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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.

Like apps, you can buy media directly from other apps, so if someone sends you a link to an album, TV show, or song, you can tap it to bring up a panel from which you can preview it and purchase it if you like.

iBookstore The iBookstore also gets a handsome makeover with the new black/gray color scheme, swipeable carousels, and multiple tabs for details, reviews and ratings, and related items (sub-divided into offerings from the same author as well as on similar topics). And, of course, like the other stores, there is support for sharing books by Mail, Messages, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as copying the URL. You'll also find the same support for previewing and purchasing books from within other apps, if you tap on a link to the iBookstore.

The times they are a'changin'

As with most iOS updates, Apple has tweaked a few bolts here, tightened a few corners there, and generally given its mobile OS a coat of polish. Here are some of the more noticeable changes and improvements.

Reminders I gave Reminders short shrift in my iOS 5 review, primarily because the app felt decidedly unfinished. That's been largely rectified in iOS 6: The interface for setting a reminder is decidedly streamlined and requires fewer taps, priorities actually show up in the interface, and glory be, you can set a location-based reminder for an arbitrary address. Add in some nice tweaks and simplifications on the interface--including an integrated calendar on the iPhone--and Reminder in iOS 6 is what it should have been in iOS 5.

Stocks and Weather Both get a subtle interface tweak in iOS 6 to get with the times. The former now provides more news at a glance and the former gains a less hefty, more streamlined look, thanks to a lighter weight font. Also, Local Weather is active by default, unless you deactivate it in Location Services.

Clock What, improvements to the Clock app? Indeed! The app can now wake you up to any song from your Library, an excellent feature that's been missing for far too long. There's also a better interface for picking which cities you want to monitor time for--previously you could only search. The iPad, meanwhile, gets the Clock app for the first time, including a nice world map that gives you temperature and current weather for all the locations of the clocks you add. I quite like the bizarre grid-based Alarm screen, but I find the stopwatch and the timer a bit lackluster, though functional.

Contacts The search field is now always visible in list mode, which is useful when you're trying to filter down your results. Groups has now changed to a filter-based system; instead of choosing a group to view the members of that particular group, you check off only the groups whose members you want displayed in your full listing. That's a good way to whittle down your contact list--make a group called Old Contacts and stick the people you don't hear from in there.


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