iOS 6: What You Need to Know

iOS 6: What You Need to Know

iOS 6 is being released today. Apple says it’ll take your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in entirely new directions. We’re going to take a look at the major new features in the updated OS, and see which directions we’re going to be taken in.

Here are the 10 major new features in today’s update. (More details are available from our iOS 6 coverage, or  Apple’s iOS 6 page.)


Beautifully designed from the ground up (and the sky down), Maps will change the way you see the world. […] graphics and text are incredibly detailed — even when you zoom all the way in — and panning is smooth. Tilt and rotate to view an area, and Maps keeps the names of streets and places where they belong. Get visual and spoken turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic updates. Even soar over cityscapes to see the sights from the air in amazing, high-resolution quality.

Bottom line? You’re not going to miss Google Maps a bit. 3D flyover, Turn-by-Turn navigation, traffic data, integration with Siri and Yelp. The navigation function even works to direct you if you’re in the lock screen. Give your Garmin to Grandma, you won’t be needing it any more. Finally, you’re not going to mind when someone tells you where to go.


With iOS 6, Siri understands more languages, works in more countries, and is available on the new iPad. […] Want to know the latest scores and stats for your favorite teams and players? […] Siri can show you the latest reviews and showtimes. Find the best restaurants in town and make reservations. Even open your apps for you — no tapping required. […] You can even use Siri to post Facebook updates and tweet for you, too.

Sports scores and stats, movie times and reviews with content from Rotten Tomatoes, and restaurant information, (from Yelp), even reservations via OpenTable. Siri is finally a true digital assistant.

She can understand relationships in your contacts better, reschedule your appointments, and is just an all around better assistant. Siri has learned a lot in her year in beta.


Now it’s easier than ever to interact with the world’s largest social network. And there’s no need to leave your app to do it. Share a photo to Facebook right from Camera or Photos. Post your location right from Maps. Brag about a high score right from Game Center. If you have your hands full, just ask Siri to post for you. You need to sign in to Facebook only once, and you’ll be off and sharing.

[…] Facebook events are integrated into Calendar. And your Facebook friends’ profile information is integrated into Contacts, so when they update an email address or phone number you automatically stay up to date. Now that’s something to post about.

It’s all about social network integration in iOS 6. Brag about your high video game story, while posting a screenshot of it, and letting everyone know you’re not at work, but the coffee shop instead… Social media, WOO-HOO!

Shared Photo Streams

Now you can share just the photos you want, with just the people you choose. Simply select photos from the Photos app, tap the Share button, choose who you want to share your photos with, and they’re on their way. Friends using iCloud on an iOS 6 device or a Mac running Mountain Lion get the photos delivered immediately in the Photos app or iPhoto. You can even view shared photo streams on Apple TV. […]

This is a great feature, sharing your photos, as soon as you take them. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi, there they go, off into the stream. This feature is great for vacation photos, no worries about filling up your camera, or losing any photos. Get back to the hotel, hit the Wi-Fi in your room, BOOM! Everything is “in the cloud.” Just make sure they’re photos you don’t mind your parents seeing…


Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place — like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon. And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal.

“No NFC in the new iPhone 5!”, they wailed! Bah! No need for NFC with Passbook. This app does the job with no need for any added investment by merchants.

I can stop and get a coffee, have my movie tickets pop up when I get to the theater, and get my loyalty discounts at the supermarket on the way home, all without digging through my wallet for 5 different cards? Sign me up!

FaceTime over cellular

FaceTime now works over cellular networks as well as Wi-Fi, so you can make and receive FaceTime calls wherever you happen to be. You can even make and receive FaceTime calls on your iPad using your phone number. That means you can use FaceTime wherever you are, on any device. And never miss another wink, smile, air kiss, or eye roll.

This is gold folks. Want to see your daughter’s smiling face before Mom puts her to bed, but you can’t make it somewhere that has a Wi-Fi signal? No worries. You can FaceTime over a cellular data connection now. For no extra cost. Well, unless you’re still using AT&T, then…


iOS 6 adds new calling features to your iPhone. Now when you decline an incoming call, you can instantly reply with a text message or set a callback reminder. And when things are just too hectic, turn on Do Not Disturb and you won’t be bothered by anyone — except can’t-miss contacts like your boss or your better half.

Do Not Disturb is the feature to love here people. A good night’s sleep. And the improved call screening features, send a text message to a caller if you can’t answer? Excellent!


Redesigned with a more streamlined interface for easier reading and writing, Mail in iOS 6 lets you set up a VIP list so you’ll never miss an important message from your accountant, your boss, or your BFF. It’s even easier to add photos and videos to email messages. And to refresh your mailboxes, all you have to do is swipe down.

Swipe to refresh, music to my ears. Anyway, you know you’ve already been trying to refresh your email list like that for the last two years. Now it actually works. Being able to insert photos or videos in an email you’ve already started, that’s going to be a time saver, with a lot less “oh no!” moments. VIP email inbox, make sure you notice those emails from all the important people in your life.


iOS 6 brings even better web browsing to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. iCloud Tabs keeps track of which pages you have open on your devices, so you can start browsing on one device and pick up right where you left off on whatever device is handy. Safari now saves web pages — not just links — in your Reading List, so you can catch up on your reading even when you can’t connect to the Internet. 

And when you’re posting a photo or video to eBay, Craigslist, or another site, you can take photos and video — or choose from your Camera Roll — without leaving Safari. When you really want to see the whole picture, turn your iPhone or iPod touch to landscape and tap the full-screen icon to view web pages without distractions.

Safari is much improved this go-round. The new features listed above take Safari closer and closer to being a browser, not just a “mobile browser”. The “iCloud Tabs” feature has come in handy for me more than once during the beta.


iOS 6 comes with even more features to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities to get the most from their iOS devices. Guided Access helps students with disabilities such as autism remain on task and focused on content. It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen.

VoiceOver, the revolutionary screen reader for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom. And Apple is working with top manufacturers to introduce Made for iPhone hearing aids that will deliver a power-efficient, high-quality digital audio experience.

I’ve always been impressed with Apple’s accessibility features that are built into iOS. I worked in an Apple Store, and I got to personally see the joy on a blind man’s face when he realized he could actually use an iPad! And, the whole “Made for iPhone” hearing aid feature is going to be very important to me in just a few short years.

This is it folks, the day we’ve all been waiting for! iOS 6 is being released today, and you’re in the right spot for the best coverage of Apple’s new operating system. Be sure to keep up on the latest iOS 6 coverage by going to our “iOS 6 Launch Day Coverage” page.

Updated for iOS 6 Launch (Sept. 19, 2012)