UPDATED: See below
If you're an Apple fan, own an iPhone, or just happened to wake up yesterday, you already know that Apple has unveiled the next iteration of its mobile operating system, iOS 6.
It's not as if that was a surprise. iOS 6 was one of the worst-kept secrets in Apple's history, with details leaking out weeks in advance of the launch -- but of course, those leaks didn't present the full story of the significantly enlarged operating system.
Now that Apple CEO Tim Cook has walked us through iOS 6, we have a better understanding its scope. And unfortunately, for some of our favorite apps and app-makers, Apple has just made life a whole lot harder.
Everyone knows that Apple has been gunning for Google -- and Google Maps in particular. In fact, there have been a flurry of recent rumors that Apple was planning to dump Google Maps for its own mapping system, and at the iOS 6 launch, those speculations proved correct. The reasons for Apple's branching out into the map-making business are varied, but we have a hunch it has something to do with the increasingly heated battle for market share between Apple and Google's Android devices.
Of course, Google isn't taking the iOS 6 snub lying down. As we mentioned last week, Google Maps has added some nifty new tools for travelers that may make some iPhone owners pine for life before iOS 6.
Hopefully, Google Maps will live on as a separate application, available within Apple's App Store. But exiting as a separate app is much, much different than being deeply integrated into the iPhone's default suite.
TomTom, Waze and other traffic apps
One of the things that we didn't see coming with the latest version of iOS was real-time traffic updates. That's sure to wreak havoc with well known apps like those from TomTom*, which offer similar data for drivers. The fact that iOS 6 will also offer turn-by-turn navigation to talk you to you destination may be one more nail in TomTom's coffin.
Crowdsourced data about crashes, construction, and other driving hazards -- collected both actively and passively from drivers -- is what makes Waze and its kin so useful. However, Apple is notorious for keeping a tight rein on its products, so crowdsourcing seems like the sort of thing that Apple Maps will likely avoid.
Individual features of Apple Maps' competitors may prolong their life, too -- like Waze's gaming elements and Trapster's community of police-spotters, which Apple isn't likely to support.
DriveSafe.ly, Phone Guard, and other apps that fight distracted driving
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is probably sending Tim Cook a Swiss Colony gift basket as we speak. For years, LaHood has preached about the importance of curbing distracted driving, and recently he's been putting pressure on automakers to lend a hand to his cause.
Interestingly, though, Apple may be an even bigger boon to LaHood than car companies themselves. Earlier today, we told you about how Apple's popular virtual assistant, Siri, will soon be found on steering wheels from nine automakers. That's great news, since drivers will be able to ask her to read text messages, control music, and carry out other tasks with the press of a button.
iOS 6 also combats distracted driving by offering new options to help drivers stay focused on the road. True, the new operating system doesn't completely disable texting while driving, but a new feature called "Do Not Disturb" keeps texts and phone calls at bay. (You can, however, provide a list of approved contacts who can get through, like bosses and spouses.)
iPhone owners can turn on "Do Not Disturb" manually -- say, when they're driving -- or they can set it to activate on a repeating schedule, like at night when they're trying to sleep. When it's activated, the iPhone won't even vibrate.
Of course, it's not a complete replacement for DriveSafe.ly and other apps that aim to reduce distracted driving. It's not persistently on, so every time you set foot in the car, you have to activate it -- unlike some other apps that run in the background and disable calling and texting when the accelerometer indicates that the phone is traveling a certain speed. But it's an awfully interesting start.
Did you spot some other apps that may face trouble from iOS 6? It is worrying that Apple is swallowing up these apps we've come to know and love? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.
*UPDATED: TomTom's goose may not be cooked after all. Engadget has posted leaked photos of iOS 6 showing that TomTom will, in fact, provide the data for Apple Maps. (Presumably that data will include the maps themselves as well as real-time traffic info.) This seems reasonable, since Apple doesn't have a long history of mapping under its belt and probably isn't keen to spend millions of dollars catching up.
So, while TomTom's dashtop devices are likely to take a hit from Apple's latest operating system, the company seems poised to live on in the B2B world as a data provider. Well played, TomTom, well played.