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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.

There's also now the ability to reorder mailboxes on the top level of Mail, so if you have a specific, neurotic order that you like those in--I'm not speaking from experience or anything--then that'll be a plus. Also, for accounts which have both delete and archive options, you can tap the Delete (or Archive) button in a mail message, and you'll get a pop-up option for which action you want to take.

No doubt, some will be saddened that Apple has removed one configuration option: In the Mail, Contacts, Calendars pane of Settings, you can no longer set a minimum font size.

Finally, Apple's taken a page from the book of many third-party developers and implemented a pull-to-refresh mechanic for Mail, which replaces the old Refresh button that you could tap. Weirdly, Apple has done this in a way that's slightly different from how it's usually accomplished--pull down on the screen and you'll see a little blob that stretches out, as though you were pulling on Silly Putty. When the blob reaches the breaking point, it snaps back up and starts refreshing. The effect is vaguely unsettling, though I suppose it works all right. You can perform this maneuver on any of your inboxes, or from the unified inbox on Mail's top screen.

Jungle Safari

iOS's other marquee app is, of course, its Web browser. Like Mail, Safari's improvements are fairly modest in iOS 6, though there are a couple of additions that bring an extra dimension of functionality.

Reading List The Reading List feature Apple introduced in iOS 5 gets an upgrade here. No longer just a way of shuttling links back and forth, it now also caches the links you add to it for offline reading. So if you are reading, for example, a very long review of a mobile operating system platform, you can add it to your Reading List and still access it while you're on a plane, the subway, or inside your lead-lined panic room. This works for any item in your Reading List, regardless of read/unread status. However, if my Reading List is any indication, it's worth noting that publishers can opt not to make their content available for offline reading.

iCloud Tabs It's a good thing Apple added that feature to Reading List, because otherwise iCloud Tabs might have rendered it largely obsolete. One of my favorite new features of iOS 6, iCloud Tabs lets you bring up a list of every open tab in Safari on any iOS device or Mac that's logged into your iCloud account. So if you realize that you left a crucial page open on your browser at home--directions to your cousin's new house, for example--you can pull it up in a few seconds.


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