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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.

Also, in addition to a custom vibration pattern for phone calls, you can now add a custom vibration for text message on a per-contact basis, so you can tell who's texting without pulling out the phone.

YouTube The YouTube app is, of course, an ex-app, pining for the fjords. That's good all around: It was getting a bit long in the tooth, and it didn't quite fit in anymore. Google's own YouTube app is a solid replacement and, even if you don't want to go download it, playing videos back in Safari works just fine for the most part.

Settings the record straight

The Settings app often goes unrecognized, but it's the app that keeps iOS running smoothly, and it gets a few welcome alterations in iOS 6.

Bluetooth becomes a top level option, which will receive an ovation from all of us who've had to spend too much of our lives tapping three levels down just to pair our headsets. On the iPad, Sounds also moves up from General (though it was already at the top level on the iPhone). The iPhone version of Sounds also gets a much clearer set of vibrate options, which will please those who found the previous labeling somewhat obtuse.

Location Services, meanwhile, gets demoted from the top level into a new Privacy section, which may very well be one of the unsung heroes of this update. Not only do you still have granular access to apps requesting your location, but you can now manage which apps get access to your Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos, Bluetooth Sharing, Twitter, and Facebook. So if a particular app is misbehaving--or you've download an app but aren't quite sure if you can trust it--you can shut off access. A solid thumbs up, especially since it seems every week there's yet another privacy scandal online.

According to Apple, it's simplified receiving iMessages on multiple devices, so you should be able to set a single contact ID from which all messages will emanate, thus no longer running into the problem of receiving an iMessage addressed to your phone number, which never makes it to your iPad.

For those on a data plan budget, the General -> Cellular section lets you specify which features can use Cellular Data. So, for example, you can allow Reading List and Passbook Updates while denying iCloud Documents and iTunes.

Also the Shortcuts section of the General -> Keyboard settings gets a much more functional overhaul, complete with a search field and the ability to quickly scroll through your expansion options.

Reminders and Newsstand get their own sections in Settings, but unfortunately you still can't turn the latter feature off, much to the dismay of those of us who would like it off, off, off our Home screens.


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