iOS 6

I jumped on iOS 6 on my iPhone 4S as soon as I could and I wanted to jot down some observations I’d not seen anywhere else:

App Store

We knew a visual overhaul of the App Store was coming and it really looks nice. I don’t like that I have to tap on each update to see what’s new, though. In iOS 5 and previous, several lines of update info were available without tapping.

Updating your apps doesn’t immediately dump you out of the App Store. Yay!

Update: Apps new to your device have a “New” banner until you launch them.

There’s now an “Open” button for apps that are on your device under the Purchased section. (Looks like you’ll find that anywhere in the app you previously found the disabled “Installed” button.) Tapping it takes you to that app on your device.

When you search for apps, you’re presented with nearly-full screen tiles that now show a screenshot from the app. This takes up more room, obviously, and it takes longer to scroll through the list. The list seems less responsive to swipes and, although the each group of 25 loads without clicking “More,” there’s a noticeable lag as each set loads—effectively reversing the advantage of auto-loading the next group.

The tiles mentioned above also appear for Genius recommendations, but strangely aren’t used for lists from Featured or Charts when you tap “Show All.”

Both Featured and Charts show lists of apps that scroll horizontally and the icons and banners are sized such that the last app or banner doesn’t completely show on the screen. This may be a visual cue to swipe to see more, however, but it seems a bit odd.

A number of times I’d get a screen where icons and/or text wouldn’t fill in. I assume the App Store is being hit hard today; I’ve already had 23 apps updated on my iPhone, which is probably a record for me.

Passbook

This is a mystery. When launched, you’re greeted by a description of the app (a place for boarding passes, tickets, store cards and coupons) and a button that takes you to the App Store.

I’m guessing this will work similar to Newsstand (it’s basically a special folder that contains apps designed to work with Passbook) Apps that work with Passbook add items to it, but at the moment there are a woeful number of apps (10) that show in the App Store. It will probably be some time before I can let go of Swagg for tracking my gift cards.

Phone

The keypad got a facelift.

Mail

Pull to refresh is official, yes, but there’s also a cool animation that occurs as you pull.

Reminders

There’s a new Today list that draws together overdue tasks and those due today from all your lists. And, from a new dateline at the bottom of the Lists screen, you can choose any date in the future for a list of tasks due on that day.

Your default list for new reminders is now highlighted instead of marked with a check.

Creating new lists is possible without first tapping Edit on the Lists screen.

Calendar

I got 4 new event alerts upon updating to iOS 6 and Calendar showed corresponding invites. I’ve never gotten these before—nobody invites me to anything. More odd is that these were for items on my wife’s Home calendar that I subscribe to, items that she added last week or earlier this week. Turns out there’s a new Shared Calendar Alerts setting; “when enabled, you will be notified of new, modified, or deleted or shared events.” By default, it’s on.

Safari

Safari has a Web Inspector! This requires you to tether your device via USB and connect to it using Safari on the desktop, but it’s a very cool feature for web developers.

Okay, I think everyone knows about iCloud tabs but until today I wasn’t excited about this feature. First of all, I’m not (yet) running Mountain Lion (required) on my primary computer, but I really couldn’t see the allure of having 30 some-odd tabs (I know, I know) on my desktop suddenly show up on my iPhone. However, tabs on one device don’t show up as tabs on another; instead, they show up as bookmarks in a special folder—cool!

Camera

Panorama is freakin’ awesome, with a greater-than-one-hundred-and-eighty-degree field of view.

Settings

Vibrate on Silent” is a new option; switching it off means your phone won’t vibrate at all when the silence switch is enabled.

AMBER alerts” and “Government alerts” are two new options in the Notification Center.

Do Not Disturb” allows you to avoid receiving calls or alerts while your phone is locked, optionally during a set time of day. (I’m not sure if this affects SMS and iMessages.) You can choose to allow calls from everyone, no one or only your Favorites while still silencing alerts. Unfortunately, Favorites doesn’t work as I would like; I’ve been using them for speed dialing, not for those that I want to be able to call me at all hours of the day.

There are new Privacy settings that show you what apps have access not only to your location (as before) and contacts, but calendars, reminders, photos and Bluetooth sharing.

Although there’s no outward change to the Brightness & Wallpaper settings, it does seem that Auto-Brightness is more responsive. It’s particularly noticeable on the lock screen: whereas the lock screen would always be bright for me, it now is dim in low-light settings.

Overall

There are just a lot of changes that make the iPhone (I won’t be able to use iOS 6 on my first-gen iPad) even more enjoyable to use.

Update: You can find more tidbits like these from Chad Williams and on MacStories.