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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 of the App Store in iOS 6, however, is background installation and updating. Unlike in previous versions, where tapping Install or Update next to an app meant you were kicked back out to the Home screen and shown exactly where that app would appear, you now get to stay in the comfort of the store. Should you want to launch the app when it's been downloaded, that's easy--the Update or Install button instead becomes an Open button; tap it and the app will launch automatically.

So how to find those new apps on your Home screen? Equally easy: They still install in the first open slot. And they'll also feature a New banner on one corner, so you can quickly pick them out of a line-up.

You can now also install apps from right inside other applications. So, for example, if someone emails you a link to an app, tapping that will pop up a panel from which you can read about the app and install it.

iTunes Store Like its counterparts, the iTunes Store looks much flashier than its predecessor. Instead of the gray pinstripe background and blue toolbar, the app features the same attractive black and gray theme as the other two stores. A carousel on the front page automatically swaps through featured items, and you can manually swipe through if you'd prefer.

Likewise, albums and singles now stretch off the screen, allowing you to scroll through them. Tapping on any album brings up a list of tracks, as well as tabs for reviews and related items that others have purchased. You can, of course, tap any track to preview it and, in a nice addition, that preview continues to play in the background even as you continue browsing. On the iPad, a little window pops up, letting you pause the preview or purchase the song--on the iPhone, this appears as a little pane at the top of the screen.

If you can't remember what song you were listening to earlier, the store now features a preview history. Tap the button with three lines in the top right of the menu bar, and you'll get a tappable history of songs you've previewed, along with--unsurprisingly--links to buy the song. That history is automatically synced among all your devices, but you can erase it at any time by tapping the Clear button.

TV Shows, Movies, and Audiobooks all work similarly, and items that you preview there will also show up in your preview history. Access to your previously purchased items on the Purchased tab is easier now, thanks to a drop-down menu that lets you sort by name, what you've bought most recently, or other criteria depending on the type of media.


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