Apple starts rolling out iOS 6 ahead of the iPhone 5's launch

By on September 19, 2012, 6:00 PM

Apple is rolling out the latest version of its mobile software ahead of the iPhone 5's launch on Friday, allowing iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S owners to explore iOS 6's new features. Although it isn't a radical overhaul, there's still plenty to see (keep in mind, certain features aren't available on the iPhone 3GS or 4):

Maps - Apple has replaced the iPhone's Google-powered Maps app with a new version that touts turn-by-turn navigation, integrated real-time traffic alerts, interactive 3D views of major cities, more data (such as Yelp reviews) about places on the map, and the ability to input directions vocally via Siri.

Siri - Speaking of which, iOS' voice-activated assistant is now better versed in entertainment, with the ability to report sports scores, check movie showing times  and answer other sports and movie-related questions. It can also provide info about eateries and it can post directly to Facebook and Twitter.

Camera - Among other tweaks, the Camera application in iOS 6 receives a Panorama mode that lets you sweep the phone across a scene to capture a wide image. Based on reviews around the Web, this works pretty well, even in less-than-ideal conditions. Of note, it's only available for the iPhone 4S and 5.

Passbook - Apple has developed a new app that helps organize everything along the lines of movie tickets, boarding passes, retail coupons, loyalty cards and so on. It seems services haven't been enabled in Passbook yet so it's hard to draw conclusions, but some reviewers say the app seems promising.

Other - Safari has iCloud tabs, Photo Stream has more options such as the ability to share specific images with certain friends, FaceTime now works over WWAN, Facebook has been integrated, the Phone app has more controls such as Do Not Disturb and the ability to instantly reply with a text message or set a callback reminder, Mail has a new VIP list for important contacts, while it's easier to add photos and videos to your message, and Apple's YouTube app has been removed in favor of Google's offering.

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