Top 10 Secret Features Of iOS 6

Apple released iOS 6 this week, bringing a handful of new features to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. While they defined many of the flagship features, several were left unsaid. These are our 10 favourite secret features in iOS 6.

10. Pull To Refresh

Pull to refresh is one of the greatest gestures that Apple took next to forever to adopt. iOS 6 finally allows you to pull down to refresh your mail accounts and various other data sources. Ignore the reload button and start swiping down.

9. Loads Of New Emoji

Some people love their emoji -- the cute icons you can add to messages, emails, or really anywhere that accepts text in iOS. Apple just added a ton of new options. If you have your emoji keyboard enabled already, you don't have to do anything. If not, you can enable it in the Settings app by going to General -> Keyboard -> Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard. That will bring up a list. Choose Emoji and you're all set.

8. Limit Ad Tracking

Everyone's trying to track you on the web, and your phone is no different. If you'd rather advertisers not track your activity and serve up targeted ads, iOS 6 lets you turn off tracking with a simple switch. Just head to Settings > General > About > Advertising and flip the switch to On. It may take a little while for you to stop seeing targeted ads, but soon enough your activity should be much more private.

7. Wake Up To A Song

Apple updated the Clock app -- which I still hold to be my favourite native app -- to give the alarm functionality a boost. No longer do you have to wake up to one of your ringtones. Instead, you can pick any song in your library. You could even make a recording of yourself telling you to wake the hell up, sync it to your iDevice, and open your eyes to a sunny day and your own, obnoxious voice. Or you could just pick a song that you like. Regardless, you now have a choice. That's very much appreciated.

6. Late Night Listening

Although not available on all devices, newer iPhones and iPads have a new EQ setting: Late Night. This option lowers bass levels and attempts to make your music less-intrusive in the evening so you can listen and fall asleep easily without being distracted by anything too jarring. Why Apple didn't include this option on earlier devices is beyond us, but iOS 6 has shown how much they like to unnecessarily limit their software to keep you from getting off the upgrade treadmill.

5. Only Receive Message Alerts From Your Contacts

Don't care if you get an iMessage from an unknown source? You don't have to. If you head into the Settings app, then Notifications, then Messages, you can set your alerts to only show up for your contacts. If you don't want to be bothered by people who aren't worth sticking in your contacts -- like spam message bots, for example -- iOS 6 lets you ignore them.

4. Sync Your Text Expansion Shortcuts Across Devices

Apple added text expansion to iOS 5, and it was awesome, letting you type in long usernames, addresses, and other text with just a few strokes on your keyboard. We showed you some essential shortcuts to set up, and now iOS 6 has made the feature even better, letting you sync it between your other iOS devices (like an iPod touch and an iPad) -- along with your custom keyboard dictionary. To do so, you'll need an iCloud account. Then, just head to Settings > iCloud, and scroll down to Documents & Data. Tap it, flip the switch to On, and do the same on your other iOS 6 devices. Your custom dictionary and shortcuts should stay in sync between all your devices.

3. Launch Apps With Siri

Apple told us Siri got smarter in iOS 6, but they neglected to mention that she'd launch apps for you. All you have to do is activate Siri and then say the word "launch" plus the name of the app you want to open. While this may seem a little lazy, it's really useful if you have a bunch of apps and don't necessarily remember where they all are. You no longer need to search -- Siri can do the work for you.

2. Archive Or Delete Messages In Mail

A common Mail complaint among Gmail users has long been the need to choose between archiving and deleting a message. iOS just never provided a way to choose on the fly. Now you can. To do this, open a message, tap and hold the Archive button, and make your choice. The unfortunate reality is that you have to actually open the message to do this. You can't tap and hold the Archive button in list view to get these options. That said, it's a welcome improvement. We still prefer Sparrow, though.

1. Walking Directions In Maps

People are not happy with the new Maps app in iOS 6. It's full of problems. One of the major complaints is that it only provides driving directions, leaving walkers, bikers, and public transit users behind. The good news is that Apple didn't leave out these features entirely. In fact, walking directions are still available. To find them, just tap the bent arrow "directions" button in Maps and you'll see your recent destinations.

From there, you can toggle between driving, walking, and public transit. Walking directions will work without issue. Public transit, on the other hand, will try to route you to another app (and fail, for now). Hopefully we'll see Apple improve Maps quickly and bring back these important, lost features. In the meantime, if this secret feature isn't enough to satisfy you then check out Lumatic. It might do the trick.

This story originally appeared on Lifehacker.



    The lock screen now dims to ambient light too. Used to blind me when unlocking in the dark.

