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Apple iOS 6 arrives: See its most important new features!

As you may have heard, Apple has just released the iPhone 5 along with the updated operating system, known as iOS 6.0.

If you currently have an iPhone 4, 4S or iPad 2/iPad 3, you can upgrade to iOS 6.0.

A few notes of caution, please be sure to do a device backup before you upgrade, and ensure you have the device plugged in with your power supply. The upgrade takes about an hour to complete, so be patient as it chugs away. It will reboot a few times during the process.

We’ve tested the new upgrade and can say that the Siri feature (the voice-based personal assistant) works MUCH better in iOS 6.

Please find below a summary of some of the most interesting features.

Insert photos and videos in email messages

For years, users have complained that to send photos or videos, they had to initiate the email from the Photos app. Finally, you can insert either type of file directly in your emails. Tap and hold in the text to get the contextual menu, then choose Insert Video or Photo. A popover appears in which you select an image or video stored in Photos app. It’s about time!

Insert Photos and Videos

Assign signatures to email accounts

Another long-standing annoyance in iOS has been the fact that one email signature was applied to all your email accounts. iOS 6 finally rectifies this limitation: You can now set a separate signature via the Settings app for each email account.

Assign Signatures

Reorder mailboxes, filter by favorites

Another fix to iOS’s email is the new ability to reorder mailboxes in your list of accounts, so they appear in your preferred order rather than the seemingly random order of previous versions.

iOS 6 also uses the VIP virtual mailbox that debuted in OS X Mountain Lion: Mail from anyone you specify as a VIP appears in the virtual VIP mailbox for quick access. (These are aliases, so the actual message remains in the original mailboxes and folders.) Tap a name in a mesage and choose Add to VIP in the popover that appears; VIPs in OS X’s Mail also sync with iOS.

Another minor change: The flagging feature now gets its own button at the top of the message pane.

Reorder Mailboxes

Upload images to websites

iOS has long let you tap and hold website images so that you can save them into the Photos app or copy them into compatible apps. What it couldn’t do is upload images to websites that supported uploads. In a world where people upload photos to sharing sites, this was a big problem. iOS 6 fixes that, letting you upload images from the Photos app or even take a picture to transfer to the website by clickig its upload button.

Upload Images

Scheduling quiet times

OS X Mountain Lion debuted the Do Not Disturb feature to turn off alerts in the Notification Center that it copied from iOS 5. Now, iOS 6 copies Do Not Disturb and makes it better: You can schedule a daily do-not-disturb period, such as overnight, but let phone calls and other messages through from the groups of people you choose. That way, your kids’ calls will ring through at any hour, but not your boss’s.

Schedule Quiet Time

Siri comes to the third-gen iPad

Apple’s Siri voice-based personal assistant debuted last fall as an iPhone 4S exclusive. With iOS 6, the third-generation iPad gets Siri, too (along with the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch, of course). But earlier iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches still don’t support Siri, due to hardware limitations.

Siri to iPad 3

Get turn-by-turn directions

One enduring Google Android advantage over iOS has been its turn-by-turn navigation feature — ironic, since Apple used Google’s Map apps to deliver directions. Apple has dumped Google Maps (as well as the Google-owned YouTube app) from iOS 6 and delivered its own version.

On an iPhone 4S or later or on a third-gen iPad, that Maps app delivers turn-by-turn navigation, with the option of spoken instructions. Sadly, earlier devices don’t get this capability, so you’ll need an app like Navigon or TeleNav instead.

Turn by Turn Navigation

Choose how to answer an incoming call

iPhone users will like this: When you get a get a call you can’t answer, you now have new options besides ignoring the call or sending it to voicemail (double-click the power button to do that). Tap the phone icon to get two new options: Reply with Message and Remind Me Later.

The Reply with Message option sends any of several canned responses (such as “I’m on my way”) via SMS or iMessage; choose Custom to type in your own reply in the Messages app.

The Remind Me Later option lets you have the iPhone remind you an hour later, when you leave your current location, when you get home, or when you get to the office (if you’ve set those two locations in your Contacts card).

Choose How to Answer Calls

Open Safari in full screen on an iPhone or iPod Touch

The small screens of an iPhone or iPod Touch can make viewing desktop-oriented websites a bit difficult. Sure, you can zoom, but that navigating a page bit by bit has its own issues. In iOS 6, when you view a website in horizontal orientation on these devices, you now get a Full Screen button that gives you a few more pixels for seeing the page (the menu bar disappears).

How much do you want to bet that the “iPad Mini” will have this feature, too?

Safari in Full-Screen Mode

Share via Facebook

Last year, Apple added Twitter to its suite of standard sharing options in iOS 5. This year, Facebook joins the party. If you have a Facebook account and set it up in the Settings app, Facebook appears as an option in the Sharing menus and popovers for websites, photos, and more.

Share via Facebook

Manage your tickets in one app

The Passbook app is the most intriguing new capability in iOS 6, but also a big question mark. The app is meant to store tickets — airline tickets, movie tickets, and more — so you can use your iPhone to check in to all sorts of venues from the convenience of a single app that has them all. (Passbook is not available on the iPad or iPod Touch.)

That sounds great, but for Passbook to be useful, ticket issuers need to get on board, and it’s unclear how many will do so and when they might. So far, the good news is that American, Delta, and United have committed, so other firms — not just airlines — are likely to follow.

Manage Tickets with PassBook App

Share your photos via iCloud

One of the key capabilities in iCloud, which debuted in iOS 5, is the ability to sync photos across iOS devices, Macs, Windows PCs, and your personal iCloud account on the Web. iOS 6 extends that Photo Stream capability so that you can share a photo stream with others by making a virtual album publicly accessible on

If your friends and family have iOS 6 devices, Macs running OS X Mountain Lion, or an Apple TV, they can see the shared photo stream directly on their devices.

Share Photos via iCloud

Share in more ways

As Apple adds more ways to share data through services such as WebDAV, iCloud, Facebook, and Twitter, the iOS Share menu risks getting too big for the iPhone’s screen. Pus, many apps use the Share menu for other purposes; the Photos app uses it to save an image as your wallpaper or contact card photo, and Safari uses it to add bookmarks to the bookmarks list, Reading List, and home screen. And many apps use it for printing.

iOS 6 has replaced the Share menu with the Share popover, with each option displayed as an icon. When the popover is full, navigation buttons appear below to switch to other panes with even more sharing options.

Share Info in More Ways

Setting alarms and checking the time

iOS 6 brings the Clock app to the iPad; the iPhone and iPod Touch have long had this app. With the Clock app, you can set alarms, check the time throughout the world, or run a timer or a stopwatch.

Settings Alarms and Checking Time