Why you should update your iPad to the new iOS 6

5 min read

Apple released the much-anticipated iOS 6 software update yesterday for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This free update is centered around adding new features and capabilities to the device, meaning you’re not going to have to relearn how to use the iPad after the update. In fact there are over 200 new features in iOS 6, according to Apple, and several will be particularly useful to pilots. Let’s first look how to perform the update.

You can update your iPad’s software directly from the Settings app.

How to update to iOS 6

When Apple released iOS 5 last year they added a new feature called Over-the-Air Updates, meaning you no longer need to connect your iPad to a computer running iTunes to install an update. Instead you just go to the Settings app on the iPad and download the update over WiFi. Best of all the device retains all your settings, media and apps, so you don’t need to download everything again or sync to restore all your media. The update process is effortless and almost always pain-free, but we still recommend backing up your iPad to iCloud or a computer ‘just in case’ before updating. Also make sure to connect to a power source before beginning:

  1. Go to the Settings App -> General -> Software Update
  2. Select Download and Install. Update sizes range from 500MB to 2.5GB depending on device type and what iOS you’re updating from, so this may take over an hour to download. You can still use the iPad while the download continues in the background and you’ll receive an alert when it’s ready.
  3. Install the update. After the download is completed, you’ll confirm a few items and the automated installation will take about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Sign-in to your accounts. After the update is completed, the iPad will guide you through some initial steps that include signing back in to your Apple & iCloud accounts, and specifying a few preferences.
And that’s it. When you arrive back to the home screen you’ll notice that everything should be organized and look the same as it did before the update.  Now let’s check out some of the new features and settings in iOS 6.

New Features for iPad

While the complete list of new features and changes is too large to cover here, we’re going to highlight the big ones that you’ll be able to start taking advantage of right away:
  • Dedicated Bluetooth Setting – You’ll now find a dedicated Bluetooth toggle in the main Settings app for quicker pairing with aviation GPSs.
  • Apple Maps app – Apple is no longer using Google as the supplier of data to the maps app. Instead they have created their own app to perform similar functions, including a slick new feature for iPad 3 that allows you to explore a 3D view of terrain and buildings in select cities. The maps requires an internet connection, so they won’t be available when you’re out of range of WiFi or cell service (and there’s no way to save them for offline use). The maps app will also now provide turn-by-turn directions if you have 3G/4G data connection while on the road.
  • Siri – Apple has included Siri, the voice-directed assistant, in iOS 6 for iPad 3 users. This allows you to speak voice commands to the iPad, allowing you to set reminders, take notes, launch apps, and even research things on the web, all hands free.
  • Facebook – Facebook is now fully integrated with the iPad, allowing you to quickly post items, share photos and automatically see Facebook events on the calendar app.
  • New Clock app– An iPad-sized version of the Apple Clock app is a new feature in iOS 6. This includes alarm, stopwatch and timer features, and is very useful in the airplane. A handy World Clock page even shows the weather and time for your selected cities on a world map.
  • Improved App Store app – the app store has been updated with a new interface to make it easier to browse and get info on apps.
  • Multiple Photo Streams – you can now specify individual photos and albums to share using Photo Streams, making it easier to share only the photos you want with specific people.
  • Improved Mail App – Apple has added some useful new features in the Mail app, including a new VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from certain people, the ability to  insert photos or videos when composing mail and a new “pull down” gesture to refresh mailboxes.
  • Do Not Disturb – this feature in the Settings app is designed to keep your iPad quiet and the screen dark in the middle of the night. When enabled, app alerts and FaceTime calls will not sound a chime or display a message on the screen when the iPad is in sleep mode.

You’ll also notice that the standard Apple YouTube app is now gone. Google has developed a brand new version of the app, and you can download it free from the app store.

Should you update?

With the addition of all these great new features this update is almost a no-brainer. We’ll add our typical disclaimer that you should first verify that your favorite apps run OK on iOS 6, but we haven’t seen any yet that show cause for concern. In fact the ForeFlight Mobile and Garmin Pilot apps have already been updated to support iOS 6, and the current version of WingX seems to run just fine. Let us know if you come across any other new features beneficial to pilots in the comments below.


17 replies
  1. Steve Bower
    Steve Bower says:

    Am I right in assuming that the Maps app on my WiFi only iPad 2 will cease working when I’m driving if I upgrade to IOS 6?

  2. Glenn Darr
    Glenn Darr says:

    My ipad says my software is up to date and my iOS i 5.1.1. I have an iPad first generation, so maybe iOS 6 is not needed for me.

  3. Kevin Sanders
    Kevin Sanders says:

    FYI After I upgraded to iOS 6, the geo referenced approach plates did not display my aircraft (the maps did just not the plates)) . Under settings I got the message “can not connect to foreflight” After I got home and connected to WiFi it was able to verify my pro subscription and works fine now

  4. Kayak Jack
    Kayak Jack says:

    Apple photo mapping just happened to catch me pulling my plane out of the hangar! An obvious reason to upgrade. ;=)

  5. Tim
    Tim says:

    Did Sporty’s actually use the new Apple Map app, or just parrot Apple’s press releases? It is inferior to Google Maps, and 3-D views have already been available in Google Earth app . . .

  6. Rich Erickson
    Rich Erickson says:

    I agree with Rick A and Tim….The Big Reason NOT to upgrade is Apple Maps…Give it another 6 months or year! Plus, none of these changes have anything to do with aviation…????

  7. Ward Montgmery
    Ward Montgmery says:

    Tell Apple they blew it again. Missing from the list of times is GMT, the grandfather of all international time and basis for aviation worldwide.

  8. Ron Simonton
    Ron Simonton says:

    Sorry, but my weather apps, and others, are terrific on Google maps/earth — the Apple Maps is a reported disaster, and I will not update until it can be fixed. I may have to switch to an Android tablet if Apple cannot get it right.

  9. Chris Neilson
    Chris Neilson says:

    This isn’t a show stopper, but I did install the new ios 6 on my iPad. Since the install when I first turn on my iPad the “slide to unlock” does not work. I have to let the screen timer out and when I tape the power button again the “slide to unlock” then works properly.

  10. Raul Mendez
    Raul Mendez says:

    Feel like a second class citizen when Apple left the original, 2 year old, Ipad out of this iOS6 upgrade. Does that mean that we have to buy a new one every other year in order to able to keep up with progress?

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Apple will not release any more updates to their iOS that will work with the original iPad. The single processor and small amount of RAM would make it run poorly on iOS6.

      Fortunately, app developers should still produce apps that are compatible with the older operating system for many more years.

      Here’s a good explanation why the iPad 1 became obsolete so fast. http://www.marco.org/2012/09/30/ipad-1

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