iOS 6 Is Now Available to Download

The new version of iOS is finally here. You can download it now for free, provided you have at least an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, or fourth generation iPod Touch. Below, we run down what’s new in iOS 6, but keep in mind that not all new features will be available on all devices.

There are two ways to get iOS 6 on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. You can download it through the latest version of iTunes by connecting your device to your computer and clicking “Check for Update,” or you can download it directly to your iOS device over Wi-Fi by going in to Settings > General > Software Update. Either way, it’s always best to back up your device before upgrading.

So what’s new in iOS 6? We’ve listed the highlights below, but unfortunately it’s pretty light for gamers. That’s disappointing, but we all use our iOS devices for more than just playing games. For a more thorough breakdown of what’s new in iOS 6, check out Apple’s “What’s New” page here.

Game Center – You can now challenge friends in any game that uses Game Center. To do so, go into the Game Center app and find an achievement or leaderboard ranking you’re proud of, and tap on it. That brings up a screen that shows you how you stack up against your friends. If you tap a friend’s name, you can then send a challenge to your friend to try to beat your score, time, etc. It’s not much, but at least it’s something.

Maps – To sever as many ties with Google as possible, Apple has given the Maps app a significant makeover that relies on their own mapping system instead of Google’s tried and true one. The new Maps app offers several new features, but the most useful one is turn-by-turn directions (read aloud, of course, by Siri).

Siri Improvements – Speaking of Siri, Apple’s artificial intelligence program now has access to new databases, including sports scores and stats and movie information and showtimes. She can also open apps, which is pretty cool.

Facebook Integration – Now when you tap the “Share” button, you’ll be able to post items to your Facebook account. You can use this to post photos, your location, or your Game Center scores. Friends’ Facebook information is also integrated into the Contacts app, so any time they update their email address or phone number on Facebook, it’s automatically updated in Contacts.

Photo Streams – You can now share your photos more easily. Depending on what hardware your friends or family have, you can have any pictures you want show up directly on their Apple devices or viewable for them on the Web.

Passbook – This is a new app that houses all of your boarding passes, movie tickets, coupons, loyalty cards, etc. It seems kind of futuristic at this point, but the hope is that Passbook will allow you to carry less paper and plastic with you everywhere you go.

FaceTime – Apple’s video chat app, which used to work only over Wi-Fi, can now connect over a cell signal… unless you’re on some plans with AT&T.

Do Not Disturb – When you don’t want to be bothered you can now turn on Do Not Disturb, and your phone will automatically send callers to your voicemail. You can, however, set favorite contacts, who will always be able to get through to you. Also, if you decline to answer an incoming call, you can now tap a button to either be reminded to call them back later, or reply with a pre-written text message.

Safari – If you use Safari on your computer, you can now sync your open tabs through Safari on your iOS devices– handy for those with lots of open tabs, and places to go.

Panoramic Photos – You can now take panoramic photos from within the Camera app. Watch our iPhone 5 hands-on video for a look at how this works (it’s pretty cool).

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