Apple has released iOS 6 for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad models that support the company’s latest mobile operating system. It’s available for download through iTunes, or you can download the update directly on your mobile device running iOS 6 or later by going into the “Software Update” section in the General Settings.

iOS 6

So what exactly is new in iOS 6? A whole lot. But here are some of the highlights:

  • Apple has dropped Google Maps and replaced it with a new Apple Maps app that offers free turn-by-turn voice navigation.
  • Siri voice assistant can now provide sports scores and movie showtimes, help you make restaurant reservations, send Tweets, or post on Facebook.
  • Facebook is integrated at the system level, enabling single sign-on, and letting you post from Photos, Safari, Maps, or other apps.
  • You can make FaceTime calls over cellular networks on supported devices (if your carrier will let you).
  • You can receive FaceTime calls to your phone number on an iPod touch or iPad.
  • Suppress incoming calls and notices with a new “Do Not Disturb” option.
  • Share photos from your Photo Stream with friends.
  • Take panoramic photos.
  • The new Passbook app is a place to store boarding passes, movie tickets, store cards and other items.
  • Enter locations manually for the Reminders app.
  • There are new mailbox views including VIP mailbox and flagged email box, and you can now open password-protected Office docs from email.
  • You can synchronize open web pages across all your devices with iCloud, and access an offline reading list on your mobile device.
  • The App Store and iTunes store have been redesigned and you can now choose “complete my album” and “complete my season” options for purchases.

Apple also offers new keyboard layouts for more languages, and some China-only options like Baidu web search, Weibo integration, and the ability to share videos to Tudou or Youku.

Not all of the changes are necessarily going to be good news for all users. Apple’s Maps  app, for instance, doesn’t offer public transit directions, something which Google Maps offered. Instead, Maps will look for 3rd party transit apps on your system.

Directions also aren’t available in as many regions, at least not yet.

And not all of the new features are available on all iOS devices. In order to use iOS 6 at all, you’ll need an iPhone 3GS or newer, a 4th gen or later iPod touch, or any iPad 2 or 2012 iPad.

Siri still isn’t available for anything older than an iPhone 4. Panoramic Photos require an iPhone 4S or newer device. Turn-by-turn navigation and the Flyover photographic views in Maps also requires an iPhone 4S or newer device.

In fact, the list of features which aren’t available for the 4th generation iPod touch is almost as long as the list of features that is, including Siri, offline reading lists, reminders, and panoramic photos.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...