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iOS 6 logo
On Monday, Apple gave a preview of its next mobile operating system, iOS 6, which brings deeper Facebook and Siri integration and functionality. It also replaced the Google Maps app, which has been a part of the platform since 2007, with its own in-house Maps program.
Following the release of the developer iOS 6 beta, I decided it might be useful for potential phone buyers if I compared the five most notable features of iOS with the platform's key competitors, Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows Phone Mango.
Image credit: Apple
Choosing a smartphone? Consider the OS.
Voice actions on Andriod
Voice recognition and control
In the iOS 6 update, Apple gave voice recognition tool Siri new powers to launch native and third-party apps, using spoken commands only.
Thankfully, Android owners can also get in on the voice-control action courtesy of Google Voice Actions (pictured). Galaxy S III owners get even more spoken control functionality through Samsung's S Voice system, which lets people open native and third-party apps, schedule appointments, check out the weather or perform web searches without touching the handset.
Windows Phone also lets people open native and third-party apps via speech, but it lacks the added functionality for more advanced tasks, such as scheduling meetings.
It's interesting to see that the major mobile OS vendors are putting a lot of weight behind voice actions in order to distinguish themselves from the competition. Personally, I don't really use voice control apps, except perhaps when I receive a text message while driving. Like others, I tend to feel a bit stupid shouting at my phone in the street.
On top of this, recognition of the action that you want to perform also seems to be hit and miss across all the platforms.
Image credit: Ben Woods
iOS 6 Maps
Perhaps the most notable change to the iOS platform is the switch away from Google Maps to Apple's own mapping software. Like its predecessor, the new Maps app offers voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and an aerial view. It also provides 3D map options.
Not to be outdone in one of its key strengths, the Google Maps app on Android provides the same level of options as iOS 6, including 3D mapping, which the company confirmed would soon be present on the platform.
Windows Phone once again is left lagging in the way it handles mapping natively. However, Nokia's Windows Phone handsets come with Nokia Maps and Navigation apps that do provide turn-by-turn, voice-guided navigation, even when offline.
All the platforms provide information — and options to navigate to — local businesses within mapping applications.
Although by no means the most fully-featured, I tend to use Nokia's Maps app on Windows Phone most frequently. However, there are times when the lack of route options — when using it to navigate, for example — leaves me wishing I had an Android phone to hand. Time will tell whether Apple's new Maps app will be enough to make me switch.
Image credit: CNET UK
Apple iOS 6: New features in pictures.