iOS 6: 5 Things To Like

Apple's new mobile operating system is finally available. Here are five great things about iOS 6.
iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
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Apple made iOS 6 available to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch on Wednesday. The new platform brings with it more than 200 new features, according to Apple, and a slight refresh in the way the operating system looks.

I've been beta testing iOS 6 on the iPhone 4S for several months, but I had not installed iOS 6 on my iPad before it was released to the general public. After using it for several hours, here are things I found that I really like.

1. Facebook Integration: Apple added Twitter to iOS 5 in 2011, which left many scratching their heads. Where's Facebook? A year later, it's baked into iOS 6, that's where. Why is this a big deal? It makes sharing things to your Facebook wall much easier. Rather than copying links and pasting them into your timeline or manipulating photos, the new sharing tools require but a few button presses and auto-magically sync things back and forth. It's not the biggest new feature in the world, but it makes sharing nearly painless.

2. Do Not Disturb: More and more people take their smartphones and tablets to bed with them. It's a total bummer when your device receives a bunch of emails in the middle of the night and sets off notification alerts and wakes you. With Do Not Disturb, you can set periods when notifications leave you the heck alone. Not only can this help save on some Zzz's, it can help save your sanity.

[ Not all is rosy in Apple world. See Apple iOS 6 Maps App Flops. ]

3. Shared Photo Stream: Photo Stream automatically uploads photos captured with the iPhone or iPad to Apple's iCloud servers. It can be set to sync with iPhoto on Apple computers, as well. The problem is, Photo Stream has always synced all the photos captured by the mobile device. This could be ... embarrassing ... if you're not careful about what you take pictures of. The new version of Photo Stream gives users more granular control over which photos are shared and with whom.

4. Safari Syncing: With iOS 6, users of multiple Apple device will be happy with the new features of Safari. The most appealing new feature is the ability to sync open tabs from the desktop to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. This means if you're browsing three or four websites on your computer, you can pick up right where you left off on the iPhone or iPad. Convenient. (For the record, Google's Chrome browser already offers this feature to iOS and Android devices.) The new version of Safari also has a full-screen view when surfing in landscape orientation, and can now save not only links, but entire Web pages for offline reading.

5. PassBook: PassBook isn't available on the iPad, but it is available to the iPhone and iPod Touch. PassBook collects tickets, loyalty cards, and coupons and lets them be redeemed digitally. It is somewhat limited at launch, as the number of partner organizations that are accepting PassBook is small. The initial partners include American Airlines, Belly Card, Delta Airlines, Fandango, Live Nation, Lufthansa,, Sephora to Go, Starbucks, Target, TicketMaster, United Airlines, W. Hotels, and Walgreens. I was able to use in on the iPhone at Walgreens recently to redeem a coupon. (The app requires that you have PassBook-enabled apps that coincide with the merchant. In this case, I also had to download and set up the Walgreens mobile app. The process was clunky.) It worked pretty well, though the sales clerk was perplexed for a few minutes. It's not near-field communications (NFC) and instant, on-the-go payments, but it is the next best thing. I look forward to more merchants signing up with PassBook.