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Apple announces iOS 6: Smarter Siri, new maps, Facebook and more

Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote event and plenty of product announcements — which included the next version of iOS 6. The latest version of Apple's popular mobile operating system includes over 200 new features.

Siri's gotten smarter in iOS 6. It's learned a lot of new languages (Italian, Mandarin, Catonese, and more) and become friends with a lot of new services. 

The personal assistant can now offer significantly more information when asked about sports, restaurants, movies and more. You'll be able to make restaurant reservations (thanks to OpenTable and Yelp integration) or get movie reviews (thanks to Rotten Tomatoes integration). And better support for Twitter means that you can also ask Siri to tweet for you.

Oh, and it is also now finally possible to launch apps using Siri. Just tell her you want to "play Angry Birds" and see what happens. 

The rumors were true — iOS 6 comes with Facebook integration. It looks very much like the Twitter integration Apple added in the last major version of iOS. There's now even a neat "tap to post" option in the Notification Center now (right along with a new "tap to tweet" button).

Facebook is deeply integrated into the calendar as well, meaning that Facebook events (and birthday's listed on Facebook) will appear on your device's calendar.

Reply with message or remind me later
If you find yourself in a situation where you're unable to take a call, you can now instruct your iPhone to send a pre-set message to the caller or to remind you to call the person back.

Do not disturb
A "do not disturb" feature was added to iOS 6. It means that you can tell your phone that it should silence alerts or incoming calls for a while, so that you can sleep in peace (or not interrupt a quiet meeting).

This do not disturb feature allows for a lot of fine-tuning, meaning that you can make sure that people in your "favorites" list could be set to always ring through or that your phone should ring if someone calls twice within three minutes.

FaceTime now works over 3G, not just over Wi-Fi. And you don't have to worry about whether you're selecting someone's phone number or Apple ID when placing a FaceTime call — because the two are being united.

Safari now has iCloud tabs — which allows for browsing sessions to be synced across your devices — as well as an offline reading list. You'll now also be able to upload photo's right from Safari to your favorite websites.

Photo Stream
You can now easily share your Photo Streams with friends or family. All you have to di is choose a photo and an album — your pals will receive a notification and the photos will appear in an album where they can comment.

The Mail app is getting some nice new features. The VIPs feature will allow you to mark individuals as important, so that their emails will be starred and appear in a "flagged" mailbox.

It's now even simpler to add photos or videos into emails and the inbox can be refreshed with a pull.

 new app called Passbook will allow you to collect and store boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets, and all the things you'd normally have to print out and hand over for scanning. 

Thanks to location support, the app will even pull up the relevant card once you are near the place where you'd use it. (This means that if you're near a Starbucks, Passbook would pull up your Starbucks card.) And as a bonus, cards are live-updating, meaning that your boarding pass will always update with gate change information.

Guided access
Apple's adding something called guided access to iOS 6. This will allow you to disable certain controls or parts of the display in order to make your device a bit more kid-friendly.

As anticipated (and rumored), Apple's ditching Google Maps in iOS 6. It will use its own mapping solution now. There's Yelp integration, traffic information (with real-time crowd-sourced data), automatically re-adjusting routes, and the ability for Siri to answer the age-old "are we there yet?"

Apple's also adding something called "Flyover" to Maps. This feature makes the whole world look a bit like a Sim City game by showing 3-D models of geographical features and buildings.

Oh, and did I mention that there are now turn-by-turn directions in Maps now? Siri will now be able to guide you to and from places.

Lost mode
The Find My iPhone feature now offers something called "lost mode." This feature will allow you to send a phone number to a missing device in order to allow whoever found it to call you. (This is, of course, assuming that someone is interested in tracking you down and returning your beloved iDevice.)

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