iOS 6 is the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. This software provides the experience users enjoy on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and this year it’s on for a major overhaul.
Apple first announced iOS 6 this summer and I’ve used it on my iPhone and iPad for the last few months. Apple promises a fall iOS 6 release date, and now that we’ve hit September we think we know when iOS 6 will arrive for all users.
IOS 6 offers a number of new features for the iPhone and iPad, including easier sharing, settings to control notifications, a better version of Siri and much, much more.
Users who can’t upgrade to the iPhone 5 on release day can install iOS 6 and breathe new life into their old iPhone, even the iPhone 3GS is supported with some restrictions.
Thanks to my time with iOS 6 on the iPhone 4S and the new iPad I’m excited to see this the iOS 6 release date arrive and bring these new features to all iPhone and iPad users.
iOS 6 Release Date
Apple has not announced the iOS 6 release date as a specific date, but with invitations for the September 12th launch event and the iPhone 5 release date is September 21st, we have a good idea when users can install iOS 6.
The iOS 6 release date is September 19th.
The new iPhone will ship with iOS 6 pre-installed so users can enjoy the latest software right out of the box. Apple typically releases new versions of iOS two to three days before the new iPhone release date.
iOS 6 will arrive before the iPhone 5 so Apple can handle any customer support issues from the upgrade before new iPhone activations and other support questions arrive with the release of a new iPhone.
- iOS 3 released on June 17th, two days ahead of the iPhone 3GS
- iOS 4 released on June 21st, three days before the iPhone 4
- iOS 5 released on October 12th, two days before the iPhone 4S
Updating to iOS 6 is an easy task for anyone using an iPhone or iPad with iOS 5, as the update should arrive as a download right on the phone.
iOS 6 Features
Apple packs in over 200 new features into iOS 6, but most of these are behind the scenes changes user won’t notice every day. There are at least 40 new iOS 6 features you’ll care about. Of these 40 features, there are 10 to 15 that will change how you use your iPhone and iPad with iOS 6.
The iOS 6 features video above shows off my favorite iOS 6 features which are described in more detail below.
Apple Maps & Turn-by-Turn Navigation
Apple finally includes turn by turn voice guided navigation on the iPhone. This feature is only available for the iPhone 4S and the upcoming iPhone 5. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS will still see the new Apple Maps app, but without the latest versions of the iPhone users can’t brag about a better GPS solution.
The turn-by-turn voice navigation in iOS 6 is able to compete with Google Maps on Android, though the beta isn’t perfect. Like Google Maps, Apple is missing some information on streets and will occasionally have trouble with identifying the right exit to take a crowded interchange. I wish the app would allow me to peak ahead as exits approach, instead of locking me to the current position.
Still, the new Maps app in iOS 6 is a much-needed upgrade and will be one of your favorite features. The app includes driving and walking directions, and should support third-party apps for public transportation directions
Siri in iOS 6
iOS 6 delivers a number of big improvements to Siri. While Siri still isn’t perfect, the service offers more control over the iPhone and the iPad.
Read: Hands on With Siri
In iOS 6, Siri can check sports scores, stats and more, making it easy to keep track of a team. Siri can also look up movie times and pull up movie trailers.
Users who love Siri’s ability to read text messages will be happy to know that the service can also read notifications. In the betas it isn’t perfect, but it should be able to read off updates that hit the Notification Center.
In addition to reading notifications, Siri can also tweet and post to Facebook without any tricks. Siri can also find restaurant reservations with OpenTable.
The app integration isn’t to the point where I can ask Siri to play a Pandora station, but I can use Siri to open iPhone apps by name.
One nice touch is the ability to toggle Bluetooth on and off for Siri from the Siri pop up. This makes using Siri when a Bluetooth headset is across the room much easier.
Siri is now available on the iPad 3rd generation with all the same features, even on the WiFi only iPad. I’m using Siri more often on my iPad after a few weeks, and the service works well, especially at home where I use the iPad as a second screen while watching TV.
