Eight Exciting Features of iOS 6

iOS 6 is pretty cool and here's why

With over 200 new features, there are a lot of candidates for the most exciting new features of iOS 6. Which ones you find useful will depend on how you use your iPhone or iPod touch, but these are the features that most caught my eye.

In order to use iOS 6, you'll need a compatible device. Once you've got one, though, here are some of the features you're going to really enjoy using.

Related: There are also two big changes to iOS 6 that many people don't like:

Since its debut, the Maps app on the iPhone has been powered by Google, and, while it offered the ability to get directions, it never provided turn-by-turn directions that are common on GPS devices, apps, and smartphones that run Android. Well, not anymore.

In iOS 6, the Maps app has been completely recreated. Gone is Google Maps, replaced by a homegrown app developed by Apple using commercial and publicly available data. The new app adds a number of cool things, like crowd-sourced traffic reports and 3D flyovers, but the most exciting addition is true turn-by-turn navigation.

The new Maps app provides direction with big, easy-to-read onscreen graphics, dynamically re-directs you to alternate routes based on traffic, works when the screen is locked, and supports Siri. Driving with the iPhone just got a whole lot better. More »

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In our increasingly digital world, doesn't it seem odd that so many things that we use all the time--tickets and coupons come to mind--are still paper? If Passbook catches on, they won't be much longer.

Passbook is a digital organizer for all your tickets, passes, coupons, gift cards, and more. If the company you're doing business supports Passbook, you'll be able to download information right to the app and leave the paper at home.

Got an e-boarding pass for a flight? It will be here. Bought movie tickets online? Don't print them out, they'll be in Passbook. So will your Starbucks card. Passbook is cool, but it could turn out be huge, especially if the next iPhone has near-field communications (NFC) to allow you to use those passes just by putting your iPhone near a scanner.

Until iOS 6, the iPhone's phone app was somewhat clumsy: You could silence calls or put them on vibrate, get text or audio alerts, or just turn the phone off. Not a lot of allowance for situations where you want to get some calls but not others. That's what Do Not Disturb offers.

With it, you can set your iPhone to go into Do Not Disturb mode at a certain time. When it does, you'll still get calls, alerts, and messages, but your phone won't make noise or light up to display them. However, you can create a whitelist of people whose messages and calls get through no matter what. You can also let repeat callers get through even if they're not whitelisted (important in case of emergencies).

IPhone users have been asking for this feature quite a bit; it's finally here. More »

Concerned about apps having access to all the personal information on your iPhone? Or did you not know to be concerned about it and now you are? Well, thanks to iOS 6, you can relax a bit. That's because it contains a new Privacy setting that allows you to control which apps have access to what data--like Contacts, GPS info, Photos, and more--with a simple slider. With this feature, you can feel more confident about what is, and isn't, being done with your data. More »

When Siri debuted on the iPhone 4S, it was a cool feature, but somewhat limited. With iOS 6, Siri is a lot smarter and more capable.

Siri can now launch apps by voice, give you sports information like scores, standings, and stats, thanks to integration with OpenTable not only find you restaurants but also help you make a reservation, and can now understand and talk to you in 15 new languages.

The new Siri also works on the iPad and supports "Eyes Free" integration with select cars (BMW, GM, Chrysler, and Honda, among others) to let you use your phone while driving without taking your eyes off the road. More »

This one largely speaks for itself, but it's been a top request for FaceTime since its debut. Unlike in the past, your video chats are no longer limited to situations in which you're connected to Wi-Fi. Now, if you're connected to a cellular phone network, and are using an iPhone 4S or third-generation iPad, FaceTime is available to you. More »

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Facebook Integration

Remember how Twitter was integrated into the operating system in iOS 5? In iOS 6, Facebook gets the same treatment.

With this features, you can sign up and sign in via the OS/app combo and the ability to share to Facebook is embedded in apps throughout the iPhone. Facebook integration also means that the app is hooked into Notification Center and the iTunes Store and App Store apps, so you can easily Like and share things there.

Forget rumors of a Facebook phone; this is some seriously useful stuff for iPhone-owning Facebook junkies.

Starting in iOS 6, your iPhone is hooked into your local emergency and AMBER alert networks, so when local authorities issue one of these warnings, you'll see it pop up on your iPhone's screen. This is important especially if extreme weather or other disasters are headed your way.

These alerts are enabled by default, but if you prefer not to get them (the emergency alerts, in particular, can be loud and jarring, but maybe that's a good thing given their content), you can turn them off by following the instructions in the article linked to above.  More »