Hands on with iOS 6: Spotlight on Facebook, Maps, and more

ios6 upgradeeverything iphone 5It’s finally here: No, not the iPhone 5, but iOS 6 is a nice placeholder to tide us all over until then. The latest iteration of the Apple OS is here and ready for download. Before you plug in and connect (or opt for the dreadfully slow over-the-air WiFi update), here’s a look at all the biggest changes you’ll be greeted by with iOS 6, and how they measure up.

Maps

Without a doubt, the elephant in the iOS 6 room is Maps. As we’ve known (officially) since WWDC, Apple has been wiping its ecosystem clean of all things Google, including Google Maps. And as expected, when you launch your iPhone post iOS 6 update, you’ll kiss the Google Maps icon goodbye and see it replaced with Apple’s TomTom-fed proprietary app, Maps.

maps routing appsAs you can imagine, there’s the standard unfamiliarity of working with a new maps tool after becoming so comfortable with Google’s version, but it’s all pretty straight-forward: Selecting the arrow icon in the upper left-hand corner allows you to choose start and end points, as well as indicate whether you’re on foot, car, or public transit. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t feed public transit on its own; if you choose this option, you’re pushed to a prompt to download an outside routing app.

Also obnoxious is the fact that you can’t edit your route once you’ve entered it. After you enter your start and end points then hit route, you’re taken to a page where you can either choose “clear” to abandon your trip, “start” to select it, or the viewing options: zooming in, 3D, or listed. You can lift the page to view traffic (which when I selected it, made no timing or perceptible difference to my trip), drop pin, print, or choose satellite mode (this is that gorgeous flyover view we saw back during WWDC).

apple maps eugeneA few other grievances with Maps: I entered three large cities in Oregon – Eugene, Salem, and Beaverton – which weren’t auto-populated by Maps. The app was able to find them upon hitting enter, thankfully.

The other major problem I had with Maps’ function was turn-by-turn (a function only available with the iPhone 4S… and we can assume the iPhone 5). With Google Maps, you’re able to follow along and skip from point to point if need be – and for me, I often needed it to be. I may want take a different turn than the one recommended and just skip to the next indicated turn. But Maps doesn’t allow this: You have to actually get to the next indicated turn before you can see the rest of the directions, unless you pull up the “listed” option. Essentially there is no “next” indicator like there is in Google Maps.

And although Google Maps can’t do this either, there’s no ability to add a third (or fourth or fifth etc) location to your directions.

flyover viewA few things that Maps does well: The design is nice, as expected. The font, layout, and color scheme are familiar enough without being a Google Maps copycat and the flyover view-populated imaging is undeniably good looking. Apple also does a lot to keep Maps effective and not distracting; there is a prompt to return to navigation if you hit the home button for some reason, and directions stay on your lock screen as well. The Yelp integration is also well implemented and a welcome change. 

Overall, though, suffice it to say you’re going to miss Google Maps – and once it’s available, you’ll probably download it and replace Maps on your home bar after a little bit of experimentation with the new app.

Want to see more of Maps? Check out our photo gallery here

Facebook

facebook iphoneTwitter was the belle of the iOS 5 ball, and now it’s Facebook’s turn. Facebook is natively integrated into iOS 6, meaning you can automatically share photos to the site, and your contacts list has gotten an incredibly heavy social makeover. There’s also the ability to link your Calendar with Facebook, so that events would automatically fill up your iPhone’s schedule. Apps can now also access Facebook via the iPhone, granted you opt-in.

This all looks as you’d expect: Photos can be auto-shared, you can add notes and choose your audience. You can’t, however, tag friends.

Be prepared for the onslaught of @Facebook.com email addresses to inundate your iPhone, too. All your unsuspecting friends (with smartphone connected Facebook accounts) who didn’t change their default email address when Facebook went ahead and did it for them, now have that ported to all iOS 6 updated contact lists. It also means you have their profile pictures and other Facebook-fed information in your address book.

Camera

The iPhone camera has gotten a few fun new tweaks thanks to iOS 6. You now have a panorama mode (another iPhone 4S-only feature), which is incredibly easy to use. The iPhone will prompt you to slow down and keep the hand steady while capturing the image – you can’t, however, capture panorama stills in horizontal mode.

The UI and setup here are subtly different, but nothing significant. Within your Photo Gallery, the native options for sharing photos also have a nice new visual format as well.

camera panorama

Passbook

The new digital wallet app from Apple requires a bit of setup. After opening it, you’re immediately sent to the App Store to download the Fandango, Live Nation, Lufthansa, or MLB.com At Bat apps. These are the currently participating platforms, but we all know there will be more (right?!). Of course, that means it’s time to download what’s available from the small list, so stay tuned for a hands-on rundown of how Passbook actually works in action.

siri and twitter ios6Siri

Siri has been something of an iOS disappointment: She was the iPhone 4S’ big sell, but we quickly all learned what a novelty feature she is (and seriously, those commercials are not helping). Luckily, Siri has gotten a little more functional now. You can now make restaurant reservations, find movie reviews and show times, and best yet – finally launch apps and make posts using the voice command feature.

And we’re happy to say it all worked: Twitter was opened, tweets were written, statuses were updated and sent – all hands free. Same goes for restaurants reservations; a vague command to find a table for two tomorrow brought up some well rated restaurants that had space according to OpenTable. It’s a big improvement from what we saw when Siri first debuted.

Privacy

This is a very small note, but an important one for battery-saving addicts out there (including yours truly): Now if you want to turn Location Services off, you’ll need to go find it under Privacy.

App Store

app store upgradePerhaps the most hush-hush, but most necessary update, went to the App Store. It’s long been a source of frustration for developers and users alike who are caged by Apple’s narrow Featured page and the absence of suggested downloads.

Now we’re finally getting a glimpse at what that long-age Chomp acquisition is being put toward. Like we previously mentioned, Genius has been turned on for the App Store. The results are… average, but it’s better than the nothing we had before.

The UI is also more visual, with big descriptive cards in search showing you your options instead of the old listing method. Overall, everything is better-looking, more streamlined, and makes browsing and installing apps more fun and interesting – seriously Apple, it took long enough. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely, but this is a huge step in the right direction.

Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?
Cars

GPS units aren't dead! Our favorite models still do things your phone can't

Love hitting the open road but hate having to rely solely on your phone for getting around? Thankfully, the best in-car GPS systems will allow you to navigate and capitalize on a range of features sans your cellular network. Here are our…
Mobile

Updating to Apple’s iOS 12 will make your iPhone a whole lot smarter

iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, is officially here. We took it for a spin to check out its new noteworthy features, and if it truly changes our smartphone habits for the better.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

If you weren't already aware, USB-C is quickly becoming mainstream. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone.
Computing

How to protect your iCloud account

From Chinese hacking to identity theft, it's not surprising if you're a little worried about your iCloud data. Here's how to protect your iCloud account with a few simple security steps. It will only take a few minutes, and we'll walk you…
Mobile

Preapproval for iPhone Upgrade Program now available for iPhone XR

Apple took the wraps off of its new set of iPhones, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the new iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is being offered as the "affordable" iPhone, and it's a little different than the more expensive models.
Mobile

Upcoming iPad may lose a few millimeters, along with its headphone jack

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.
Computing

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.
Mobile

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Mobile

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Mobile

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next phone, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.
Mobile

Here are our favorite wireless phone chargers for Android devices and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.