Apple iOS 6.0 – Behind The Scenes

1/30/2013 11:40:04 AM

iOS 6.0 is the slick operating system at work behind the scenes in all Apple iDevices. Here’s what to expect.

This autumn saw the launch of the sixth-generation iOS platform, which headlined on the iPhone 5, but is suitable for most iDevices made in the past three years. Apple says 200 new, mostly minor features have been folded in. Some are immediately obvious - Passbook is added to the Home screen, along with a retouched icon to signify the new Maps app.

When the non-location-aware Siri first appeared last year, it was of limited use to UK users. iOS 6.0 adds this functionality, allowing you to use Siri to find local businesses, restaurants and the like.

Apple iOS 6.0

Apple iOS 6.0

It can be all too fallible, though. We asked Siri to find the nearest post office; it responded with several map pins, completely overlooking the main branch close to our office. It’s unclear whether the mistake is Siri’s.or flaky mapping data.

Photo Stream was introduced with iCloud for accessing your photos on any iOS device. With iOS 6.0, you can now share new photo streams with others.

Passbooks isn’t yet especially relevant in the UK. Launching the app gives you an idea of what may come: boarding passes for airlines, tickets for films and events, credit cards for specific shops and discount coupons.

Social media fans may welcome the extra integration with Facebook, allowing you to post updates from the Notification Center and Siri.

As seen in Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Apple now lets you deflect inopportune calls; rather than ignore the call, a push-up menu lets you reject it with a preset text message.

With so much personal information stored on smartphones these days, more fine-grained control over who gets to see what was overdue. You can now restrict how your data is siphoned by other companies. We’d rather have a simple off option to keep all data personal but, until then, you can elect to, for example, not share your contacts with Google Earth; likewise, your photos, calendars and reminders can be walled off from apps.

Buried in the Settings menu is an option to ‘Limit Ad Tracking’ - that’s limit, not stop. We still need a ‘Keep all my affairs private’ option, but it’s a positive step.

Safari has received a few updates, including iCIoud tabs. This lets you jump to pages you currently have open on other iOS devices or Mountain Lion Macs.

In the Mail app you can now paste photo or video inline without leaving the app. And you can refresh your inbox by pulling down the screen.

Panorama mode has been added to the Camera app, which stitches together a series of portrait shots into one widescreen photo.

Maps app

Apple has created its own Maps system in place of Google Maps, using mapping data from third parties such as TomTom. It’s built on vector-based graphics and text, and scales wonderfully. It’s an elegant solution to the problem of having your device continually re-download bitmapped images at different resolutions each time you zoom in. With smaller downloads required, larger areas can be retrieved, and the data seems to be retained longer on the device.

Apple has created its own Maps system in place of Google Maps, using mapping data from third parties such as TomTom.

Apple has created its own Maps system in place of Google Maps, using mapping data from third parties such as TomTom.

It’s not all good news, though. Popular features such as Street View aren’t available. More worrying is the misplacing of landscape features, towns and cities, and the absence of crucial details such as railway stations. Satellite imagery is also of a comparatively poor quality.

The Flyover feature is an attractive way to see buildings in 3D, but available only in select larger cities, and not on older devices such as the iPhone 4.

Maps is still a work in progress, but that doesn’t help users who have already upgraded. And apps such as Find My Friends are reliant on Apple’s sparse beta. You can still view Google, Bing or Nokia’s mapping data in Safari, of course.


Some previous iOS updates have resulted in older hardware struggling. We tested performance before and after on the iPhone 4 and 4S. The results were encouraging. In the SunSpider JavaScript test, for example, an iPhone 4 moved from 3,519ms to 3,003ms, suggesting a 17 percent improvement in rendering speed. The 4S recorded 1,891 ms, up from 2,421 ms - a 28 percent improvement.

Apple iOS 6.0

Geekbench 2 showed no significant change in the raw processor and memory speed: our iPhone 4 still averaged 326 points, and the iPhone 4S 632 points.

GLBenchmark showed very similar graphics performance. The iPhone 4 played the Egypt HD sequence at 4.1fps in iOS 5.1, and 4fps in iOS 6.0; the 4S managed 18 and 19fps respectively.

Lots of added handy features make iOS 6.0 a good upgrade with the caveat of the underperforming Maps. In every other respect, iOS 6.0 is a compelling free upgrade for iPhone and iPad users.

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