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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.)

The Restrictions screen no longer includes an option to allow YouTube, since iOS 6 no longer includes the YouTube app. However, it gains such an option for the iBookstore, and there's also a new Books option under Allowed content that lets you choose whether or not to allow books with explicit sexual content. The Allow Changes options now include one for locking the phone's volume limit (previously located in Settings -> Music -> Volume Limit), and the Location item has been moved into a new Privacy section that mirrors the options in the new top-level Privacy settings; for each type of data, you can choose whether or not to allow changes, as well as decide which apps have access to that data. (You can change many of these settings in the top-level Privacy, Twitter, and Facebook screens, though you can't access those screens if restrictions on them are enabled.)

Changes in the International screen include a slew of additional languages for Siri, including several dialects of Chinese, Canadian English, Italian, Korean, and Spanish (Mexico, U.S., and Spain). There are also a couple additional keyboard options, including Canadian and Australian English, and a few new region formats.

The Shortcuts capability added in iOS 5 has been revamped in iOS 6; it now has its own sub-menu, with a more user-friendly catalog of entries that resembles the Contacts list, and it's now searchable.

The biggest new feature in the Accessibility screen is Guided Access mode. When enabled, Guided Access keeps the iOS device in the current app and lets you control which features are available. To activate Guided Access for an app, you just triple-press the Home button; this enters a setup mode where you draw circles around each area on the screen you don't want to be accessible--for example, a Settings button. Tap Options to disable touch or the device's accelerometer (hardware buttons are always disabled when Guided Access is activated). Click Start and the app is protected. To exit Guided Access, you again triple-press the Home button and then enter your Guided Access passcode. Though intended to help those with accessibility difficulties, this feature is also useful for parents looking to limit their iOS device to a single app and to restrict access to particular features.

New in the Accessibility screen on iPhones is a Hearing Aids option that lets you connect to a compatible hearing aid; a new Hearing Aid mode improves audio quality when used with a hearing aid. On all devices, there's also an additional Rotor option (under VoiceOver) for Punctuation, and the White On Black setting is now more accurately called Invert Colors. In a small, but welcome, addition, the slider that controls the volume balance between the left and right channels now has a mark indicating the center.


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