Apple’s iOS 5 update was fantastic. It brought so many awesome new features to the platform and made our devices much better in my opinion. Lots of little things like integration with Twitter, multiple map navigation routes, and the ability to define any word you want with a internal dictionary made iOS 5 one to be thankful for. How does the latest version compare?

iOS 6 was released a few month’s ago with a whole slew of new updates. In my opinion most of the press has been centered around the new map app debacle. Apple got rid of Google maps and introduced us to Apple maps. Everyone was excited about the turn-by-turn navigation and 3D buildings, but who knew that the whole thing would be such a big flop. Even in the heart of Silicon Valley my Apple maps have failed me on more than one occasion.

In spite of that, iOS 6 has features which have left many Apple users wondering how they ever got along without them. Aside from the big, most noticeable new features, there are many subtle changes which have improved the usability of our Apple devices. Here’s a look at 20 of the lesser known features you might have missed.

**In no particular order**

1. Siri is Smarter

Apple sent Siri back to school and now she’s a bit smarter making the app more user friendly. You can speak to Siri using more colloquial language and she does her best to understand. She’s also a more productive assistant able to Tweet and post on Facebook for you.

2. Cellular FaceTime

Wireless carriers are still catching up with this update, but iOS 6 allows users to use FaceTime over cellular networks. Again, not all networks allow this option for free. But I think in the future, now that the cellular FaceTime option is here, more wireless providers will hop on board and allow users the ability to use the feature.

3. Easier App Downloading

You might’ve noticed that you’re not required to enter a password quite as often when downloading new apps. That’s because downloading free apps doesn’t call for a password at all. Also, if you are re-downloading previously installed apps you don’t need to re-enter a password.

4. iPads New Sleek Clock

The iPad as a new clock app. It actually looks very nice. There’s been some disgruntled geeks claiming it was stolen from a Swiss railway company or something, and that is probably true, but it still looks great and functions smoothly. The Swiss can take that up in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

5. “New” Apps

Newly installed apps on your device are now labeled with a blue ribbon in the corner of the icon which says “new”. Users installing lots of new apps may find this little bonus feature useful.

6. Open Apps from Store

When you’re hopping around the App Store downloading and installing new stuff you can access them much easier. If you hang around for your download to complete there is an button to jump straight to the app. It’s nice not to have the App Store close every time you install something new.

7. iMessage Restrictions

After some digging around I found that you can restrict who sends you an iMessage. If you don’t want people you don’t know contacting you through iMessage, then restrict it so only your contacts can use it.

8. Top Bar Color

The thin status bar at the top changes colors depending on what app you are running. The subtle feature has received some criticism. I guess it messes up the feng shui or energy of the page. Maybe the colors clash and some people don’t like that? For me, I don’t notice it.

9. Group Messaging Turn Off

I’m cheating here because this is an iOS 5 feature. I’m pretty slow when it comes to this stuff. You can turn off inclusion in group messages. Go to Settings > Messages and turn group messaging off.

10. New Wallpapers

There are 8 new wallpapers to choose from. It bumps the number of default wallpapers up to 23.

11. Bluetooth Accessibility

Bluetooth settings are now clearly identifiable at the top of the settings page. They are no longer under the Gen. tab which makes toggling Bluetooth on and off much easier.

12. Electronic Signatures

The S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) supports electronic signatures so now you can know for sure who sent the message and it can be time stamped. Under the advanced setting of your mail simply configure the electronic signature information there. Is your mail security up to par?

13. Mail Refresh

I’m pretty sure most users of the new iOS 6 will have noticed the “pull to refresh” feature in their mail settings. If you haven’t, simply open up your mail app and pull it down.

14. Deleting Mail

The option to either delete or archive mail is a lot easier. All you need to do is tap and hold down the delete message button in your email app. This will give you the option to either archive or delete the message.

15. Email Attachments

How annoying was it without the ability to attach photos using the old iOS? Well, now you can! Tap and hold the body of the email and then select insert photo or video.

16. Alarm Songs

If your like me you stopped using the alarm clock because the default wake up sounds were terrible. Now you can go back to using the standard alarm clock and can choose songs from your iTunes library. Is it weird that I use “dueling banjos” from the movie Deliverance?

17. Language Upgrades

When you have conversations with people in other languages the keyboard automatically remembers it. For me that’s a very handy little time-saving feature.

18. Notification Tweeting

You can tweet and post to Facebook from the notification Center. Simply bring down the notification menu and you’ll see it directly under the weather.

19. Safari Sharing

Browsing with Safari has new sharing features. Now when you click the share button at the bottom of the browser you can share it with a couple of new features like Twitter and Facebook. You can also print and bookmark things from this menu.

20. Siri Sports

I know I already mentioned Siri, but this last one is good. You can now ask Siri to check sports scores and stats for most major sports. This works for both professional and college levels. And it’s not just sports scores, you can check player stats and other little facts like player height and weight.

I’m sure I’m missing lots of interesting features with the new iOS update. What are some of the subtle new features/hidden gems that you have found while using the new operating system?

This article was written by Jared Jaureguy. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJaureguy.



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