The Phone app has remained relatively unchanged since its debut on the original iPhone back in 2007. It’s had a new icon since then, and a few smaller features, but that’s pretty much it. In iOS 6, there are a number of new features you’ll love.
Reply with message
Can’t take a call right away, but don’t want to just ignore it? Well, in iOS 6, you can decline a call but send a message to your caller to explain why you couldn’t take it. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the display during an incoming call, then select ‘Reply with Message’. There are three default messages you can send instantly, or you can write your own.
The problem I have when I can’t take calls is that I decline them, but then forget I ever received them. In iOS 6, you can ask your iPhone to remind you of a call later on, so that you can return it at a more appropriate time. What’s more, the reminders can be location-based, so you can ask to receive them when you leave work, or when you get home.
FaceTime over cellular
In iOS 6, FaceTime no longer requires a Wi-Fi connection. Finally! You can now make FaceTime calls to friends and family over 3G and 4G data connections, though you will need to ensure your carrier supports this feature, and you’ll need to be aware that some (such as AT&T) are charging extra for it.
Remember that panoramic camera feature that’s been hidden in iOS since iOS 5? Well, in iOS 6, it’s finally been activated, and it’s available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and the fifth-generation iPod touch. The feature allows you to capture incredible panoramas, with one simple sweeping motion. It then seamlessly stitches all of the images together to create one high-resolution image up to 28 megapixels in size.
There are new privacy settings built into iOS 6 that help you keep your private data private. Whenever you open an app for the first time, your device will ask for your permission if it attempts to access your photos, your location, your contacts, and more. You can also modify these choices from within the new privacy menu within the Settings app.
In here, you’ll also be able to see which apps have access to your calendars, your Reminders, and your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Like Twitter, Facebook is now integrated into iOS, meaning you can post to your favorite social network from all sorts of places. You can post messages using the post button within Notification Center, you can upload photos directly from within your Camera Roll, you can post webpages and links from within Safari, you can post your favorite apps from the App Store, you can post your location from Maps, and lots more.
Shared Photo Streams
Want to share your holiday snaps with your friends? In iOS 6, you can create Photo Streams that can be shared among other users. All you need to do is select all the photos you wish to share from the Photos apps, tap the Share button, then choose who you’d like to share your images with. Your friends will then receive the images on their own Macs and iOS devices. If they don’t have a Mac or iOS device, then can view them in a web browser on any PC.
Comments & Notifications
The great thing about Shared Photo Streams is that the people you’ve shares your photos with can leave comments or ‘like’ them, and you’ll receive a notification to let you know.
There are a few great additions to the Settings app within iOS 6, starting with my favorite…
Do Not Disturb
While it’s only small, Do Not Disturb is probably one of my favorite features in iOS 6. I’ve been using it with the beta, and it’s been awesome. With Do Not Disturb enabled, your iOS device will automatically stop sending your notifications between certain times. For example, you can set it up to work from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m., and during this time, your device won’t bother you with alerts. You can even ask it to block calls if you wish to, or to just allow calls from your favorites or certain groups of people.
When Do Not Disturb is active, you’ll see a little moon icon alongside the clock in the status bar, so it’s easy to see when it’s at work.
Wi-Fi Plus Cellular
You can now allow your iOS device to use “Wi-Fi Plus Cellular” connections. What that means is, when you’re in an area with a spotty or unreliable Wi-Fi connection, your iOS apps will automatically switch between Wi-Fi and cellular connections and provide you with the best one. This will be particularly useful with the iPhone 5’s speedy 4G LTE connectivity.
Live home screen previews
When changing your wallpaper within the Settings app, you’ll see a live preview of your home screen — complete with your own icons, and even your app badges — rather than a default home screen setup.
Unified email addresses & phone numbers
In iOS 6, iMessage rolls all your email addresses and phone numbers into one, so no matter which one your friends contact you on, you’ll receive the message on all your devices. Even your iPad and your Mac can now receive iMessages sent to your iPhone’s phone number — isn’t that great?
Here’s a list of minor changes or improvements to iOS 6 that didn’t fit into any of the categories listed above. It’s worth taking a good look at these, because they’re likely to be the features you don’t notice straight away, but wish you had spotted them sooner. Some of them are particularly useful.
iCloud.com email addresses
When setting up a new iOS device with iOS 6, users will have the opportunity to choose an @iCloud.com email address rather than a traditional @me.com one.
Colorful status bars
The status bar on your iOS device is no longer limited to being just black or silver — it now changes color depending on the app you’re using. While in Skype, for example, it goes bright blue, while in the eBay app, it goes grey. You can see some more examples of this here.
Folder names in Spotlight
When searching for things in Spotlight, folder names will now appear alongside apps so that you can quickly see where they’ve been hidden.
Capital letter after quotes & Emoji
When you start or end a quote in iOS 6, the keyboard automatically switches to capital letters after the first and last quotation marks — you no longer need to hit shift and do it manually. Furthermore, if you add emoji after a sentence and you ended that sentence with a period, the keyboard will switch to capitals here, too.
iOS’s built-in Clock app is now available on the iPad, only it’s much bigger (obviously), and much more beautiful. Like the iPhone’s clock app, it allows you to set alarms and timers, and set up different clocks for different cities around the world.
Retina shutdown spinner
This is a small one, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate it. The spinning wheel you see when you shutdown your iOS device is now optimized for the Retina display — two years after the Retina display made its debut with the iPhone 4S.
iTunes Match streaming
You can now stream iTunes Match music to your iOS device with the Music app — you’re no longer forced to download it.
‘New’ app banners
When you install a new app, it will get a ‘new’ banner over its icon so it can quickly be identified as a new app on your home screen.
The Reminders app now utilizes app badges when you have outstanding Reminders, making it easy to see from your home screen that you still have things to do.