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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.

So your movie tickets, concert tickets, sporting event tickets, boarding passes, coupons, stored value cards, and so on, will all live in Passbook. When you head into the relevant establishment or location, you can pull out Passbook, display the correct card, complete with a scannable barcode. Passes can even be time or location based, popping up a notification on your lock screen at the appropriate moment.

It's a great idea, and I have visions of how it could evolve: Imagine buying movie tickets via Siri and having them automatically show up in Passbook. But while it sounds nifty, we're going to have to see how it fares in the real world and, most importantly, what other companies decide to support it.

Call me, call me

It's tough to remember at times that the iPhone is, in fact, a phone; I must confess that it's one of the features I use the least. The Phone app gets a few minor enhancements in iOS 6, one of which is purely cosmetic: The Keypad section is now a whitish-silvery color instead of dark blue. It probably won't affect your usage that much.

The other new feature is considerably more interesting. We've all gotten a call at an inopportune moment--while we're in a meeting, for example, or in some other public space that we don't want to chat. It's long been a simple matter to mute the call or send it straight to voicemail, but we've also all probably had that moment where we realize an hour later that we've forgotten to actually return a call.

iOS 6 adds two options, both of which are hidden under a little phone icon that appears next to the Slide to Answer prompt when you receive a call. Two options--Reply with Message and Remind Me Later--are hidden underneath this icon, which you can reveal by swiping up, as with the Camera lock screen icon.

The first option lets you send back one of three quick boilerplate text messages, each prefixed with "Can't talk right now." By default, those include "I'll call you later," "I'm on my way," and "What's up." However, you can edit any or all of those to your own messages in Settings -> Phone -> Reply with Message (although your custom messages will still be preceded by "Can't talk right now.").

The second option can automatically set a reminder to call the person back; you can choose from In 1 hour, When I leave, When I get home, or When I get to work. (The last three, obviously, use geofences to determine your location; the last two will only show up if you have a corresponding address entered in Contacts.) In each case, iOS will add an entry to the Reminders app "Call back Contact Name." Even handier, that entry is actually a link--tap it and a Call dialog box will pop-up, pre-filled with your contact's number.


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