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Refined iOS 6 highlighted by stunning Maps overhaul

Dan Moren | Sept. 20, 2012
Following on the heels of the massive update that was iOS 5, iOS 6 might seem like merely a modest update. But that doesn't make it insignificant by any means: A key app has received a substantial overhaul in this latest update, Apple has added an intriguing new--if yet unproven--built-in app, and the company has even, for the first time, removed a piece of software present since the iPhone's launch.

You can also ask Siri about football, basketball, hockey, and a variety of soccer leagues, including the MLS and English Premier League. While Siri doesn't know anything about other sports, she was in my experience at least able to identify golf, tennis, and rugby as sports and apologize for not having more information.

Movies If movies are more your cup of tea, Siri can handle that as well. Ask for movies playing near you, and you'll get a list, including ratings from Rotten Tomatoes. (You can also ask for movie theaters nearby; tap any one of those and you'll get a list of what's showing. In my test, several of the theaters looked to have incomplete showtimes.)

Tapping on any movie will give you the Rotten Tomatoes and MPAA ratings and the option to view the trailer by tapping on the movie poster. Showtimes are listed at the bottom; tapping on them will show you which theaters are playing the film. You can't purchase tickets via Siri's interface, though; for that you'll still need to jump out to an app or website.

Compared to sports, Siri's more knowledgeable about movie history. Ask it who won best actor in 1963, and back comes "Gregory Peck" and information about To Kill a Mockingbird. Want to figure out which movie starred guys who had elsewhere portrayed Ghandi and Bob Woodward, and you'll get the 1992 masterpiece Sneakers. Sadly, though, Siri can't tell you Mark Hamill's Bacon number.

Restaurants Restaurant information is probably Siri's best new feature. iOS 6 has improved the local search options that debuted in iOS 5, thanks to tighter integration with Yelp. Ask "What's the best place for dinner around here?" and Siri will provide you with a list restaurants near your location, sorted by rating. Each listing also includes the type of cuisine, address, distance, and how expensive it is.

Tap on a restaurant and you'll get hours, phone number, website (if available), address (with a map), and star rating. Tap on the rating to read a few selected comments, to check in at the location, or to write your own tip. (The latter two launch the Yelp app if it's installed on your system). You can also tap on the picture in the top left corner to view photos, which also gives you an option to add your own (again, via the Yelp app).

Best of all, if the restaurant uses the OpenTable reservation service, you can tap a button to make reservations or even have Siri do it. "Make me a reservation for two at 7pm on Wednesday night at Ruth's Chris" pops up a panel telling you whether or not tables are available at your chosen time. It even offers you the option to shift that time in one direction or another. Tap Make Reservation, and the OpenTable app will launch (if it's installed on your phone); if not, you'll be prompted to download it. Of all Siri's features, this is the one that strikes me as the most futuristic: I just told my robot assistant to make me dinner reservations and it did.

 

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