How to get iOS 6 features on iOS 5 right now

Apple turned out quite a set of updates to iOS at WWDC this year. The problem is that iOS 6 isn’t going to arrive until sometime in the autumn.

So why wait? It’s entirely possible to bring on most of what Apple announced at WWDC with help from a select few apps.

Maps

Apple’s Tim Cook was lolloping about gleefully on stage at WWDC while announcing Apple’s plans for Maps, and with good reason. Apple has entirely gutted the stock iPhone Maps app, turning it into a much more useful, slick and compelling experience.

Straight out the box iOS 6 is going to bring turn-by-turn direction, voice-controlled navigation, 3D maps and a whole lot else. For most this is going to be the most useful addition to iOS. So how do you get it now? Download the TomTom app.

Irritatingly there is no one-stop shop mapping app from TomTom, so you are going to have to download a ton of £57.99 apps if you want the worldwide coverage Apple manages. However it does mean you get turn-by-turn directions, traffic notifications and a pretty slick UI. It is also worth noting that the TomTom maps work offline too. The app also integrates with Facebook quite nicely, giving it that iOS 6 feel.

TomTom can be downloaded here

OS X syncing

Things such as notes and reminders will now sync up to OS X Mountain Lion with iOS 6. Unlike with Maps, this is something much easier to work around as there is already a fully featured management app on the App Store.

Evernote is a well established multi-platform application designed to help you remember things. You can store notes, audio clips, web pages and images and then sync them all across devices. The web page syncing alone replaces iOS 6’s iCloud tabs. The rest, many would argue, is even more featured than what iOS currently offers. The best bit? It’s free so no dishing out wads of cash to get iOS 6 style functionality early.

Evernote can be downloaded here

Facebook integration

This is a slightly more difficult one to pull off as Apple protects a lot of iOS functionality. Apps can’t mess with things like sharing particularly easily and it also can’t add on elements to the core apps of iOS. iOS 6 is going to let you post pretty much anything you see on the web to Facebook, as well as the likes of photos and video.

You can simply download the Facebook Camera app, which will deal with a lot of the photo uploading woes. It also has a rather nice UI. For the rest, Evernote comes back into play, as it can share to Facebook. Failing that you can also set up Facebook to track your tweets and have them added as a Facebook status too. 

The Facebook Camera app can be downloaded here

Facetime over 3G

Something which should have been available long ago as a core part of Facetime, video calling over 3G has been possible for a while using Skype. Like the problems had with Facebook integration, Skype won’t work directly with the phone app of iOS.

You will need to have the application open, but while running it it's easy enough to chat, make voice calls using data or video calls over 3G and, unlike the Windows Phone 7 version, it will run in the background. It runs well enough and the application can also go one better than Facetime, communicating between any device with Skype on it and not just the iPhone and iPad.

Grab the Skype app here

Passbook

Passbook appears to be iWallet in its final form. A means to store everything ticket-based on your iPhone, the app can even do things such as notify you of a nearby Starbucks where you have points.

Stuff like the British Airways app will let you carry a QR code so you can board an aircraft. Then there are applications like O2 priority tickets and seatwave as well as Virgin Trains, which will all let you book and store ticket details. Likewise Starbucks has its own app that you can use for the time being. Apple's approach is to put them all in one place - and we can't find an app in the App Store that lets you do that currently.

Get British Airways here

Get Virgin Trains here

Shared Photostreams

Fixing this problem is incredibly straightforward. Rather than waiting for iOS 6’s ability to share snaps between friends, just join one of the many brilliant photo-sharing websites. We recommend Instagram as it has a brilliant iOS app.

If you want to upload bigger pics, then there is always the likes of Flickr. Lets not forget Facebook either, where most will have an already established base of friends with whom to share images. If you want the private route you could opt for Path, where the sharing angle is a lot more focused, or go even more niche with apps like 23snaps -  designed for parents to share pictures of their kids with the grandparents and no one else. 

Get Instagram here

Mail and VIPs

A tough call on this one. Apple’s mail app keeps on getting better with each iOS release. The way the company protects it also means it's a challenge to find much that offers something similar to what VIPs can do.

The best option would be to use the Gmail application on the iPhone or Sparrow. In Gmail the priority inbox and the ability to star messages is virtually identical to what Apple is planning with iOS 6. Only problem is that so far the app only works with Gmail users. Sparrow on the other hand works with all email accounts, supports priority inbox, Facebook connectivity, multiple signatures, and much more. 

Get the Gmail app here

Get Sparrow app here

Siri

Siri is headed to the iPad for iOS 6 and comes with a few improvements. The virtual assistant can now search for sports scores and fixtures as well as look up restaurant info and help with navigation. Only problem is it is still a feature available on current generation Apple devices.

We have a clever workaround in the form of Evi, a Siri-style app which works on the iPhone 4. Evi can do things such as send an SMS, call contacts, find location-based information and search the web for facts. In fact Evi does most of what Siri manages, although arguably not quite as well. 

Get Evi here

Guided Access

Improvements have been made for those with disabilities in iOS 6. Guided Access options now allow you to control certain parts of the screen to stop you accidentally exiting the app, should you place a finger on the wrong area of the display. This is also going to be useful for museums and schools, which want to lock iDevices to just one app.

The best iOS 5 workaround for this is Zoodles, a kid mode for your iPhone and iPad which shows them educational videos and gives them the ability to draw and colour in, as well as do things like watch Lego instructional videos and take quizzes. It might not entirely lock up iOS, but is definitely a handy educational supplement.

Get Zoodles here

Any other iOS 6 style apps we have missed? Let us know in the comments below ... 

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