Apple didn’t spend very much time at last week’s press event discussing the details of its newest mobile operating system because, naturally, most people wanted to hear about the iPhone 5. While the focus on Wednesday, when the software becomes available for download, will be on how iOS 6 works on the iPhone there’s a lot of great new stuff for the iPad nestled in there too. The following is a list of 10 new and interesting iOS 6 features expressly for iPad users.
Before we get started with what new features you do get with the iOS 6 update for the iPad, it is important to mention what you don’t. To start, you will not be able to update your original 2010-era iPad to iOS 6. There will be no panoramic camera, no Passbook app, and of course no enhanced Phone app with the iOS 6 update for the iPad. You may have also heard that the Google’s YouTube(s GOOG) app will not come standard with the iOS release. And when Apple decided not to use Google’s Maps app any more, they also inadvertently decided to remove Google’s StreetView capability as well.
But here’s what you do get with iOS 6 for iPad:
Siri – While the new iPad released earlier this year is able to take dictation, it was still missing the full set of features provided by Siri. Siri has also been updated and will tell you sports scores and standings for your favorite teams, recommend movies times, and show you which restaurants in your area have tables available. Siri can also now post to your Facebook(s FB) and Twitter accounts. And the updated restrictions in iOS 6 will allow you to block explicit language when using Siri.
Apple’s own Maps app – Apple has created its own Maps app that includes such features as turn-by-turn directions, three-dimensional maps and Apple’s own real-time traffic information. And if you happen to have the cellular version of the iPad, it comes with GPS built-in which makes the turn-by-turn feature useful on the iPad. Apple has also opened up the integration with the Maps app to make it easier to connect with localized map apps from developers, so keep an eye out for your local transit authority to take advantage of this new capability.
Facebook integration – With iOS 5, Apple added Twitter integration throughout the various apps and features of iOS. Now with iOS 6, Facebook has been added and you will find the same level of integration for Facebook throughout iOS. Sharing links from Safari, posting photos, recommending apps in the App Store, and letting people know where you are and where you are going in Maps are some of the places you can now use Facebook from your iPad.
Sharing multiple PhotoStreams – When PhotoStream was introduced as iCloud’s version of MobleMe Galleries, a negative side effect was losing the ability to create multiple streams that you could share with your family and friends. With iOS 6, now you can set up multiple PhotoStreams. When you choose to share a photo with PhotoStream, you will be prompted to choose which one you want to share that photo with. The reverse is particularly important for your iPad as you can now display photos from all of the iCloud accounts in your family, not just the one iCloud account associated with your device. It is now much easier to see all of the photos everyone has taken on at particular event or location.
Do Not Disturb – The Notifications feature has been enhanced to allow you to quickly turn off all notification settings in one swipe, just as you could before iOS 5. You can now also configure each of your mail configurations independently from within notification. So if you want to be alerted by new mail messages coming into your Google account, but not your Yahoo account, now you can. This includes setting up a distinctive mail alert and/or vibration pattern for each account.
Very Important Contacts – Along with the update to the notification configurations comes the ability to create your own list of very important people. You can have calls, messages and mail notifications from these users handled differently than others. When you turn on the Do Not Disturb mode, you can allow alerts from your favorites to come through. This comes in handy if you are willing to be interrupted by only certain individuals.
iCloud tabs in Safari – Now just as you can with Safari in OS X Mountain Lion, with iOS 6 you can see what you have open in the tabs on your other devices. Organized by the name you have associated with each device, you can now see all of the most recent tabs that you have open on all of your Safari browsers, including on your iPad.
Enhanced App Store – Apple has overhauled the on device App Store interface to address the difficulty of surfacing more quality apps to users. You now have access to more information about each app including their version history. Another handy feature is that you are no longer required to enter a password for the free apps you choose to download.
New Clock app for iPad – Narrowing the number of default iPhone apps that are missing on the iPad, Apple has decided to finally include the Clock app as a standard with iOS 6 for iPad. The Clock app is not a direct port from the iPhone version; you can instantly tell that each feature was custom designed with the larger interface of the iPad in mind. You have a World Clock, Alarm, Stopwatch and Timer just as you do on the iPhone version.
FaceTime everywhere – While the iPhone is getting the ability to send and receive FaceTime calls over cellular networks for the first time, Apple has enhanced Facetime so that you can receive all of your FaceTime alerts across all of your devices. That now includes alerts that someone is trying to FaceTime you on another iOS or OS X device. This means all your devices will ring at the same time.
Overall, the iOS 6 update is rather significant if you are the owner of a third-generation iPad. Remember: don’t feel like you need to run out and buy an iPhone 5 in order to take advantage of all of the new features of iOS 6.