The New Mobile iDevice Operating System -iOS6: Helpful Features and a Warning

September 20, 2012

As of yesterday, Sept.19, Apple has their newest mobile operating system available in the desktop iTunes app or online for iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2, iPad 3, and the fourth generation iPod touch. Apple is adding about 200 updates to the new operating system. Some of the features are not available on all of the devices- especially the older ones. Here is a link with more detailed information http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/

There are quite a few new features that I am especially looking forward to using with my iPhone and iPad- but I am going to hold off for a while on installing iOS6. I want to play it safe and wait for all the app developers to catch up with the changes prior to downloading this new operating system so that I avoid bugs and crashes. It’s hard to believe- but Apple keeps app developers in the dark until shortly before it releases new devices and operating systems and then there is a race to update the apps so that they will work properly.

Here are few of the changes I am most looking forward to trying:

Guided Access – This feature will enable us to limit the device to a single app by disabling the home button or restrict touch on certain parts of the screen. This will be a great solution for those of us who help individuals who keep exiting the apps we want to be working on. It will help users stay on task and avoid closing apps by mistake. I believe that this feature was added with kids on the Autism spectrum in mind- but I also work with many adults who have cognitive challenges for whom this feature will be very helpful.
Highlighting words as they are said aloud– Research has proven that reading skills improve and individuals with reading disabilities are helped when words are highlighted as text is read aloud. For many years I have used a wide variety of software that provides these types of assistance for students with learning differences as well as for adults who have aphasia. This feature is now going to be included with this new operating system. I am not sure if each word will be individually highlighted or the sentence will be highlighted- but am looking forward to giving this feature a try.
Facetime will work with 3G– Facetime is an iDevice app that allows you to see people as you speak to them. The participants have to both be in Wi-Fi not just 3G or 4G. With this new upgrade- it will be possible to see people and speak to them just with 3G. I can imagine all sorts of ways this can be used to help individuals with communication challenges! Showing live images of actions, people, and items can often convey messages that words may not be able to.
Options for Answering iPhone Calls -When there is a call on a device with iOS 6, it will ask if you’d like a reminder to call back later, or to reply with a text. There will be preset text options like, “I’ll call you later,” or “What’s Up?” This will be great for individuals who are in a noisy location, a doctor’s office or have writing skills that are better than speaking ability. There will also be a “Do Not Disturb” feature which will block calls, texts, alerts and notifications. The user can designate specific callers who can get thru or the feature will turn off when someone calls twice in a short period of time.
GPS Directions Aloud – The Apple Maps app will be accessible directly from the lock screen and include a 3-D image of the desired location.
App Locks- We will be able to password protect apps that we don’t want others to use. This will be very helpful as part of the “pass back” phenomenon- when parents pass their devices back to kids in the car to help them behave well.
I look forward to giving these new features a try when I feel it is safe for me to download iOS 6. I use my ipad every day and want to give time for the developers to work out any issues that might have arisen from this upgrade. On the flip side- I am a bit hesitant about some of the changes not listed above. Facebook is more closely integrated into the new iOS, I am more of a Facebook lurker than poster. I am inclined to keep much of what I do private and don’t revel in frequent posting and updates. I also use Google quite a bit and know that Google Maps and YouTube will no longer be native applications, pre-loaded on the devices, as the Apple and Google go their separate ways. I know that new apps will be developed and all will be fine- it’s just more to figure out.

I am hosting a number of workshops and webinars on using the iPad and other technologies to help children and adults who have a wide range of communication, cognitive, literacy and learning challenges. To learn more about me and what I do check out www.innovativespeech.com.  For specific information about upcoming workshops and webinars and to register go to www.ist.ticketleap.com.

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