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Refined iOS 6 highlighted by stunning Maps overhaul

Dan Moren | Sept. 20, 2012
Following on the heels of the massive update that was iOS 5, iOS 6 might seem like merely a modest update. But that doesn't make it insignificant by any means: A key app has received a substantial overhaul in this latest update, Apple has added an intriguing new--if yet unproven--built-in app, and the company has even, for the first time, removed a piece of software present since the iPhone's launch.

The best feature for Do Not Disturb, however, is the ability to schedule it. Tap the Scheduled switch to enable it and you can set times at which Do Not Disturb is automatically activated and deactivated--for example, midnight through 8:30 a.m. Unfortunately, the schedule is one-day-fits-all, so if you want a different time window for your weekends vs. your weekdays, you're out of luck.

It's worth noting that your notifications are not lost when your phone is in Do Not Disturb mode--they just accumulate silently, much like paperwork on your desk. You can still find them in Notification Center.

Priority mail

Mail is probably the most frequently updated iOS app--not a major release of iOS comes without some sort of change. In iOS 6, however, it appears to have fairly few changes compared to previous versions.

VIPs The most prominent alteration in Mail is the addition of the VIP feature that arrived with Mountain Lion. There are certain folks that you always want to see emails from, and VIP lets you demarcate them. To add someone to your VIPs, tap the blue arrow next to the VIP mailbox that shows up in the main screen of Mail, then tap Add VIP; you'll be prompted to choose a contact. (You can remove them by swiping one and tapping delete or by tapping Edit and going through the delete-toggle-tap-Delete dance.)

Once you've designated someone a VIP, you'll see a blue star appear next any new messages from them; once you've read the message, that blue star will turn into a hollow gray one. Note that you don't need to specify a specific email address for VIP; any address that's in the Contacts entry for your VIP will be so flagged. Also, thanks to iCloud, your VIPs are synced among all your devices running either iOS 6 or Mountain Lion, so you only need to mark someone as a VIP once.

VIP messages have two other special behaviors: Firstly, they're all collected into a VIP smart mailbox at the top level of Mail. Secondly, you can set up Notifications for Mail that only trigger for VIPs. You can configure those VIP-specific notifications in Settings -> Notifications -> Mail -> VIP. (There's also a shortcut from the screen where you edit your VIPs.) As with any other app, you can choose to have banners, alerts, or no message, as well as a sound, a badge on the Mail app, and a preview of the message content in the lock screen notification.

If you happen to be someone who gets a lot of email, you've probably long ago disabled notifications for new emails. The introduction of VIPs marks the first time I've turned notifications on for emails since the original iPhone. It's a helpful addition, though I do admit that I miss one of Mountain Lion Mail's extensions of it: the ability to get a notification for any email sent by someone in your contacts.


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