iOS 6: The Basics

Everything you need to know about iOS 6

image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News

The release of a new version of the iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, is usually cause for excitement. That wasn't entirely the case with iOS 6.

Normally Apple users greet the new version of the iOS with joy because it brings dozens, or hundreds, of new features with it, as well as important bug fixes. While iOS 6 did deliver those things, it also left some users grumpy thanks to the new the Apple Maps app, which drew a lot of criticism at its release and even cost one very high-level Apple executive his job.

Other users didn't like that it dropped support for older models and that features didn't work on all devices.

In this article, you can find out if your iPhone is compatible with iOS 6, what features this version offers, and learn all about the history and controversies 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 41iPad 23 
iPhone 3GS21st 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:

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 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.

3iPad 2 does not support: Siri, FaceTime on 3G, and hearing aid support.

Compatibility For Later iOS 6 Releases

Apple released 10 versions of 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.

For full detail on all releases of iOS 6 and other versions of the iOS, check out iPhone Firmware & iOS History.

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.

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, primarily 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 all kinds of 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

iOS 7 was released on September 16, 2013.