    I didn't know about that ad tracking and its nicely stashed away where you wouldn't see it too. Nice

      That setting has a big downside for app creators - it means we can't easily figure out how people found out about our app. Basically that means we have to pay for advertising via a "TV" model where we can't reward effective, targeted, less annoying ads from innovative advertising networks but can only pay to "blast everyone" using big players. It also undermines free but ad sponsored "lite" apps. Careful what you wish for people ... this will lead to less app diversity and more ads that are just a waste of space (eg pinterest ads to gamers). Great news for advertising firms though - as a guy who runs one said to me recently "the more data, the more you get f&*$ed" - he can make more money when advertisers have less information about what works and what does not.

      Targeting of ads is GOOD people, not bad ...

    Pull to refresh has been in droid for a long time, When does google's lawsuit start?

      Probably after Twitter sues Google for copying that feature too.

      You mean Loren Brichter's lawsuit — because he invented it in his development of Tweetie for iOS:

    I've found that since I've updated to iOS 6, I'm unable to tap and save images directly from tumblr etc. Instead, I have to screenshot and then crop photos. I don't really know why. Help?

      Yes you can, tap on the pic. And then when the pic pops up press an hold on the pic and the the save button will come up.

        Yeah, I have tried that but when I go to my photo app it hasn't actually got the photo in it that I had just saved. I tried reinstalling the tumblr app and its still the same.

          Ya it goes into a Seperate folder but should still show up

      Have you updated your Tumblr app? I used to have that issue until I updated.

    iPhone has had pull to refresh for ages, I thought...

      I think the main reference to this is in the mail app now instead of the reload button in the bottom left corner. I'm still getting used to it.

    That's it. This really is not a new version, it's a point release

    Custom vibration patterns are worth mentioning too. Pretty cool.

      This has been available under accessibility options for ages.

    I wish they could put siri on ipod touch4g ios 6

    It can remember corporate wi-Fi password too, at least in Monash university network

    My keyboard shortcuts won't work on my iPhone since I updated. They are still there. But they don't work. I tried deleting some and re adding. But still won't work

      Oh I fixed it. By turning "passport"off. Strange

        I can't get my shortcuts to work either!!! How do u turn passports off??

    Actually isn't this IOS 5s ? :-)

    New update is crap. It takes too long, the new app store layout is rubbish and it keeps randomly going back to the home screen whenever i open the app store. The cons greatly outweigh the pros and this is probably tye worst update yet.

    I would just like my iPhone 5 to last for 4 hours before the battery becomes dead flat!

    Am considering IO6 upgrade but concerned I'll lose Google Maps.

    Seamless backup to cloud and restore. Ability to switch off LTE. No requirement to use a computer for updates or music. iTunes in the cloud means you can always download your purchases.

    Would like a Elvis emicon

      I just did the upgrade from iOS 5 to 6 on my iPhone4 without using iTunes. Backed up to iCloud and then setup my new iPhone5 without plugging anything into my PC, with all my content seemelessly moved over.
      Works great.

    Since I've updated to iOS 6 my iTunes icon as well as others disappeared but not sure how to get them back?

    ..... How does "walking directions in map" .. is a top 10 secret ?... and it's number 1..... for a native Map app, it should be as a standard nowadays... not something to be overly proud of... and definitely not a top secret *sigh*

    You could.always do 10 :/

    Wake Up To A Song.... guys this is amazing .....even though my ancient old Nokia can do the same thing.

      Cranium is experiencing some sort of internal explosion right now.
      Hey it only took apple 4 or so years to implement 'custom message tones'.

      Half of these features are things you'd expect in a beta release of the very first product. More apple marketing aimed at blind fools who are now saying "Oh wow this feature is excellent, Apple are so good"

        Yeah, except Apple was focused on shipping the first fully–featured web browser on an ARM device in the betas of iOS 1.0. You know, that feature you now take for granted on every smartphone in the world.

          They said nothing about a web browser.

    I hope they get sued for Pull to Refresh.

      Pull to Refresh was in Tweetie for iPhone before it was part of Android, as far as I am aware.

    How do you get maps voice activation to work?

    You can view driving/walking directions from the lock screen, which I find very handy. I hate having to pull over in my car, just to unlock my phone to see where the next turn is.

    All are very useful functions, apple has improved lot-of function in iOS 6..

    Is this update worth it if you have an iPod touch, 4th generation? It says you need over 2gb of space and I only 8gb of space and I have heaps of games and music. Should I delete some games and music to get this update or not?

    It's awesome in favor of me to have a site, which is valuable for my know-how. thanks admin

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