Largely unchanged since its debut with the first iPhone, Mail is a key app for business and personal correspondence. With iOS 6, Mail sees quite a few improvements, including something known as “VIP inbox.”
Mail now lets you configure a separate inbox for really important contacts. These contacts will have a star next to their names and their messages will automatically be listed at the top of your VIP mailbox. VIP contacts also get their own place in the “Notification Center,” so you’ll never miss an important email from your client, boss, or key customers.
A missing feature since Mail’s introduction, Apple has finally allowed per-account email signatures. This makes it easy for you to keep various work and personal accounts separate, and have your signatures with you at all times.
Keep Your Work at the Office
In the middle of a meeting? Finally taking the day off? It may be hard to totally turn off, but iOS 6’s new “Do Not Disturb” feature is designed to make it a little easier. You can now specify times when you do not want any notifications, phone calls, texts, or emails to alert you. Taking it a step further, you can specify criteria to let phone calls through, such as for emergencies or family members.
If you ever have to ignore a phone call, iOS 6 is here to make the experience a little friendlier. If you choose to ignore a call, you can now select from a list of pre-made messages to send to the caller such as “I’ll call you later,” or “I’m on my way”. You can also have your iPhone remind you to call the person back at a later time.
Message Anyone From Anywhere
With the release of OS X Mountain Lion taking iMessages out of beta, you’ll be able to keep your conversations going wherever you are. If you started a conversation on your Mac, you can pick right up where you left off on your iPad or iPhone. While this service is already available in iOS 5, Apple makes the process of starting conversations even easier in the version for iOS 6. Now, you can unify your phone number and Apple ID to avoid duplicate threads or unknown email addresses from appearing to those you’re chatting with.
For video, FaceTime will now work over 3G cellular networks. Originally a service that required access to a Wi-Fi network, 3G video-calling could be a boon for business people looking to stay connected while out in the field, or to keep in touch with teams located in different locations.
Get Where You Need To Go
In one of the largest application overhauls, you won’t be able to recognize Maps when iOS 6 is released. Built from the ground up on a new in-house map software, Apple has cut ties with Google Maps and now provides much more detailed maps, based on a combination of data TomTom and Bing.
This new level of accuracy and detail means the debut of an exciting new feature many have been waiting for: turn-by-turn navigation. With a simple interface, spoken directions and real-time traffic updates, Maps is designed to keep your eyes on the road and get you where you need to go, quickly and safely.
Your Wallet Goes Digital
Brand loyalty, traveling, and using coupons on the go will get a lot easier with iOS 6. Apple’s latest application offering, Passbook, provides customers with a simple way to keep track of boarding passes, coupons, loyalty cards, movie tickets, gift cards and more — right from their devices. Deeply integrated with push notifications, Passbook can notify you of gate changes for flights, alert you when coupons will expire and even let you know when it’s time to refill that Starbucks card!
Whether you’re looking to get a little more out of your smartphone or you want to empower your customers to share and interact with you even more, iOS 6 is a welcome improvement. A year in the making, iOS 6 is expected to be released this fall.
Are you looking forward to the release of Apple’s iOS 6? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
John Burke: John is a technology and social media enthusiast (as well as a self-proclaimed Apple fanboy). Before joining the Sprout team, he wrote for TUAW, DownloadSquad and AppStorm. John has been working in social media strategy for a number of years and manages accounts for higher education, organizations and non-profits. A graduate of Syracuse University, John currently lives in New York City where he is pursuing a career in aviation. You can follow him on Twitter or add him on Google+.