Facebook has been implemented throughout iOS 6. And you can make a FaceTime call over the cellular data network -- previously it was just Wi-Fi. Apple says there are more than 200 new features in iOS 6.
Passbook. I'm particularly high, at least in theory, on another iOS 6 addition called Passbook, a repository for boarding passes, movie tickets, coupons and such. You can even display your boarding pass from the iPhone lock screen. How it works in the real world remains to be seen. In some respects, it represents Apple's answer to the digital wallet. Apple is obviously not a big believer in so-called NFC (near field communication) technology that is in some Android and other devices. NFC is not part of the new iPhone.
Photos. According to Apple, the new iSight camera performs better, even in low light. Apple says it can capture pictures 40% faster than before. Apple's Phil Schiller joked about the pictures you can take with the new camera: "Kids look happier." With the new phone, you can also capture panorama images. It's a feature found in some point-and-shoot cameras. On stage, Apple showed a stunning 28-megapixels panoramic image of the Golden Gate Bridge. I took my own panorama shot of the crowd in the post-press event demo area.
Apple says video stabilization has been improved. It has added Shared Photo Streams, a feature that, as the name suggests, is a new way to share images with friends. The company also said it improved the front-facing FaceTime camera.
Audio. The phone has three microphones, one on the front, one on the back, one on the bottom. Apple says the speakers are better, too. The company has used new "wideband audio" technology to bolster sound by filling up more of the frequency spectrum and has incorporated noise-cancellation technology it says will reduce background noise when on a call.
The dock connector. Now, a controversial topic: Apple has employed the same 30-pin dock connector for its iPods, iPhones and iPads for about a decade. Of course, these days there are lots of other ways to connect -- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi syncing, USB. Now Apple is evolving the connector to something called Lightning, playing off the name of Apple's other emerging connector, Thunderbolt. The new connector is 80% smaller, and Apple says it's more durable. It helped the designers keep the iPhone 5 smaller. Apple is working with Bose, JBL and others, so expect dock-connector accessories by the holidays. But what of all the accessories you have that use the older connector, such as the one in your car? Those won't fit any longer. Apple is coming out with a $29 adapter that would let you hook up those other devices, but it's yet another gizmo you might have to carry in your bag and could potentially lose. Expect some short-term inconvenience.
EarPods. More than 600 million earbuds from Apple have been shipped through the years, and I've never been particularly fond of them. So I'm eager to try the newly designed EarPods that Apple plans to ship with the iPhone 5 and with the latest iPod Nano and iPod Touch devices, which were also announced Wednesday. EarPods include a small microphone and remote and provide, Apple claims, a more natural fit.
ITunes and iPods. Separate from the iPhone 5-related announcements, Apple spent some time talking about cleaner new versions of iTunes for iOS and for computers. Among the enhancements: You can now see the contents of your music library and playlists at the same time. One potentially useful, if not overly exciting, feature is called Up Next. Yes, it lets you know what's about to play next (though you can rearrange the order). Apple improved the new miniplayer that appears when you're doing something else on your computer. You can search from within the miniplayer. ICloud is built right into iTunes, so you can pick up watching a movie right where you left off.
The new iPod Nano is 38% thinner, multitouch, has an FM tuner with live pause and a 2.5-inch display. Widestream video is coming back. Bluetooth was added. And it has the Lightning connector. Apple says it offers up to 30 hours of battery life.
Changes are also coming to the iPod Touch, especially popular with gamers. It is thinner, weighs 88 grams and has the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5. It has a faster A5 dual-core chip and superior graphics.
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