Passbook is a new app for OS 6 that Apple designed for users to keep all kinds of information for shopping, travel and entertainment. It doesn’t look like users will be able to make payments with Passbook, but that doesn’t mean iPhone owners won’t find it useful.
Passbook will be able to hold movie tickets and airline travel information, some airlines are already to use Passbook. In this case the iPhone detected the user was checking in and offered to add her travel to Passbook so she could find it easily.
Passbook can also hold gift cards, reward cards, coupons and other types of information so users can quickly access them on the go.
FaceTime Over Cellular
In iOS 6 users are no longer tied to FaceTime on WIFi. The new version of iOS lets users make FaceTime calls over cellular connections, which means 3G and 4G LTE. This is an amazing feature for users who want to videochat wherever they are.
Unfortunately, AT&T will only allow users to use FaceTime over cellular with the new Mobile Share plans. Verizon won’t comment on the use of FaceTime over cellular. Sprint will offer it for all iPhone owners.
Better, Easier Sharing
In iOS 6 it’s easier to share files, status updates and photos thanks to small, but incredibly useful additions.
The Notification Center now features Tap to Tweet and Tap to Post buttons that allow users to quickly update social networks without opening up an app. A nice way to send a fast update when I can’t use Siri.
Sharing photos is easier with Shared PhotoStreams. This allows me to share a select group of photos with another user, and I can add more photos that they can see in the PhotoStream. Nice way to share photos of a kid with family members.
Another awesome addition is the new sharing menu. When users press the share button in Safari and other apps, iOS now offers a bigger menu with more options. It’s easy to copy a link to paste somewhere else or to print a page. Links and photos can also be posted to Twitter and Facebook.
iOS 5 brought Twitter integration to the iPhone and iPad, and in iOS 6 Facebook arrives. With Facebook integration it’s easier to share information and pull down contact information to the iPhone and iPad.
One downside is the integration puts @facebook email address in almost every contact and int he beta it keeps adding Friend’s birthdays to my calendar as all day events, which means Siri is always telling me my day is busy and the Notification Center is jammed as well.
Smarter Phone App
In iOS 6, the phone app is now smarter, allowing users to reply with a message or set a reminder to call later. This is handy when I’m on my way somewhere and I’m almost there, or if I just need to call someone back later.
Users can customize the reply messages in the Phone app settings.
Do Not Disturb
Users sick of being woken by late night notifications will be happy to see the the new Do Not Disturb setting. The new setting lets users automatically turn Do Not Disturb on and off at set times.
While the setting is turned on calls, texts and notifications won’t trigger a sound. Users can set favorites that get through and allow a second consecutive call to ring in order to avoid missing emergencies.
Safari Syncing & Mail VIPS
Safari gains a new feature that syncs tabs between Safari on the iPhone, iPad and on Apple computers. This makes it easy to open webpages from one device to another without emailing or saving a link.
Mail VIPS allows users to trigger a specific sound and Notification for emails from important senders. I use this for the very few emails I need to see immediately and it works great. If only it tied into Gmail’s Priority Inbox.
Apple also includes many other great features in iOS 6 including. Some of our favorite extra features are below.
- Cleaner looking app store that may not require a password for updates and free apps.
- Set Music as an alarm in the Alarms app.
- Protocol to handle sending alerts to smart watches and other devices.
- Send a phone number to a lost iPhone to reunite with the phone.
- Full-screen Safari in landscape.
- Made for iPhone hearing aid support.
We also believe Apple will announce some special new feature for the iPhone 5 as part of iOS 6. Apple shared a redacted iOS 6 feature with select developers at WWDC 2012, but no details are available yet.
Which iPhones, iPads and iPods will run iOS 6?
Apple is offering iOS 6 on the new iPhone 5 and on a large number of older iPhone devices. Not all of the devices will receive every feature, but it’s a nice gesture and something that will make some Android users jealous.
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 3GS
- iPod Touch 4th Generation
- iPad 2
- New iPad
Here’s a video of iOS 6 on the iPhone 3GS, showing performance and features.