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.


    The text expansion is a great idea. Is there anything similar for Android in the play store?

    Dear Apple, I just want you to know that I threw my iPad 3 and iPhone 4s out the window this morning. For real. Then I ordered the Google Nexus 7 tablet and Galaxy Nexus phone via express mail to arrive Monday. WHY ON EARTH did you take away my Google Maps app and YouTube App during the iOS6 update without asking me first? We're not friends anymore.

      It's been a long time coming... Google already has their own YouTube app on the App Store and reports are a Google Maps app is imminent. In the meantime you could have just gone to but yeah... enjoy your new android devices...

      You pissed at Apple? Well, I hope you had the dignity to clean it up.

      They shouldn't have to tell you personally. Every beta tester discovered this of their own accord and many posted on the internet about these.

      Safari 6 removed RSS feeds, and so there are many who either have not upgraded, or found alternate options before doing so. How did they find out? The various posts on the internet about it. Apple didn't need to send out another press release.

      What did you want them to say? The legalese version of "We're sorry but Google has started charging their partners for mapping data to help promote their own apps and devices, and also they've been hounding us for lost revenue where they cannot place adverts before youtube videos. We could change these apps into subscription-based services, or we could move you onto Google's own platform (Youtube and separate mapping app/site) and replace built-in features with things that won't be yanked out from under us later (OpenStreetMaps).

      Please click accept when you have read this statement."

      To maintain your anger, please inform me that you do, in fact, read EULAs.

      So you "For real" threw nearly $2,000 of equipment out the window because they took away Google Maps and Youtube, when there is already a Google youtube app (granted needs some work, like airplay the video not just the audio), and with a rumoured Google maps app coming (and a semi-functional mobile website to use or various other 3rd party apps).

      Even though upgrading was optional, and its been widely known for months this was happening.

      I would have bought them off you cheaply since I'm not upgrading to iP4 to iP5.
      Whilst I'm sure you meant "For real" as in "i didnt really, im just gonna say it for effect" that pisses me off more than wasting $2,000 because of an easily solvable software issue.

    You don't need to open email to delete it. Just swipe from right to left on the offending mail in the list and a delete button appears. :)

    It would be good to have a feature that turns off your password lock feature when you're running maps.

      But what happens if you drop your phone using maps or you arrive and don't turn it off and it gets stolen, this removes the need for a password lock.

      Solution? Turn on 1 hour long locks when using maps.

    Another awesome feature is when it playing an audiobook/podcast the skip track button have been replaced with rewind/fastforward 15 sec. It's everywhere too, lock screen, running app tray and in the iPod app.

      They've done a top job on the Podcasts app.

    Wow, so happy I still have the 3GS with iOS 5.0.1

    Unbelievable amount of bollocks about a free map app. It's a fucking phone, not a satnav.

      The Nokia 3310 was a phone, all smartphones are decent portable computers we use for a lot more than just making calls.
      If maps are an included feature, it's not wrong for people to expect it to work well.

        +11 They'd sure be bitching if picture texting wasn't working...

        Or facebook integration...

      Andy must be a software developer for Apple.

    I can't use a song as a ringtone or alarm tone as I begin to hate it pretty damn quickly.

    My favourite thing with iOS 6 is how ridiculously fast Safari is now.

    Andy move on mate

    Hmm, number 2 doesn't seem to work as expected, at least with gmail.

    Pressing and holding does bring up the two options, but regardless of which you click the message is archived, not deleted.

    Maybe it only works with iCloud mail?

    (See this thread - - for other reports.)

    I'm done with Apple. The 5 is a dud with a crap battery, no maps, no Flash, no NFC, a stupid bug that makes the screen randomly zoom to 500% and it looks like a three year old iPhone 4. Samsung will make a phone with a borderless screen and the iPhone won't be cool anymore. It had its day, thanks for the memories etc..

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