Downloading and Installing
The update to iOS 6 can be downloaded and installed using iTunes in the same way as all previous major iOS updates; iOS 5 should also be able take advantage of the over-the-air (OTA) update option first introduced last year.
iOS 6 is a free update for all supported iOS device models—the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, fourth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, and third-generation iPad. It’s also the default version of iOS for the new iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch.
iOS 6 will also require iTunes 10.7, released last week shortly following Apple’s iPhone event. While a major new release of iTunes is expected in October, iTunes 10.7 has been provided as a minor interim update to insure compatibility with iOS 6 and the new iPhone, iPod touch and iPod nano models.
To download and install iOS 6, users can use the “Check for Updates” option found on the Device Summary page in iTunes 10.7 which should locate, download and install the update automatically. In some cases, iTunes may have already discovered the update by itself, in which case you will simply see an “Update” button instead of a “Check for Updates” button. For an over-the-air (OTA) update, an iOS 5.x user can go into the device’s Settings app and choose General, Software Update to check for and download the update. Note that you may need to be on Wi-Fi to receive the OTA update, and your device should be connected to power or have at least 50% battery life remaining in order for the update to install.
The usual caveats and warnings apply here as with any iOS update: the installation may or may not preserve all of your existing data. It may result in the wiping of your device’s data under certain conditions, and it is therefore a good idea to make a full backup of your device before beginning. Be sure that all of your media content and apps are in your iTunes library, as these do not form part of the backups made by iTunes, as Apple reasonably expects that you should be able to re-sync this information from your iTunes library following a full restore. You can check the status of your backup before beginning by visiting the “Devices” section in your iTunes Preferences.
The bad news: ditching Google means losing Google's map data. As Noam Bardi, CEO of mobile mapping company Waze, explained to Business Insider, Apple is "coming out with the lowest, weakest data set and competing against Google, which has the [largest] data set." So while you won't have to resort to a 3rd-party app to get turn-by-turn directions, Apple's maps won't be as complete or accurate as Google's for some time.
Expanded International Support
Most significantly, Siri has been expanded dramatically beyond the few countries it was originally launched in. Siri is now available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S., although specific features such as sports, movies, and restaurant information still vary by country.
While the Messages app remains essentially unchanged in iOS 6, one significant addition is the ability to now add your iPhone’s phone number to your iPod touch or iPad, allowing iMessages sent to that phone number to be received on all of your iOS devices.
Apple’s video calling app FaceTime gains the same ability to use a phone number on iPad and iPod touch devices as Messages. This is configured separately in the FaceTime settings.
Reply and Remind
Users can now easily respond to incoming calls with a text message reply or set a reminder to return a call at a future time or location. A small phone icon now appears on the incoming call screen next to the Answer/Decline buttons; swiping up reveals options to “Reply with Message” or “Remind Me Later.”
Notifications and Do Not Disturb
Notification settings have been refined in iOS 6, moving most external notification options for features such as Messages and Phone calls into their specific categories under the Notification section in the Settings app, and adding a new “Do Not Disturb” feature that allows users to silence all notifications either on-demand—or impressively during a specific time each day. A “Do Not Disturb” switch toggle appears on the main Settings screen, and users can also configure a schedule with additional Do Not Disturb options under the Notifications section.
iOS 6 introduces a Panorama mode for the iPhone 4S and the new iPhone and iPod touch models. The feature is accessed from the “Options” button at the top of the camera screen, and once enabled provides a guide for moving the iPhone from left to right to capture a panoramic photo, using the device’s accelerometer and gyroscope to track movement, while displaying a guideline to help keep the device level and notify the user if he or she is moving too fast or erratically.
In iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion, open Safari tabs are now automatically synced to the user’s iCloud account, and can be accessed from Safari on any of these devices. On the iPad, an iCloud icon appears in the top toolbar to present a pop-over listing the open tabs on other devices; on the iPhone and iPod touch, this list is accessed from the iCloud Tabs section at the top level of the Bookmarks listing.
Offline Reading List
Safari in iOS 6 also expands on the Reading List feature introduced last year, adding support for caching items for viewing when offline. This offline caching is performed automatically in the background whenever content is added to the Reading List from any device that shares the same iCloud account, although users concerned about conserving data can choose to disable the Offline Reading List over a cellular connection, limiting it to Wi-Fi use only. This option can be found in either the Safari or Cellular sections in the iOS Settings app.
The Offline Reading List feature basically works in the background with no additional settings. It is worth noting, however, that the offline version is only used when no data connection is available—Safari will still go out to the Internet and fetch the original page whenever the user has a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, regardless of whether an offline copy has been cached or not.
Transition to iCloud.com
With the release of iOS 6, Apple has also begun transitioning e-mail accounts to using @icloud.com in place of the older @me.com domain name. Much like the original .Mac to MobileMe transition a few years ago, existing iCloud e-mail users will automatically receive an @icloud.com alias for their existing @me.com account, however new users will presumably be set up with @icloud.com as the only domain name.
iOS 6 allows users to choose which e-mail addresses they prefer to use for their iCloud e-mail account by going into their iCloud account settings.
Game Center in iOS 6 adds a new mode where players can challenge their friends to compete for achievements in various games.
iOS 6 takes a huge leap forward in terms of data privacy, now requiring every app to prompt the user when requesting access to location, contacts, calendars, reminders, photos, Bluetooth sharing, Twitter or Facebook. Previously, prompts were enforced for location and photo library access, but these prompts were not always clear, and only location services access could be reviewed from the Settings app.
iTunes Store and App Store
The layout of the iTunes Store and App Store has been revamped in iOS 6 with a layout that more closely resembles the desktop iTunes application. Content is now displayed as a series of thumbnails in a Cover Flow style view that the user can scroll left or right across. In the App Store, search results and category listings now display apps as full-screen “cards” with the icon, title, rating and screenshot; users can swipe left and right to scroll through the various apps.New API improvements to iTunes and App Store integration will also now allow users to directly purchase content from within third-party apps without having to switch over to the actual iTunes or App Store apps.
Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone has received several enhancements in iOS 6, including a new “Lost Mode” that allows a user to not only remotely lock the device, but also display a message on an iPhone lock screen with a callback number that can be accessed in a single tap. This allows a potential finder to contact the proper owner and return the device.