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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 routing worked fine in the only app I had available to test, Embark iBART, it won't give you the exact same experience as you had under iOS 5. For example, Embark iBART provided me with a timetable of which trains I could catch, but it wouldn't tell me how far I would have to walk from my current destination to make it to the train station, nor would it tell me how far I'd have to walk from the destination stop to my final goal.

This is an odd solution for Apple, which usually prides itself on providing a consistent experience. But I suspect that handling public transit directions simply wasn't an option for Apple at this point, and if it came down to offering a third-party experience versus no feature at all, Apple opted to not leave its users completely high-and-dry. Speaking from my own experience, I'd long switched over to a third-party app specifically for public transit in my local city, so I'm not sure how much Maps's change will affect me.

I'm certain that Apple's mapping will only improve from here; for a company's first foray into a hotly contested and complicated field, iOS 6's maps and turn-by-turn directions are remarkably good.

That sounds like a lot of qualification, so let's revisit our question from up top: Does iOS succeed in replacing your standalone GPS device?

In a word: Maybe. In two words: Sort of. If you already have a standalone GPS unit or an iOS GPS app that you really like, I'm not going to tell you to throw it out or banish it from your device. But neither am I going to tell you to go out and buy a GPS device because iOS 6 just doesn't cut the mustard.

Talk to me

Siri was the marquee feature of the iPhone 4S, and while the voice-activated virtual assistant technically remains in beta, in iOS 6 it debuts on the latest-generation iPad; later this fall, it'll come to the fifth-generation iPod touch. In addition to all its old tricks, Siri picks up a few new capabilities in iOS 6. Apple, in particular, has been focusing attention on three areas: sports, movies, and restaurants.

Sports If you're the kind of person who always needs to be plugged into the latest sports scores, you probably have plenty of apps on your iOS device already. But now those answers are just a question away: You can ask Siri who won last night's game, what the score is for tonight's matchup, when the next game is coming up, or the current standings.

Siri knows about players, too. So if you're wondering whether Derek Jeter or David Ortiz has more home runs this season, Siri can tell you. It can also tell you who has the highest batting average in the league, as well as a variety of other stats, including height and age. These stats are for just the current season; if you're looking for all-time leaders, you're better off consulting Wolfram Alpha.

 

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