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New iOS 6 features that are old news

Any major update to an operating system brings in a host of new features to the platform. The Apple iOS is no different and the upcoming iOS 6 has over 200 new functions, but are all of them new and unseen? Here's a rundown of five that are new to iO6 but already appear in other mobile phone operating systems.

1. Do not disturb feature

This allows calls and messages to be received without displaying notifications until the feature has been disabled. This function is aimed at use overnight, where the phone can be left powered in a more night-time friendly mode. Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets have had this feature since 2008, from the BlackBerry 4.7 OS that arrived on the Storm handset. RIM aptly calls this service 'bedside mode', as it will be mostly used during the night, with the phone at the side of the bed. This setting dims the screen considerably, disables emails, text messages, BBMs and calls from waking up the device, and consequently, the phone's owner at an ungodly hour. This is more conveniently located than it is on iOS 6. Bedside mode is found as an option in the clock app, which is used for setting the alarm, just before going to sleep.

2. FaceTime over mobile phone network

Apple's video-calling service, FaceTime, has only been confined to the comfort zone of Wi-Fi. This ensures a good, solid and reliable signal, but those who would have found the feature useful when away from a Wi-Fi connection are left without any means to use FaceTime. This will change in iOS 6, as using FaceTime will be possible over a mobile phone network and not just through Wi-Fi. Video-calling isn't a new feature to mobile phones by any means, but it's a new ability for Apple handsets. The iPhone 4, released in 2010, was the first Apple phone to have a front-facing camera and it was able to utilise FaceTime. The iPad didn't even contain a camera until last year, with the introduction of the iPad 2 and its front-, and rear-facing cameras. The benefit of FaceTime is that it can be used across suitably equipped Macs, iPads and iPhones. This isn't a new addition to the mobile world either, as applications such as Skype have offered this since 2011 on Android devices. Fring has offered this from 2009, starting with Nokia S60 Symbian phones. In 2010, Fring caused some controversy by releasing 3G video-calling in its iOS app, although the service was halted a short time after it was enabled.

3. Turn-by-turn maps

Apple uses elements of Google Maps for its mobile devices, but turn-by-turn has never been natively implemented. iOS 6 is bringing in turn-by-turn features akin to what Google already offers in its Android platform. TomTom brought a turn-by-turn solution to the iPhone, but only in a paid-for app and has done so since mid-2009. That company has also offered this software to other phone operating systems - as far back as 2004 on Windows mobile and PalmOS. Now that Google Maps has been dropped, TomTom has confirmed that it's licensed its content to Apple for use in iOS 6. It has been established that TomTom's maps are being used, but it's unclear as to the extent of the company's involvement with the turn-by-turn feature. Nokia has been delivering free turn-by-turn navigation to its mobile phones since January 2010, in the form of Ovi Maps, now Nokia Maps. These maps are all preinstalled, so there's no need for the phone to download them when using navigation.

4. Reply to an incoming call with a text message

If someone calls while you are busy, iOS 6 now lets you respond with a text message. This is done by selecting a range of automatic text messages such as: "I'll call you later", "I'm on my way", "What's up?" or by creating a custom one. These all begin with, "Can't talk right now", just before the selectable text wraps up the message. The whole message is then sent to the person calling the phone, instead of you answering it. This is, of course, more polite than just ignoring the call and it offers some indication as to why you can't answer it. If this all sounds like a revolutionary feature, it shouldn't. For instance, back in 2009, Microsoft Windows Phone 6.5 had this ability, as owners of the HTC HD 2 will vouch, while the Samsung Galaxy S2 also supported something similar. Google has even included this feature in Android ‘Ice Cream Sandwich' 4.0, seen on the Galaxy Nexus last year. On that mobile phone, just swiping up the screen when a call is incoming gives the following automatic text message options: "Can't talk now, what's up?", "I'll call you right back", "I'll call you later" and "Can't talk now. Call me later?".

5. Priority inbox

These days, it's not easy keeping track of emails and making sure you respond to them. Apple has added a solution to this inside iOS 6 - the VIP mailbox. This filters out messages from contacts that you have pre-defined as being important and collates them into this new inbox. This is separate to the main Inbox, so you'll never miss that important missive again. In August 2010, Google introduced Priority inbox to the web version of Gmail. This automatically works out which emails are important and separates them out, rather than needing someone to manually add a contact/email address each time. This feature later came across to Android-based devices and Gmail for mobile on BlackBerry, Nokia S60, Windows Phone and even on iPhone handsets.

Rob Kerr is a journalist with more than 14 years experience of news, reviews and feature writing on titles such as Wired, PC Magazine, The Register, The Inquirer, Pocket-Lint, Mobile Industry Review, Know Your Mobile and The Gadget Show. The mobile phone world is his real passion and forte, having owned a handset as far back as 1994 where he has seen them grow from just a business tool to a necessity in everyone’s everyday life.