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Hands on with iOS 6: Settings

Dan Frakes | Sept. 21, 2012
Many changes in iOS 6 are squirreled away in the Settings app--if, like most users, you don't delve into Settings, you'll miss some great new features. Here's a look at the changes to this important-but-overlooked app, organized in the order the sections appear on the Settings screen. (Though the screenshots here show an iPhone, I describe changes for all iOS devices.)

Many changes in iOS 6 are squirreled away in the Settings app--if, like most users, you don't delve into Settings, you'll miss some great new features. Here's a look at the changes to this important-but-overlooked app, organized in the order the sections appear on the Settings screen. (Though the screenshots here show an iPhone, I describe changes for all iOS devices.)

Minor reorganization As often happens with major updates to iOS, Apple has reordered a number of top-level settings items. For example, Twitter has been into a new group with the new Facebook item, and Notes has moved lower in the Settings screen.

New top-level items In a welcome change for many users, Bluetooth is now a top-level item in the Setting screen, grouped with Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi, for easier access. In addition, while you'll still need to use this Bluetooth item to pair headsets, speakers, and similar accessories, apps that use particular Bluetooth devices--for example, fitness apps that connect to a Bluetooth 4.0 heart-rate monitor--can now let you pair with those devices directly from within the app, without requiring a visit to the Settings app.

Reminders is also now a top-level item, providing the same options (which items to sync, and choosing a default list) as it did within the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen in iOS 5.

Notifications and Do Not Disturb The Notifications item is now grouped with a new Do Not Disturb setting that silences notifications and incoming phone calls--or, in the case of an iPad or iPod touch, FaceTime calls. (When Do Not Disturb is enabled, a moon icon appears in the status bar.)

Though you can manually enable Do Not Disturb mode here, a number of useful options are found in a new Do Not Disturb screen accessed within Notifications. Here you can choose specific contacts (or groups of contacts) whose calls won't be silenced, and you can enable the Repeated Calls option, which bypasses Do Not Disturb mode if the same person calls twice within three minutes. The Repeated Calls option is useful if, or example, someone is trying to reach you because of an emergency. Finally, you can schedule Do Not Disturb to turn on and off at specific times, such as on at 11:00pm and off at 7:30am.

Some users also get new settings in the Notifications screen--at the bottom, grouped under Government Alerts--for enabling or disabling AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts. In our testing in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sprint and Verizon users see these settings, while AT&T users do not. However, the availability of these settings also appear to depend on your location: Responses to an informal poll of Twitter users indicate that Verizon users in some parts of the country get the settings, but those in other locations do not.

 

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