iOS 6: The Basics

All of the most important details about iOS 6

Man walking by a mural of an iPhone 5

 Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

People are usually excited at the release of a new version of iOS — the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. That wasn't totally the case with iOS 6.

Apple users usually welcome a new version of the iOS because it delivers dozens or hundreds, of new features, as well as important bug fixes. While iOS 6 did deliver those things, it also left some users grumpy. Problems with the Apple Maps app in particular drew a lot of criticism and even cost one very high-level Apple executive his job. Other users didn't like that this version dropped support for older models and that some features didn't work on all devices.

Read this article to learn if your iPhone is compatible with iOS 6, what features this version offers, and all about the history and controversies of iOS 6.

iOS 6 Compatible Apple Devices

The Apple devices that can run iOS 6 are:

iPhone iPad iPod touch
iPhone 5 4th generation iPad 5th generation iPod touch
iPhone 4S 3rd generation iPad 4th generation iPod touch
iPhone 41 iPad 23
iPhone 3GS2 1st generation iPad mini

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

  • 1iPhone 4 does not support: Siri, Maps flyover, turn-by-turn navigation, FaceTime on 3G, and hearing aid support.
  • 2iPhone 3GS does not support: VIP lists 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.
  • 3iPad 2 does not support: Siri, FaceTime on 3G, and hearing aid support.

Compatibility For Later iOS 6 Releases

Apple released 9 updates to iOS 6 before replacing it with iOS 7 in 2013. It even released some bug fixes for iOS 6 after iOS 7 was released. All devices listed in the chart above are compatible with all versions of iOS 6. Devices not on the list above can't use iOS 6, though many of them can use iOS 5.

Key iOS 6 Features

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

iOS 6 Maps App Controversy

While iOS 6 introduced many new features, it also delivered some controversy around the Apple Maps app.

Maps was Apple's first attempt at creating its own, in-house mapping and directions app for the iPhone (all of those features had been previously supplied by Google Maps). While Apple touted cool effects such as 3D flyovers of cities, critics charged that the app lacked essential features like 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 then 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 Google Maps is still available at the App Store).

iOS 6 Release History

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

Apple released iOS 7 on September 16, 2013.