The new software update Apple has dropped for iOS users serves up quite a bit of improvements and new features to our compatible devices, with the iPhone 4S having the closest software experience before the iPhone 5 arrives. Let me show you some of my favourite features.
Do Not Disturb
I am one who never liked being bashed awake by a phone call or a notification buzz in the middle of the night. Before iOS 6, the solution would be to flip the iPhone to Airplane Mode and leave Wi-Fi on, so only iMessages and emails can come in. With iOS 6, the new Do Not Disturb feature allows you to silence all incoming calls and notifications when it is turned on, displaying a crescent moon symbol on the status bar.
You can also schedule it to do so automatically during your bedtime hours. If you don’t want to miss really important calls, you can also set your contacts of a certain group to not be blacklisted during DND hours or allow a second call from the same contact within a span of three minutes to come through.
Tweets and Facebook Status Updates
With Twitter integration on iOS 5 and the new Facebook integration feature on iOS 6, you can now tweet or send a Facebook status update directly from Notification Centre by dragging it down and tapping the respective buttons. You can also leave it to Siri to tweet for you by calling Siri up and going “Tweet (your tweet)”, though that is subject to Siri’s coherence with what you’re saying.
Alert Tones for Individual Email Accounts
This one is buried in the settings for Notification Centre. Going to the Notification settings for Mail will allow you to set different alert tones for each of your email accounts. Useful when you want to respond quickly to an email from work instead of one from your cousin John.
Reply with Message
Say you get a call, but you can’t answer or text whoever’s calling that you’ll call him back later. iOS 6 has got that covered. This new feature give you the option to send a text back informing them you can’t pick up their call and why. You can customise these little messages under the Settings > Phone > Reply with Message.
Game Centre Challenges
Game Centre in iOS 6 now allows you to send challenges to earn an achievement or beat your score on Game Centre enabled games from the App Store. Game Centre will even send you a notification when that Challenge is met, so you’ll know when to get off your high throne and get back to grinding for that new high score.
Panorama (iPhone 4S and up)
The new Panorama feature allows you to stitch panoramic photos on the Camera app. iOS 6 will need your steady hands for this and indicates to your level of stability with an arrow on a flat line, so taking a panorama is as easy as singing vocals on Rock Band. There have been plenty of apps that makes this process much easier than Apple’s way, but this one’s free, so let’s give them a chance.
Some iOS devices have been capable of speech for some time now, and the ability to select text for speech is a feature usually meant for the visually-impaired. iOS 6 still has that, but with a whole lot more languages, including Japanese, Korean and Chinese in Mandarin and Cantonese dialects.
These nifty little features are what’s making me turn a blind eye towards Apple’s new brand of maps, which is limited to its usefulness when searching for things locally. The software update is now available from Apple through iTunes or over-the-air through your iOS 5-enabled device.