Mobile phone expert blog

iOS 6 - where’s the innovation, Apple?

Catch-up features are less than we expect from a leader of innovation

By Hannah Bouckley 22/06/2012 17:15

Apple recently announced the latest version of its operating system - iOS 6. Although this was greeted by cheers and whoops from fans, developers and journalists lucky enough to attend Tim Cook’s keynote, let’s take a step back. In fact, few of its features are innovative and many already appear on other operating systems.


Perhaps the biggest change to iOS will be the introduction of Maps. Previously iOS used Google Maps, which meant Apple paying its arch-enemy Google.  Using data supplied by TomTom, Apple has designed its own maps with turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic updates. While this is great for Apple users, it’s hardly new; Windows Phone handsets include Bing Maps and Nokia phones have Nokia Maps pre-installed, although free traffic would be welcome.


Apple announced some new features for voice-assistant Siri, including film listings and sports results, undeniably features that make Siri more useful, but more natural progression than innovation.


Another new feature is Facebook integration - iPhone and iPad users can share photos, location and gaming scores to Facebook.  Apple, what took you so long?  I’m guessing pounding out the legalities with Zuckerberg et al. This should have appeared along with Twitter integration with the release of iOS 5 - and again Android has got there first with better share options.


It goes on. Replying to a call with a message and sending to voicemail - it’s been done by Google. Facetime calls over 3G - we can already do it with Skype.


Passbook has the potential to be innovative. It’s an app that stores boarding passes, movie tickets, loyalty cards and coupons. Instead of using a paper ticket, whip out your phone and scan a QR code. Time and location support means the tickets update automatically - for example if you’ve got a plane ticket and the gate changes the ticket will change.


Passbook sounds like Google Wallet, but is significantly different. Google Wallet uses NFC technology and is hardware based. Passbook doesn’t need an NFC chip, instead it uses the camera and QR codes.


It’s the potential of Passbook that’s so interesting.  Apple made no mention of Passbook working as a payment system, it’s merely to store tickets and loyalty cards.


But, by its own admission, Apple has already got 400 million users credit card details, so it’s not inconceivable to think that in the future iPhone users will pay for items by phone and the credit card tied to your iTunes account.


Taking that idea further, it could become possible for your iPhone to replace your whole wallet, with one login for all your vouchers and a method to pay. Depending on whether you love or hate Apple, this is either exciting or incredibly scary.


iOS 6 is a significant upgrade for Apple users, but clearly Apple hasn’t pushed the boundaries of innovation. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that a company which innovated so much in the early days of the mobile market has been overtaken by the likes of Android and Windows Phone in some areas. Nonetheless, this is Apple and we expect more (although I’ve given up on ever getting live widgets). Perhaps the subtle innovation of Passbook could soon become more far-reaching.

  • Our guest blogger Hannah Bouckley is editor at, specialising in mobile phones and tablets.

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