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.
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:
- Go to the Settings App -> General -> Software Update
- 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.
- Install the update. After the download is completed, you’ll confirm a few items and the automated installation will take about 10-15 minutes.
- 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.
New Features for iPad
- 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.