U.S. computer giant Apple Inc. has announced a new advanced operating system for its products that will include an Apple-made mobile mapping service for iPhones and iPads, a smarter Siri voice-interaction feature and more FaceTime, or instant videophone communications.
Apple software chief Scott Forstall told the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in California that the new in-house mapping service in the forthcoming iOS 6 operating system is “built from the ground up.” The move will end Apple’s reliance on Google’s mapping software for its products.
Siri, the voice-activated search feature found on Apple’s iPhone cellular devices, will be able to speak turn-by-turn directions aloud – a significant upgrade for the mobile phone’s version of GPS – global positioning system – software.
Apple’s Siri personal assistant feature for the iPhone, which launched in October 2011, has been “studying up,” the copmpany’s software chief said, and in the near future it will integrate with more third-party software. Once applications such as Facebook and Twitter are launched, Forstall said users can talk to Siri to update a Facebook status or send a tweet.
Siri will come in more languages and will also be available on the iPad.
In addition, the new operating system allows users to make and receive video FaceTime calls over a cellular network. Previously video calling could only be used via wireless-network access to the Internet.
Apple’s iOS 6 will be in devices shipped in the coming months, when many older models of Apple’s products can be upgraded.
Apple chief Tim Cook also unveiled new models of the company’s Macbook Pro laptop computers that he described as thinner and faster than anything Apple previously produced. The new models include Apple’s highly rated Retina display system, previously only available on smaller iPads and iPhones, in a computer only 18 millimeters thick.
The devices have neither hard disks nor optical drives that can play DVDs or CDs. Data stored on the laptop will be on solid-state memory devices that are smaller, quieter and cooler than hard disks. Instead of DVDs, Apple expects customers to load software and new data such as music and movies from its “cloud” storage service.