With the multitude of features that our smartphones provide, it is sometimes easy to forget that these devices are first and foremost phones. In that respect Apple has actually added a few nice features to the phone app.
With iOS 6 users will be able to reply to incoming calls with a text message or ask to receive a reminder about the call later. To enact these features all users have to do is pull out a small tab that appears when they have an incoming call and select the option desired. Quick and easy, these simple features prove to be the perfect way to respond to callers without having to fidget with your phone to either set a reminder or send out a responding text message yourself.
Another useful addition is the "Do Not Disturb" option that blocks incoming calls while allowing alerts and texts through. Users will also be able to filter call groups and enable an option that will allow only the second call through if the same person calls twice within three minutes. This option is perfect for users who sleep near their phone, or people who just need to get away for a little while.
Besides loading new messages much faster, iOS 6 adds a VIP option as well as the ability to share photos and video via email. The VIP option allows users to designate certain contacts as Very Important People. Messages from anyone in this group trigger a notification, and appear in a separate designated folder, making them easy to access. This is a simple function, but it's extremely useful as it can make keeping track of important emails exponentially simpler.
Apple has also admitted that it's finally time to allow users to easily send photos and videos to one another through emails. Fairly simple, all users have to do is use the same two-finger mechanic they would to paste some text into an email, then select the insert picture and video option, and choose the desired object to place it into the email. There's no question that Apple was way past due for this feature, but at least it was fluidly implemented into its email system.
Honestly I have not had the time needed to give my full appraisal of FaceTime over cellular networks though there are a few things people should consider before going on a face-to-face phone feast. As two-way streaming video uses a lot of bandwidth, it's still uncertain how well FaceTime calls will hold up over 3G networks, especially when that was the initial reason Apple gave for originally restricting FaceTime to Wi-Fi connections. But 4G LTE connections should work like a charm.
Additionally FaceTime can become quite the pricey commodity in an industry where unlimited data contracts are quickly disappearing.
Finally iOS 6 offers a few new features for Safari as well. Users will be able to view web pages full screen in landscape mode, and cache their web history saving it for reading later when offline.
iCloud Tabs also allow users to continue their web browsing experience on a multitude of devices. For instance users will be able to start browsing on their iPhone and then continue browsing later on their MacBook (Mountain Lion required) with the simple press of a button.
A new app that makes its debut in iOS 6 is Passbook. The new app looks to allow users to access electronic versions of their admission tickets, boarding passes and coupons. Unfortunately, this is so new that I have not yet gotten a chance to try out the app for myself, but conceptually it seems like a great idea, as it will the information safe and organized while simultaneously alerting users to updates such as a flight delay or gate change.
While the concept seems fine, its real value will ultimately be determined by how many stores and venues this app will be compatible with.
The biggest problem with iOS 6 is that a large majority of the new features are only offered on Apple's newest devices. As far as smartphones are concerned, only the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will be able to use all of the features offered in iOS 6. The iPhone 4 will not have access to Siri, Flyover, voice navigation, or FaceTime over cellular (even though the feature debuted on this device). The iPhone 3GS also will not receive any of those features, but it will also not receive support for offline reading lists either.
Even worse, though, is the possibility for incompatibility between your device and computer. When a mobile device downloads iOS 6, users will need their computers to be able to run iTunes 10 if they want to be able to sync their mobile device. Thus, before you download iOS 6 make sure your computer can download iTunes 10.
Although iOS 6 isn't going to entice you with a wide facet of unique features that you can't get anywhere else, it does promise a serviceable upgrade that adds a greater level of utility to your mobile device. In fact, it actually mirrors much of Apple's philosophy. iOS 6 may not be the first to offer these features, it may not deliver them in the best possible form, but it delivers them in a clean well-presented package that is easy to use.
The iOS 6 is exactly what you want from an OS upgrade. It may not be flashy, or offer many new bells and whistles, but it makes the Apple products that you already own that much more enjoyable to use. Honestly most of the new features will go unnoticed by a lot of people, but the overall impact of the iOS 6 will be a smoother quality experience, and that is what really matters.
Considering that this is a free upgrade that in almost all instances makes your iPhone better, there is really no reason not to download it. The only instance in which downloading this would be a hindrance is if your Mac is unable to run iTunes 10. However if you are able to run the latest version of this desktop software by all means do yourself a favor and download iOS 6.
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