iOS 6 is a software update divided against itself. Apple claims over 200 new user-facing features, which is the same if not more than previous versions of iOS. Many of these are good and solid, reducing the friction and increasing the functionality of iOS, and delightfully so. But a lot of it them are also about Apple and the future of their platform.
In that regard, iOS 6 is nowhere near as audacious as iOS 2, which brought the App Store, or iOS 5, which cut the iTunes cord, took us to the iCloud, and brought Siri along for the ride. It doesn't remove user and developer pain points the way iOS 3 did with cut/copy/paste or iOS 4 did with multitasking. iOS 6 is more of a soft-reset and a way to set the stage for iterations to come. It strips Google almost completely out of iOS and introduces an all-new Maps app and increased Siri intermediation. It introduces Passbook, which isn't a digital wallet, but does provide a single repository for tickets and balances, and starts to make mobile transactions convenient and comfortable. It abstracts and outsources sharing with new Facebook and enhanced Twitter integration, so Apple no longer has to worry about creating awkward new networks of their own. And it increases support for China, which has become a hugely important market for Apple.
But if iOS 6 is about Apple and the future, what does that mean for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users today? Is there still enough here, individually and in sum, to make it a compelling and competitive update?
Let's find out...