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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.

Once you've set up Facebook, you have some options. For one thing, you can choose which apps can access your Facebook account--by default, they include the App Store, Calendar, and Contacts, but other apps can request information as well, which it's up to you to allow or deny.

You can also choose to update your contact records with their respective information from Facebook. Be careful before choosing that option. My colleague Lex Friedman, who is more daring than I, ended up having his contacts' email addresses added to the contact records. In addition, you could also end up with a Facebook Friends' Birthdays calendar, which may lead to many more alerts than you'd wanted about great-aunt Mildred's pending 87th. On the upside, that information should stay in sync, which means that if your friend changes their phone number, that change will be reflected in your Contacts, which can be handy.

When posting to Facebook from Photos or updating your status via Notification Center, you'll have the option to choose which groups you want to post your message to, as well as add your location. (In my quick test, it only gave me nearby known locations, as opposed to iOS's Twitter implementation, which actually gives your exact location.) And, of course, you can have Siri post to Facebook for you.

Finally, you'll now find an integrated Like button under the Reviews tab in the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore, so you can share your tastes in media with the world.

Music to your ears

The Music app isn't a focus of iOS 6, but it has gotten a cosmetic update on the iPhone, as well as some slight feature changes.

Most striking is the change in color scheme on the iPhone: The formerly white-on-black interface is now a silvery-white, more strongly resembling its iPad counterpart. The playback screen also looks more sleek, with silver aluminum highlights instead of white, and an orange selection color that replaces aqua blue. And the AirPlay control has moved down next to the volume slider, rather than its old position next to the forward button.

Podcasts and iTunes U are no longer present as category options in the More section--they've both been shipped out to their own respective apps. When playing audiobooks, you now have the option of skipping 15 seconds forward or back, instead of just 30 seconds back. And when viewing albums or artists, the iCloud download option is now at the top, instead of the bottom.

The other major different in iOS 6 concerns iTunes Match users: You can no longer download or delete individual tracks from your music library. Previously, when you activated iTunes Match, download buttons would appear next to each track--if you tapped that, or if you played the track back, it would be download to your device so that it wouldn't have to be redownloaded next time you played it, thus potentially saving you bandwidth. While that caching behavior seems to be intact in iOS 6, you no longer have the individual download buttons or the ability to swipe a track and delete it, thus freeing up space.


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