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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.

While it's easily accessible in Safari on the Mac and iPad, it's squirreled away a little bit in the iPhone's browser: You need to tap the bookmarks icon in the tool bar and find it in the top-level bookmark list. The list that shows up is divided up by device, and tapping any bookmark will load it in the frontmost browser tab.

Web inspector One of the best features of Safari in iOS 6 and it's buried miles deep: Settings -> Safari -> Advanced. Flip on Web Inspector and connect your iPad or iPhone to your Mac and you can use the desktop browser's Web Inspector to tweak settings on the Web page you're looking at on your iPad. As you change elements using the Web Inspector on the desktop, those changes will be reflected immediately on your mobile device. It's impressive to see in action, and it'll likely be a boon to Web developers who fret over compatibility with the latest devices.

Other improvements In addition, just as you can tap and hold on the new message icon in Mail, if you tap and hold on the back or forward button in Safari, you get quick access to your browsing history for that tab (or your browsing "future").

Finally--and, yes, I do mean "finally"--Safari now has the ability to upload images to websites. When I spent a few days working from my iPad earlier this year, one of the problems I ran into was uploading a profile picture to a website: Simply put, it could not be done. Now, though, it's easy enough: Tap any button for uploading a picture and you'll get an option to either take a photo or video or choose an existing image from your photo library. Of course, rich HTML tools for editing, resizing, or cropping pictures may or may not work correctly.

The iPad and iPhone versions of Safari each get their own improvements in iOS 6. In the iPhone version, you can now summon a full-screen mode in landscape by tapping the arrow buttons that appear when you tilt the phone sideways. That'll make the content of the browser window take up the fullscreen--the URL bar slides up out of sight (though you can get it back by swiping down) and the bottom toolbar goes away completely, although the back and forward buttons continue to appear, when relevant, as translucent overlays. To undo the full-screen mode tap the arrow buttons again, or just turn the phone back to portrait. It's a pleasant enough feature, but given the small size of the iPhone's screen--at least, pre-iPhone 5--I'm not sure how much real estate it really buys you.


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