iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Apple's mobile OSes compared

19th Sep 2012 | 15:36

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Apple's mobile OSes compared

What to expect from the new OS, and what will change on your old iDevice

iOS 5 brought many sweeping changes to the iPhone and other iDevices. Twitter integration, alternate routes in the Maps app, tweaked iMessages and wireless syncing over WiFi, all things that iDevice users were clamoring for.

Now iOS 6 has arrived, full of updates that will surely have iPhone and iPad owners wondering how they lived without these helpful new features.

As of today Apple's new mobile operating system is officially available. It doesn't matter if you were among the millions who pre-ordered the iPhone 5 or fifth-generation iPod touch. The iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, new iPad 3 and fourth-generation iPod touch are all eligible for an update to iOS 6.

We've assembled a list of the tweaks and new features that the iOS 6 update will bring to the mobile Apple experience.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Passbook

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

Brand new to iOS 6 is Passbook, an official Apple app that will track and store your airline boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards (think Starbucks and grocery store discount cards), concert tickets, admission passes to sporting events and more. To keep hassle to a minimum, your iPhone will automatically display relevant passes on the lock screen, using location tracking to know where you are and what you'll need. That means that when you walk into the airport or a movie theater your ticket will be just a push of the Home Button away.

Before iOS 6, this sort of ticket and coupon tracking was third-party app territory. Apps like CardStar and Eventbrite stored barcodes for most major loyalty cards and coupons, importing information using the iPhone's camera. Now that Apple is folding this technology directly into iOS 6, these guys will have to get more clever to compete.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Maps

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

Goodbye Google Maps and hello Apple Maps, finally with turn-by-turn directions. Before iOS 6, Google Maps didn't provide those coveted turn-by-turn instructions, and iPhone users had to pony up for expensive third-party apps like TomTom if they wanted their iPhone to direct them around town.

Now Apple is delivering a new mapping solution that provides spoken directions, as well as striking 3D photography that users can pan and zoom around in. However, you can bid Street View farewell, since that's a Google Maps feature. Enjoy your newfound exclusivity, Android users.

iOS 5 introduced an awesome, much-needed tweak to the official Maps app: alternate routes. Users could finally choose from more than one route, allowing them to skirt traffic and steer clear of the freeway, if they wanted. However, the app still did not provide turn-by-turn spoken directions, leaving it behind the features offered by Android and Windows Phone map apps, or third party players on the iPhone.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Siri

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

iOS 6 will bump up Siri's IQ a few a points. You'll now be able to speak to her in an even more colloquial fashion. For example, you could ask her to find well-reviewed films in your area, and she can respond by launching third-party apps such as Rotten Tomatoes. She'll also be able to post to Facebook and tweet on your behalf.

It was the iPhone 4S that launched Siri, the talking digital assistant. While iOS 6 will upgrade her functionality, she won't be available on any devices that were previously Siri-less. Sorry iPhone 4 and iPad 2 users.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Facebook

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

Access to Zuckerberg's social network will be baked right into iOS 6, allowing you to share and post updates without having to actually open the Facebook app. You'll be able to share a picture you just shot from the Camera app, alert your friends to your location using Maps, and tell everybody how much time you just wasted on Angry Birds right from the Game Center. As mentioned, Siri will get in on this action too - you'll be able to ask her to post on your behalf.

Since iOS 5 added extensive Twitter integration to the iPhone, these built-in Facebook features were expected. After iOS 5, users were able to tweet links right from apps like Safari, the New York Times, YouTube and Apple Trailers. With iOS 6, it seems that both social networking phenomenons will be given equal footing on Apple's iPhone.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Photos

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

Not only will photos on iOS 6 be integrated with Facebook, iPhone owners will be able to show their snaps to pals using Shared Photo Streams. Load up the new Photo app and you'll find that you can select photos and share them with the contacts of your choice. iOS 6 or OS X Mountain Lion users can have them delivered directly to their Photos app or iPhoto. Those not using the latest Mac software, or using a non-Apple product can view them via the web. To really sweeten the deal, Apple has said that this photo sharing and storage will not take up your allotted space on iCloud.

While iOS 5 allowed users to tweet or email their pictures, it was not nearly as well integrated with iCloud. With Shared Photo Streams, Facebook integration and the iPhone 5's more advanced camera, iOS 5 has really been left in the dust when it comes to taking and sharing pics.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: FaceTime

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

The simple version: iOS 6 will allow users to FaceTime over cellular service, no longer needing WiFi to make video calls. The complicated version: different carriers are instating different rules via data plans. Sprint and Verizon will offer FaceTime to customers on all data packages. However, Verizon customers picking up an iPhone 5 will have to pay full price for the handset (not the nice $199 price for the 16GB model) in order to have an unlimited data plan. On the other hand, AT&T is forcing shared data plans on customers who wish to FaceTime over its network. Sprint, meanwhile, is playing it cool, saying "customers with iOS 6 on their iPhone will be allowed to utilize FaceTime with Sprint's current unlimited data offers while on the Sprint network."

iOS 5 furthered the iPhone's budding romance with video calling, adding deeper integration for the app into other communication methods. FaceTime calls could be started from iMessages and standard phone calls, but now that iOS 6 will bring it to cellular service, you should check your hair and makeup before picking up a calls around town.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Phone and calling

iOS 5 vs iOS 6

The new Phone features for iOS 6 will make rejecting unwanted calls a lot easier. Now when you decline a call, you'll be given the option to respond with a pre-composed text, like "I'll call you later" or "I'm on my way," or set a reminder to return the call. You can also put the phone on Do Not Disturb mode. That way, the maid won't knock on your door with fresh towels, and the only calls that will come through will be from contacts you've selected, like your boss or significant other.

iOS 5 introduced some very clever Phone-related features, such as being able to return a call or check voicemail directly from the home screen. It also added better integration for FaceTime. Other than that, it pretty much left the Phone features alone. Who makes calls on their iPhone anyway?

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Mail

iOS 6 will refresh the Mail app, making it easier to attach pictures and videos to your outgoing emails. It will also let you assemble a list of VIP contacts. Communications with these important people will show up in a separate folder, making sure you never miss an email from your boss, mother, or whoever else makes your list. It also has a slightly tweaked interface. Refreshing your inbox is now as simple as swiping downwards, like in the Twitter app.

iOS 5 added some much-needed features to email on the iPhone. Users could create subfolders for sorting mail, and flag messages like in OS X Mail. Familiar text formatting options were added as well, finally letting users bold, italicize, indent or add quote levels (that blue text that appears in a forwarded message) to their emails.

iOS 6 vs iOS 5: Safari

Thanks to iOS 6, browsing the web on Safari will become a unified Apple experience. iOS 6 will introduce iCloud Tabs, which will keep your place across all iDevices and Mountain Lion Macs associated with your iCloud account.

That means if you're reading this article on your MacBook Air, you could step out the door and pick up right where you left off on your iPod touch or iPhone. You'll also be able to save whole web pages to your Reading List, rather than just links, so articles will be available for offline reading.

iOS 6's Safari will also let you post pics and videos without leaving the browser, and you'll be able to ditch browser borders and go full-screen for an edge-to-edge web surfing experience.

There were some great Safari updates introduced with iOS 5 as well. In addition to better HTML5 support, iOS 5 brought the option of private, history-free browsing to mobile devices, and added tabbed browsing to the iPad.

iOS 6 iOS 5 iPhone 5 iPhone iPad iPod touch Apple OS X TRBCExtra TRBC
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