Apple boasts over 200 new features, but the biggest additions are:
- New Maps – Apple has removed Google Maps as the default mapping software and replaced it with its own version. Spoken, turn-by-turn GPS directions and the new 3D “Flyover” imagery are among the highlights.
- Siri Update – Apple’s voice assistant can now launch apps, post updates to Facebook and Twitter, and is more closely integrated with third-party services.
- Facebook – You can now post status updates from directly within certain apps, and Facebook events and contacts are now integrated with the Contacts and Calendar apps.
- Photo Sharing – You can share your photos instantly with a select group of people, visible from their own Apple devices or via the web.
- Passbook – This app stores your loyalty cards, stored-value cards and travel tickets for participating vendors. It’s time- and location-based, too, so your Starbucks card will pop up when you walk into a Starbucks, for instance.
- Panoramic Photos – The Camera app now features a panorama mode for capturing 240-degree images. You take a series of photos and the software stitches them together.
- FaceTime Over Cellular – Formerly Wi-Fi-only, the FaceTime video-chat app now works over cellular networks if your carrier supports it.
- Phone Features – Instead of flat-out declining a phone call, you can now auto-reply to the caller with a preprogrammed text message. There’s a new Do Not Disturb feature, too, which lets you silence your phone between certain hours or let only certain callers’ calls through.
- Mail – The Mail app’s interface has been updated a bit and you can set up a VIP list to flag messages you don’t want to miss.
- Safari – The web browser now features cloud-based tabs that’ll save and synchronize between multiple Apple devices, and full-screen browsing when in landscape mode. The Reading List feature now works offline, saving entire web pages for you to read later.
- There’s More – Check out the full list here…
The new iOS 6 software is a free download for the following Apple portables:
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 5 (preloaded)
- 4th-generation iPod Touch
- 5th-generation iPod Touch (preloaded)
- iPad 2
- New iPad
Not all compatible devices will get all the features mentioned above. Some caveats:
- Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation aren’t available on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or 4th-generation iPod Touch.
- Siri is only available on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, new iPad and 5th-generation iPod Touch.
- Offline Reading List isn’t available on the iPhone 3GS.
- Panoramic pictures are only available on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and 5th-generation iPod Touch.
Where to Get It
Check the Settings > General > Software Update section of your device, which should let you know when the software is ready to be downloaded. You can also connect your device to your computer via the USB cable, fire up iTunes, and check for the update there. If you don’t see the update right away, be patient – Apple is likely to roll it out gradually throughout the day instead of all at once in order to manage all the traffic to its servers.