With the release of iOS 6 highly likely in September (concurrent with the expected iPhone 5 announcement), the rumors around unannounced feature changes at tech sites are reaching an all-time high, so I decided to round up some of the big ones here. We already know about the main features in iOS 6 Apple announced at WWDC in June, but this list is more about leaked info that other sites are talking about. Obviously, we can't know for sure if any of these will be true at launch, but it's always fun to talk about what might be in store for iPhone users once iOS 6 is released.
Wi-Fi Plus Cellular
MacRumors reports that Apple has added a new toggle in iOS 6 that will let you set your iPhone to automatically switch to cellular data when your usual Wi-Fi connection is not working.
If true, this is an excellent addition to iOS 6 because it's annoying when you launch Safari or other Internet-connected apps only to gradually realize that you have no Internet connection. With this switch turned on, your iPhone or iPad will automatically recognize the problem and switch to a cellular data stream to continue the operation at hand.
Bluetooth data sharing
As previously reported at 9to5Mac, Apple has relaxed privacy settings for Bluetooth to allow data sharing among apps. We don't know much more than that, but theoretically this could make features like Passbook require almost no action whatsoever during ticket and event transactions. It could also be used for sharing data among iOS apps, such as multiplayer games.
This has been available on other smartphones for ages, and if it comes to fruition, it's about time it worked on the iPhone as well. I don't see there being much of an impact (this is not a killer feature, by any means), but it's something that iOS devices need.
Five-row home screens
Another 9to5Mac story is related to a more widely known assumption that the new iPhone will have a larger display. Apparently, in some leaked photos of alleged parts for the new iPhone, the new version appears to have a taller screen (while the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the hardware remain the same). The taller screen shown in the photos would push the new iPhone display resolution to 640x1,136 pixels, making it very close to a 16:9 ratio -- perfect for viewing full-screen movies natively.
The other advantage of a taller display, according to 9to5Mac, is that Apple could then show five rows of app icons on the home screen rather than just four. Aside from cutting down on multiple pages on your home screen, it would allow developers to take advantage of more screen real estate in their apps.
This rumor will certainly have an impact (how long have we wished for a larger screen?) with both being able to run 16:9 movies in full screen natively and saving a little room. If true, this will be one of the better interface improvements in iOS 6.
No Apple ID when the app is free
Anyone who has downloaded an app from the App Store is very familiar with punching in an Apple ID before the download begins. It can even get a little annoying when you have to do it every time (when your iPhone has gone to sleep and you wake it up again).
Cult of Mac reports that you won't have to enter your Apple ID when downloading a free app; the same will be true for updates and apps you have previously purchased. However, this will supposedly not be true for paid apps -- those will still require a sign-in.
This particular rumor is not life-changing, but it certainly gets rid of what I think is a common annoyance. I suppose it would be possible for your friend (or kid) to download several free apps without your permission, but you can always delete them, and for the convenience it seems like a wise move that will save time.
Passbook gets App Store access
Another rumor from MacRumors says that Apple has added a button at the bottom of the interface for the new Passbook app that will take you to the App Store. While it's not clear what this means, they assume that Apple will add a new section for apps with Passbook integration at the iTunes App Store.
I'm not sure if I agree with their assessment, but I also can't think of other uses for the App Store button. It seems like if the button was meant to take you to Passbook-integrated apps, it would say something like "More Passbook Apps" or something more descriptive. Like everything else in this list, we'll have to wait and see what happens when iOS 6 is released.
Check out our rumor roundup for the iPhone 5 -- from the likely to the crazy -- that we've heard so far in 2011 and 2012.