To coincide with Friday's release of the iPhone 5, Apple released a new version of its popular mobile operating system, iOS.
The new version, called iOS 6, offers new features, bug fixes and speed enhancements for owners of recent Apple devices. Here's a look at the biggest new features in iOS 6, as well as a list of supported devices:
Though it comes preinstalled on the iPhone 5, iOS 6 also is available to owners of recent-generation iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices.
All iPhone and iPad owners, except those with a first-generation iPhone, iPhone 3G or first-generation iPad can update to iOS 6.
Access to iOS 6 on the iPod touch is limited to owners of the fourth-generation and fifth-generation (new) models.
If you're not sure which device model you have, check the "Software Update" settings on the device to see if iOS 6 is available to you. To do this, visit the Settings app and choose the "General" button. From there, select the "Software Update" button and follow the prompt.
2.5 GB of available storage is required to start the iOS 6 installation process, so be ready to clear out some space if you're running up against the limit.
First, the bad news: Apple's new Maps app needs some work. Due to, among other reasons, increasing tension with Google over the competing Android platform, Apple removed Google Maps integration from the Maps app in favor of a new, in-house version.
Early impressions of Apple Maps are not favorable. Along with less-detailed street map information, which varies by area, Apple Maps don't have transit information and lose the Street View feature of Google Maps.
The new Maps does offer turn-by-turn directions (on certain devices), a long-requested feature. A 3D-city mode called Flyover also is available for select areas.
A separate Google Maps app is not currently available, but iOS users who want Google Maps functionality can use the Web app in Safari at maps.google.com.
One nice new feature is Passbook, an app designed to hold user coupons, loyalty cards and tickets. Passbook can interface with other apps to accept and store digital passes, such as plane boarding passes and movie tickets. Retailer loyalty cards also can be stored in the app, allowing users to click the card in Passbook and scan it in store. The app aims to digitally store passes in a single, unified place.
It's important to note that Passbook doesn't let you enter information manually; it needs to work with an existing app or service to put new information in. For example, Target loyalty card users can use the associated Target app to get their loyalty card into Passbook, but users with a loyalty card without an app or service can't enter their card manually to get it into Passbook.
Passbook shows great promise, but it needs further adoption before it will become truly useful.
Apple has tightened most of its existing apps, providing better options and stability.
Mail now allows users to embed media directly into the app. The Clock app has come to iPad, with a new look and viewing options.
Integration with iCloud has been improved across the board, most notably with Photo Stream. Users can share a cloud stream of photo with a group of other specified users.
For a further look at all of the new features available in iOS 6, see Apple's "What's New" hub page at www.apple.com/ios/ whats-new/.
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