Regardless of whether Apple calls its next-generation smartphone the iPhone 5S, as many speculate, we do know that it will run on the already-announced iOS 7 operating system. iOS 7 makes powerful use of the iPhone's GPS, mapping, compass, and other navigation systems.
There is also a distinct possibility that the iPhone 5S will include a new indoor GPS feature, since Apple this year acquired the company WiFiSLAM, along with its indoor GPS technology. Here's how WiFiSLAM's founders describe its features: "Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings. We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking." Pretty exciting if it's teed up for the iPhone 5S.
In addition to possible indoor GPS, new iOS 7 navigation and location features include:
- "iOS in the Car," to be offered by most major car-manufacturers, puts a built-in screen and interface in new vehicles that mirrors the new iOS 7 interface, including an upgraded speech interface with Siri for phone, iMessage, turn-by-turn-directions, and more.
- A new "apps near me" feature lets you select from among apps that are most frequently downloaded near your location. Very usfeul when you think about how this can help you find the best of what's in use in your current location.
- Integration with the new OS X Mavericks operating system for iMacs and all laptops, set for release this fall. For example, you can research and create directions to a destination in OS X Maps and send it to your iPhone with one touch.
- Improved maps and 3D flyovers. Apple has been working hard to fix the accuracy problems of the previous iOS Maps.
- A Calendar app that recommends locations nearby as you enter topics, such as "pizza".
- The new Calendar app also includes travel time to your destination and will even allow time for it in your calendar if you select that option in settings.
Also teed up for the new iPhone 5S will be turn-by-turn walking directions in the Maps app. Already previewed in iOS 7, to use turn-by-turn walking directions, you simply select a destination in the normal way, via Siri by spoken request, or by using the search box. You will get a walking route option if you are nearby, and you can select the walking icon to choose it. When you select the route and start moving, you will receive spoken turn-by-turn directions (try earphones for this - great) and go straight to your destination with no worries.
New location features are also built into the new iOS 7 Find My iPhone to enhance security. "Losing your iPhone feels lousy. Thankfully, Find My iPhone can help you get it back," states Apple. "But if it looks like that’s not going to happen, new security features in iOS 7 make it harder for anyone who’s not you to use or sell your device. Now turning off Find My iPhone or erasing your device requires your Apple ID and password. Find My iPhone can also continue to display a custom message, even after your device is erased. And your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can reactivate it. Which means your iPhone is still your iPhone. No matter where it is."
Great progress on location features in a great new operating system. I'm looking forward to using them with Apple's latest and greatest hardware this fall.