Apple iOS 6.1
By Matt Chapman, 29 Jan 2013
The easiest way to apply the new update is by going to the Settings menu and choosing General, Software Update. However, users who prefer to connect to iTunes to perform the update still have that option.
Before making this kind of change, users should always back up their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad so that if anything goes wrong it can be restored to its previous settings. Syncing it with iTunes or finding the 'Back Up Now' option in the iCloud settings will achieve this.
Similar to the jump from iOS 5.0 to 5.1 many of the changes are fairly minor. Additions and bug fixes for iOS 6.1 include:
- Increased 4G support
- Apple Maps problem reporting
- Enhanced music controls in lock mode
- Virtual reflections
- Individual track downloads from iCloud
- Swipe to remove songs
- US movie ticket sales via Siri
- Passbook welcome screen
- Advertising Identifier reset button
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Apple's headline announcement for iOS 6.1 is increased support for LTE 4G connections around the world. The company has added 36 new iPhone carriers and 23 new iPad carriers, giving travellers better connections across the US and in Canada, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Kuwait, the UAE and throughout Europe. A full list of international networks can be found online at www.apple.com/iphone/LTE and www.apple.com/ipad/LTE. Only 4th-generation iPads, the iPad mini and the iPhone 5 support the new carriers.
Apple Maps Glitch Reporting
The problems with the Apple Maps service have been well documented and the company has now made it even easier for users to report issues. Tapping the lower-right corner of a map screen brings up a large "Report a Problem" button as one of the options. This had previously been included as a much smaller text link.
The controls for the iPhone's music functions that can be used when the phone is locked have been redesigned to look more like the Music app. As part of this change, the buttons to choose the previous and next tracks have been spaced wider apart, so it is harder to press them by accident when you are trying to use the play/pause button instead. The virtual reflections that appear on the volume knob also now vary their angle using readings from the phone's accelerometer.
Music Download Management
The iOS 6.1 update has also reinstated the ability to download individual music tracks from the iCloud service. This feature had already been available in iOS 5 but was lost for some reason in the move to iOS 6. Each track now has its own iCloud icon that can be pressed to move it on to the Apple device, so users don't have to download whole playlists to hear one song.
Users can also make more room on their Apple media player by swiping from left-to-right and choosing to remove songs from the local storage. This works for individual tracks, whole albums or it can be used to remove all the work by one artist. Any content that is removed is not lost but remains in the iCloud library.
Purchase movie tickets through Siri
American users now have the chance to ask the Siri voice control system to buy tickets for nearby movie theatres. Users must already have the Fandango app installed to use this option - otherwise Siri prompts them to download it - and the cinemas must obviously sell tickets via Fandango for it to work.
Passbook 'Welcome' Screen
Passbook is Apple's system for collecting all your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards and more in one place. The iOS 6.0 interface already created a "Welcome Pass" screen when you added your first item. Now iOS 6.1 offers a similar page as standard, explaining the Passbook system and providing links to apps that work with it.
Advertising Identifier reset button
Worried about which companies may be tracking your online usage? Or fed up of getting so-called location-based or targeted advertising that has somehow got the wrong end of the stick about where you are or what you like? The iOS 6.0 software introduced a new Advertising Identifier feature, which could be set to "Limit Ad Tracking". Apple has now also added a reset button that can start your tracking history from scratch, so if you do want to see adverts or offers that match your current needs you can wipe away anything that went before.
Apple hasn't tried to reinvent the wheel with its upgrade from iOS 6.0 to 6.1. Instead it has focused on fixing some known issues and making a few tweaks that should improve the overall usability of its products.
Potentially the biggest change is the increased LTE coverage around the world. Apple may have been late to the 4G party, but high-speed links for business and pleasure travellers alike will make packing that iPod, iPad or iPhone a must - assuming you've bought the latest compatible model.
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