Along with the announcement of the iPhone 5 on September 12, 2012 came news about iOS 6, the new operating system update for Apple portable devices. The iPhone 5 would launch with iOS 6 already installed, but the launch date on September 19 for iOS 6 would allow users to update their operating system on the following Apple devices: the iPhone 3Gs, 4, and 4s, iPad 2 and the new iPad, and 4th and 5th Generation iPod Touch. Of course, not all the new features will arrive for all devices, as their hardware capabilities will limit the functionality. iOS 6 brings a lot to the table, so I’ll just touch on a few of the noteworthy additions and changes this latest operating system provides.
The biggest reaction thus far regards the replacement of Google Maps with Apple’s own Maps app. It seems that Google and Apple aren’t seeing eye-to-eye these days, and the impact of this frayed relationship is revealed with iOS 6. Apple Maps is visually appealing, with 3D flyover capabilities and turn-by-turn navigation, but there is blood in the water over the limitations being revealed in this new Maps app. With Google being the de facto leader of the online map industry, Apple had to turn to other organizations to fill in the gaps for their version, and the flaws are many.
While TomTom agreed to supply mapping data to Apple, the company is distancing itself from the debacle, stating that they only supplied the foundation for the Apple mapping solution. With issues like missing roads, wrong locations, poor search capabilities, and the absence of Google’s street view, this new addition that comes with iOS 6 is drawing harsh criticism from the public. Be warned: you might not like what you find in Maps on iOS 6. Google should be releasing its own standalone app soon, but no release date has been set.
Facebook integration is now available with iOS 6, allowing users to easily upload photos, post status updates, and integrate contact information directly within the operating system. With Twitter integration being present since iOS 5, this is a logical move for both Apple and Facebook, and everyone seems to “like” this feature.
On the communication front, the standard phone app gets a nifty update that allows you to decline incoming calls with text messages. You can set your own preset responses or you can answer with whatever message fits the occasion. You can even remind yourself to return the call later with time or location-based triggers. Another great addition is the Do Not Disturb feature that allows you to avoid calls except from people you deem to allow. It can even be set on a schedule, which is great for those folks who want to avoid calls after hours.
iMessage is also beefed up in that you can now get your text messages on all your devices after configuring the phone numbers and emails you wish to include. This works on the Mac too, if you’re running Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8). A VIP inbox that lets users select certain contacts has been added to Mail, and they’ve even made it easy to attach photos and videos to emails on your device.
For new iPad and iPhone 4s users, the Camera app now allows you to take panoramic pictures, which is a neat idea, considering all the third-party apps that provide something similar. Another addition for new iPad users is the inclusion of Siri, so now you can talk to your device to get information you need. Previously only available on the iPhone 4s, Siri is also working together with some third-party apps like Yelp and even allows you to open apps with voice commands.
Aside from the aforementioned new bells and whistles, iOS 6 introduces many more features and functions, like Passbook, Find my Friends, and countless other tweaks and improvements that are guaranteed to keep you busy for the near future. If you have one of these devices that can take this operating system update, I recommend that you go ahead and update to iOS 6.