iOS 6 isn't coming to your iPhones and (newer) iPads for another few months, but a a lot of its best features are available through third-party apps and jailbreak hacks right now. If you want to get in on the action early, here are a few downloads you'll want to check out.
Brand New Maps With Live Traffic
The new maps app in iOS 6 brings a new data source, live traffic, and turn-by-turn navigation. This is definite catch-up territory, since Android has had this option for quite a while. While we're expecting Apple's update to be slick, similar features do already exist in Waze. The one big problem is that it relies on crowdsourced data and that's relatively sparse in Australia, and its speech-to-text option doesn't work outside North America.
Download Waze (Free)
Do Not Disturb
One exciting system-wide update is Do Not Disturb. Setting your phone to vibrate while you sleep, or simply don't want to be bothered, isn't always enough. Do Not Disturb allows you to shut off any type of notification so you're not bothered during any time period. On top of that, you can add exceptions so that you are interrupted in case of an emergency. While no current app can do this, there is an option for those of you who are jailbroken. Previously mentioned iSleepWell is a $US1 tweak that puts your phone into aeroplane Mode when you place it face down. This ensures that no data is going to come in and bother you, but that your alarms will still be able to go off. While not quite as robust as Apple's upcoming solution, it's enough to do the job until iOS 6 is released.
iSleepWell ($1, available on Cydia)
Passbook is a handy app that organises all your tickets and passes (e.g. a boarding pass for a flight) in one place. While this should prove to be pretty useful, there are plenty of apps that do this already. Everything buckets like Evernote are especially good at this, as you can create a notebook specifically for your tickets and passes that not only will be available on your mobile device but computer and any web browser as well. If Evernote is not your cup of tea, all you really need is a good, PDF-syncing app to keep your important tickets and passes handy. What works really well is just signing up for Dropbox and saving PDF copies of any tickets or passes to a folder. That way you can grab the iPhone app and just access any of those PDFs whenever you need them. It's not the world's most robust solution, but it's very simple and easy.
Although Facebook has a great official app already available on the iPhone, achieving tighter integration with the social networking service is currently an iOS 6-only affair — that is, unless you're jailbroken. A little tweak known as Fusion will alter iOS 5's system-wide Twitter integration so that it supports Facebook and other social networks as well. You just install it via Cydia, sign in to Facebook via Fusion's settings, and post to Facebook just like you would normally post to Twitter on your iPhone. It's simple, convenient, and uses the interface you're probably already used to.
Fusion ($2, available on Cydia)
Easy Photo Uploads
Sometimes the little things Apple adds to iOS are the most appreciated, and easy photo uploads are one of them. While sharing in some ways is pretty easy on an iDevice, it's not so easy when you want to upload a photo through your web browser. While iOS 6 will bring this functionality, it's not here yet. If you're jailbroken, however, you can have it right now with a tweak called Safari Upload Enabler. It'll not only let you upload directly from your camera roll, but also from other parts of the file system. It costs $US3, but it's worthwhile if you can't wait the few months for direct uploading.
Safari Upload Enabler ($3, available on Cydia)
Reply With Message
When you're busy you can't always answer the phone or a text message, but sometimes you do want to let the person know you'll get back to them soon. Reply With Message is Apple's answer to this problem, allowing you to tap a pre-typed reply to any caller to let them know you're busy and can't answer at the moment. While this update will be a bit more convenient, jailbreak favourite biteSMS already offers something similar. Its Quick Compose and Quick Reply features will allow you to make a gesture and quickly send a text message to the caller or sender. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a great start.
BiteSMS (Free, available on Cydia)
Multiple Signatures in Mail
Apple's Mail app isn't bad, but it's not nearly as good as Sparrow. Not only can Sparrow manage multiple signatures to use between different mail accounts, it's just really a better app overall. If you're not familiar with it already, be sure to check out our initial impressions. While it's not perfect and carries a $2.99 price tag, it is already a giant step up from Apple's built-in option.
Download Sparrow ($3)