Apple releases iOS 6

Can I upgrade? iOS 6 requires at least:

  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPad 2
  • iPod Touch 4th generation and newer (if your iPod Touch has a front facing camera you’re good to go)
  • Apple TV 2 (it isn’t out as I’m sending this, but typically they delay Apple TV updates by a few hours)

Should I upgrade? If you’re an early adopter (and most Apple customers are), go ahead and do the upgrade right away – there are lots of nice new features and Apple has done some great polishing. The only big reason you might want to hold off right now is app compatibility, though all the major apps are just fine. I am an app addict and the only one I use that is having trouble is ParkNow, the app that Montgomery County uses for pay-by-phone at their parking meters, though they have stated that a fixed version has been submitted to Apple for approval. If you are dependent on an obscure app you will need to be a little more cautious.

To get the update, connect your device to a WiFi network and open your Settings app. Go to the General section and find Software Update. I recommend you plug your phone in for power while this runs – it could take a while. If you are still running iOS 4 you will need to update through iTunes.

What’s new? The big update includes lots and lots of new features, but my favorites are:

  • Turn-by-turn directions provided by TomTom are now built-in. (iPhone 4S and iPad 2 w/ cellular)
  • Stream music from iTunes Match – doesn’t save music to your phone unless you want it to (Bonus tip: a $25 iTunes Match account costs less than buying a higher capacity iPhone to store all of your music)
  • WiFi + Cellular – If your phone connects to a WiFi network that has no internet connection or if it’s just too slow, your phone will quickly fall back to cellular – I find this particularly useful when I’m checking the web as I leave my apartment and get in the elevator
  • Apple Passbook – a single place for your loyalty cards, tickets, gift cards, coupons…
  • iCloud tabs – your iPhone knows what Safari tabs your Mac has open and vice versa.
  • VIP list – only get notified of new mail or texts from a particular list of people, if you want
  • FaceTime over cellular (AT&T users will need to be on the new Mobile Share plans that came out last month – don’t let the name fool you, the plans also work with single phone accounts, too)
  • Panoramic photos (iPhone 4S)
  • Photostream sharing – you can have multiple Photostreams and you can share them with other iCloud users.
  • Do Not Disturb – set your phone manually or at certain times of the day to not light up, vibrate or make any sounds – you can make exceptions for your VIP list, a contact group, or for when someone calls twice in a row.
  • Facebook integration – post web pages, photos, status updates and more to Facebook, Facebook contacts are automatically on your phone and contacts that match are linked together so as to not overwrite data in your contact list
  • No more passwords to update apps or to install apps you’ve already purchased

After you install the update make sure to check the App Store, as Apple is releasing a barrage of app updates as well.

New Apple TV features. I am putting this in its own section because the new features are different from updates on other iOS devices.

  • Multiple accounts – set up multiple iTunes accounts on the same device so everyone in the family (or friends) has access to their entire iCloud library
  • Rearrange icons – hold the select button to make the icons jiggle and rearrange them just like you do on other iOS devices
  • Remove icons – Don’t watch sports? Wall Street Journal? Remove the icons using parental controls
  • AirPlay audio output – send your Apple TV sound to AirPlay speakers
  • Choose your Photostream – now that iOS has support for multiple Photostreams, you can choose which one AppleTV displays for a screensaver