Everything You Need to Know About iOS 6

iOS 6 compatible iphone
image credits: iOS 6 logo and iPhone image, Apple Inc.

The introduction of a new version of the iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPod touch (and iPad), is always cause for excitement. That's because each new version brings dozens, or hundreds, of new features with it. But that's not always completely good news.

That's because new versions of the iOS often drop support for older models and sometimes don't run all features on all devices.

That can leave iPhone owners grumpy or looking to upgrade to a new device (or both). 

Another reason some iOS 6 users were grumpy had to do with the Apple Maps app, which drew a lot of criticism at its release and even cost one very high-level Apple executive his job.

In this article, you can find out if your iPhone is compatible with iOS 6, what features it offers, and learn all about the history of iOS 6.

iOS 6 Compatible Apple Devices

The Apple devices that can run iOS 6 are:

iPhoneiPadiPod touch
iPhone 54th generation iPad5th generation iPod touch
iPhone 4S3rd generation iPad4th generation iPod touch
iPhone 4*iPad 2*** 
iPhone 3GS**1st generation iPad mini 

Not all devices can use every feature of iOS 6. Here's a list of which devices can't use certain features:

*iPhone 4 does not support:

  • Siri
  • Maps flyover
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • FaceTime on 3G
  • Hearing aid support

**iPhone 3GS does not support:

  • VIP list in Mail
  • Offline Reading List in Safari
  • Shared Photo Stream in Photos
  • Siri
  • Maps flyover
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • FaceTime on 3G
  • Hearing aid support

***iPad 2 does not support:

  • Siri
  • FaceTime on 3G
  • Hearing aid support

Later iOS 6 Releases

Apple released 10 versions of iOS 6 before replacing it with iOS 7 in 2013, including some bug fixes even after iOS 7 was released.

All devices listed in the chart above are compatible with all iOS 6 versions. For full detail on all releases of iOS 6 and other versions of the iOS, check out iPhone Firmware & iOS History.

iOS 6 Features

The key features added to the iOS with the release of iOS 6 include:

  • Apple Maps app, replacing Google Maps, which had been pre-installed since the first version of the iPhone
  • Support for turn-by-turn directions in Apple Maps
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Passbook
  • FaceTime over cellular networks
  • Expanded Siri features
  • Facebook integration
  • Offline Reading List in Safari
  • Improved privacy controls.

iOS 6 Controversy

While iOS 6 introduced many new features, it also brought with it a lot of controversy, primarily around the Apple Maps app. 

Maps was Apple's first attempt at creating it own, in-house mapping and directions app for the iPhone (previously all of those features had been supplied by Google Maps). While Apple touted all kinds of cool effects, such as 3D flyovers of cities, critics charged that the app lacked essential features such as mass transit directions. Critics also pointed out that the app was buggy, directions were often incorrect, and images in the app were distorted.

Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized to users for the problems.

He reportedly asked Apple's head of iOS development Scott Forstall to make the apology. When Forstall refused, Cook fired him and issued the apology himself, according to reports. 

Since then, Apple has steadily improved Maps with each version of the iOS, making it a much more effective replacement for Google Maps (though that app is still available at the App Store).

Implications for Older Models

Devices not on this list can't use iOS 6, though many of them can use iOS 5 (find out what devices run iOS 5 here). This likely spurred many people at the time to upgrade to a new iPhone or another device.

iOS 6 Release History

  • iOS 6 release: Sept. 19, 2012
  • iOS 6.0.1 release: Nov. 1, 2012
  • iOS 6.0.2 release: Dec. 18, 2012
  • iOS 6.1 release: Jan 28, 2013
  • iOS 6.1.1 release: Feb. 6, 2013
  • iOS 6.1.2 release: Feb. 19, 2013
  • iOS 6.1.3 release: March 19, 2013
  • iOS 6.1.4 release: May 2, 2013
  • iOS 6.1.5 release: Nov. 14, 2013
  • iOS 6.1.6 release: Feb. 21, 2014

iOS 7 was released on September 16, 2013.