a bit of a let-down, but I believe that more will be announced when they announce the next iPhone. After that it will be better to complain what you did and didn't get.

90% of the stuff already exist on other os's just shows how far behind apple is... Also maps lol how can you have maps but then not have public transport and pedestrian routes....

It was all a bit meh really. Don't get me wrong, lots of good things were shown and announced, but there wasn't a single surprising thing in the keynote. Not one. We already knew there was going to be a retina Macbook Pro. We knew there would be maps. We knew there would be Mountain Lion and most of its features. There was no "One more thing" and nothing to make anyone really sit up and go "Huh?!" More notable were the things absent, starting with a proper Mac Pro update.
Judging by this event, dare I say that Apple are becoming rather predictable. Roll on the next event to change my mind!

I think IOS user interface really needs significant refresh, it haven't changed a lot since IOS3. It really starts to look old compared to Android and WP7.
It need proper widgets view, and somehows more "depth" to that flat UI, without losing the ease-of-use. And that cheap looking notification bar drawer - it just needs to more work :)
Better Facebook integration and navigation are thumbs up improvements in IOS 6, since those features that people are looking for and will be using.

You guys are never satisfied. But I gaurentee 97% of you will stay with apple and buy the next phone. iPhone is still the best phone I've used. And if apple missed some things just wait for the jailbreak. I guess some people aren't happy unless their miserable.

I'm sure we'll get more when the new iPhone is announced. I'm satisfied with the new maps, facebook integration and passbook. I do wish that apps/tweaks like Zephyr, SBSettings and BiteSMS were integrated as well, but we'll just have to wait and see I guess.

Re: "Who knows what Apple will do in the future, but for the time being, Apple TV is going to be staying right where it is."
All things in time. Apple has revolutionized many industries, making them over in its own image. The TV industry will just take a little longer. There are many entrenched, die-hard competitors, each looking out for their own interest.
MP3 players: difficulty: easy. All it took was a great player (iPod) and a great infrastructure (iTunes on Mac or PC as digital hub.)
Music industry: difficulty: moderate. Theft was rampant. Microsoft and others tried ham-fisted DRM copy-protection schemes that people hated. In walked Apple with DRM-free music and a complete, mature, battle-hardened iTunes Music Store solution.
Television and movie industries: difficulty: extreme. The TV and movie industries are still relatively healthy. Still hanging on to legacy broadcast, cable, and satellite distribution networks. Still riding the crest of the world's last spinning plastic disc video medium (Blu-Ray.) Just barely starting to stream TV shows from their own web portals. Doing deals with Netflix and Hulu.
It will take several things to bring the TV and movie industries to their knees, begging Apple for salvation. The first is pervasive wired and/or wireless broadband. When you can download a full HD movie in a few seconds, it will be very easy to grab bootleg copies. Same thing happened to the music industry with MP3s. iTunes Music Store saved the music industry.
The second TV/movie industry crushing trend will be pervasive and fast cloud storage. No need to hoard terabytes of downloaded shows and movies. No need to download them at all. Just play the from the cloud, streamed to your devices. (This is why pervasive broadband is the first step toward the destruction of the old TV/movie industries.)
Apple is gradually building out iCloud, and it will eventually be Apple's media hub. And I'd go so far as to say that the major purpose of iCloud will be to stream audio, movie, and TV content to iOS and OS X devices. Including the Apple TV (and HDTV set if there is one.)
So that's why there isn't an Apple HDTV set yet. Not enough bandwidth. Not enough cloud storage. And most importantly, not enough deals with the movie and TV studios. But that will change once you can download an entire season of Game of Thrones in seconds. Apple remade the music industry in its own image. The same thing will happen with the movie and TV industries.

Anyone who is mad Apple didn't unlock the file structure clearly doesn't know Apple. In OSX Lion, they actually hid the Library folder with Application support files. Apple is a company that is worried about user experience, trying to put the OS in the background. They aren't concerned with the power users. Their neglect of the MacPro and removal of the 17" MBP is evidence of this as well. Their core customer base are the technological retarded, but that also doesn't mean those technologically proficient can't do more with their products.
And what's all this hate on the maps? Do you really think they were going to offer everything Google did right out of the gate? I was pleasantly surprised that their maps featured so much for its first iteration. Maps will continue to grow over time.
As an Apple user, I know they aren't going to get everything perfect the first time around. Their products continue improving with time through software updates, the same can't be said for android. I had the original iPhone until the 4 came out. I was happy with it for 3 years. With iOS 6, I will have more to like about my iPhone 4. I will probably be tempted by the 5 though. Nothing in the Android world has ever really appealed to me. The newer windows phones maybe, but not enough to consider a switch.
Why do Apple haters/Android fanboys always have to rant and rave about Apple? Who are you trying to convince? Let people make up their own minds. All platforms have their pluses and minuses. It all boils down to preference.

I would have liked to see a file management as it was described here at iMore. But at least Apple could have improved the "Open in" mangement. Ten apps for each file type is just too few. Every app registers itself for PDFs and as a result the important ones like Evernote drop out of the list.

Even though I will have access to all the features of iOS 6 because I owned the iPhone 4S, I am still not impressed. They did a great job with the GPS integration but the rest is really not all that of a huge additions. I was really mad to waste my lunch to listen to this presentation. I was expecting some mind blowing additions with introduction of new features that are either new or non-existence to the competitors. However, they are doing some slow catch up. APPLE YOU NEED TO STEP UP YOUR GAME!!!!!

One thing not added but rather taken away is Street View in the Maps app. With the new Maps app Street View will be totally unavailable on iOS. A real shame as I and many others find it invaluable. The maps app felt like a big step backwards. 3D flyover views feel less useful and will probably lack the coverage of street view and be slower to render. A flashy but unhelpful "upgrade".

There are probably hidden features in iOS 6 that most people would like. Plus they might add even more features throughout the betas

I am just at a loss for words. I view my iPad and iPod as expensive toys. But to read some of these comments where people are justifying that it is fine if when Apple releases something, it is so far less advance than technology others had a year ago, but that is OK Apple is so pretty........seriously? It really is like brainwashing. Apple products have always been good if you want to do one thing at a time. Operating system has always been like that. I would never give up my Nexus phone for an iPhone. And Apple should be embarrassed but they are laughing all the way to the bank. Ohhhh, ahhhh....let's just wait until fall, I am sure it will be cool. Really?

What I find funny is that people will never let go of this obsession with competiton. Every user thinks their "insert device here" is so much better than anything else. There are different people in the world and the things one person finds important another may never use. So can't we all just get off our high horse and just be happy with whatever device we have and leave other people to be happy with what they have? Then there is the constant "Apple's competitors had this years ago", then why aren't you using Apple's competitors?

It seems to me that many people aren't very happy with iOS 6 new map app. I understand the argument you guys make regarding Google maps being better. But they have been in that business how long...? Even Steve Jobs said he needed the people who knew the backend of the maps to complete the device. Remember? Now Apple is trying to dive into the uncharted territory -the backend- of the maps, and they are stumbling a bit. Who could blame them. It will be soon enough where the iMaps will become one of the best. Apple always demands the best and it will have in in a year may be. May be sooner. If you are a faithful user of Apple products you will not turn away just because of a small discomfort of the maps. Just hang on, and I will hope that we wont regret it.