iOS 6.1 Released: New Features, Improvements, Bug Fixes, Issues, Download Links And Everything You Need To Know

| Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Apple rolled out the final version of the iOS 6.1 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to the public Monday following Saturday’s release of the fifth and last beta of the latest firmware update. Millions of iOS device owners the world over finally got the much-awaited update almost three months after the first beta of the iOS 6.1 was seeded to registered developers in November last year.

According to Apple, the iOS 6.1 firmware update includes bug fixes, as well as some key features and improvements highlighted below:

- LTE support for more carriers

- Enables purchase of movie tickets through Fandango with Siri (USA only)

- Helps iTunes Match subscribers to download individual songs from iCloud

- New button helps reset the Advertising Identifier

As with iOS 5.1 last year, the iOS 6.1 update seems to be primarily focused on fixing bugs and making incremental improvements.

The easiest way to install the new iOS 6.1 update is over-the-air from Settings, General, Software Update, although the traditional method of updating via iTunes is still available for users who prefer that approach. As with any update, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a recent backup to either iCloud or iTunes—or both—before starting.

Expanded LTE Support

iOS 6.1 improves international LTE carrier support by unlocking LTE capabilities for dozens of additional carriers worldwide, with one very important caveat: you must be using an iPhone 5, iPad mini or fourth-generation iPad. International users of Apple’s first LTE device—the third-generation iPad released last March—will unfortunately still be left out in the cold as both the AT&T and Verizon third-gen iPad models were seemingly built for North American carriers only, and therefore don’t support the LTE frequency bands now used by most carriers outside of North America.

The new LTE carriers of iPhone 5 supported in the firmware update are:
  • USA: Alaska Communications, Alaska GCI, Bluegrass Cellular, C Spire, Cellcom, Pioneer Cellular
  • Canada: MTS, Sasktel
  • Puerto Rico: Claro, Open Mobile
  • Croatia: T-Mobile, VIPNet
  • Denmark: 3, Telenor, Telia
  • Finland: DNA, Elisa, Sonera
  • Greece: Cosmote
  • Hungary: T-Mobile
  • Italy: 3, TIM, Vodafone
  • Kuwait: Zain
  • Luxembourg: Tango
  • Philippines: Globe, SMART
  • Portugal: Optimus, TMN, Vodafone
  • Saudi Arabia: Mobily, Zain
  • South Africa: Vodacom
  • Switzerland: Swisscom
  • UAE: DU, Etisalat

Siri and Fandango

iOS 6.1 users can now purchase movie tickets with some assistance from Siri—a process similar in concept to the restaurant reservations via OpenTable added in iOS 6.0. Users will need to have the Fandango app installed—a voice prompt encourages you to do so if it’s not already there—at which point making a request to purchase movie tickets will basically just hand you off to the Fandango app to complete your purchase.

Note that this Fandango feature is only available in the U.S. at this point. Siri can continue to handle movie lookups as before, but requests to book tickets will result in a message that it can’t do so at any of the available theaters—presumably the same response you’ll get even in the U.S. if no nearby theaters provide online ticket sales via Fandango.

iTunes Match Improvements

iOS 6.1 brings a relatively minor improvement to iTunes Match in the form of the ability to download individual tracks on demand—a feature that was available in iOS 5 but mysteriously disappeared with the release of iOS 6.0.

In iOS 6.1, each individual track now has an iCloud download icon that can be used to fetch the track from the cloud and download it to your local device’s storage. This is essentially the same thing that happens when playing a track from the cloud, but provides users with the ability to pre-download a few tracks without having to fetch an entire playlist—useful when you know you’re going into a place with a poor Internet connection, or if you’re on a limited data plan and are leaving Wi-Fi coverage.

Oddly, however, the Music app in iOS 6.1 treats manually downloaded tracks differently from automatically downloaded tracks—tracks played “from the cloud” are still downloaded as you listen to them in the same way that they have always been, and once played can be replayed without a network connection. However, these tracks retain the iCloud download icon beside them until you manually download them.

iOS 6.1 also brings back the ability to swipe to delete tracks from local storage. Note that this feature only works in the standard track views, not when viewing tracks within a playlist. Swiping left-to-right on an individual track will provide the option to remove that track, and when working from the Albums or Artists listing, you can swipe-to-delete to remove all downloaded content within a specific album or by a specific artist. As in iOS 5, content is only removed from your local device and remains available in your iCloud library.
The iOS 6.1 update also makes another minor change related to the Music app, with the playback controls now rendered with a metallic look, both in the Music app itself as well as on the lock screen.

Passbook Apps

Passbook gets a slight tweak as well: The introductory screen that lets you visit the App Store’s selection of Passbook-enabled software is now its own “pass,” meaning it doesn’t disappear once you add your first digital pass. That way, you can always have access to the App Store collection. (You can, however, delete the pass like any other, if you prefer.)


Advertising Identifier

In iOS 6.0, Apple introduced a new Advertising Identifier to replace the use of the unique device identifier (UDID) that many developers and advertisers had previously used to track specific devices for features such as ad targeting. Users were initially given the ability to disable the use of the Advertising Identifier by toggling on the option to “Limit Ad Tracking” hidden under Settings-> General-> About-> Advertising. iOS 6.1 expands this by adding a button that can be used to reset the advertising identifier—a useful feature for those users who may not mind targeted ads but may wish to effectively “start over” with a new unique advertising ID.

It’s actually worth mentioning here that the appearance of these features in iOS 6 is actually an attempt by Apple to increase privacy. Prior to iOS 6, developers were using the UDID—a unique, unchangeable value tied to your specific hardware device—to track advertising. Apple has begun transitioning developers away from using the UDID, and is expected to prevent third-party access to it entirely at some point. Developers will then be required to use the new Advertising Identifier for ad tracking—a setting that users now have the ability to reset on demand or disable entirely.

But What is the Advertising Identifier?
iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal, device identifier, that apps will use to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to use tracking methods. You can reset a device’s Advertising Identifier at any time. And, if you choose to limit ad tracking, apps are not permitted to use the Advertising Identifier to serve you targeted ads. In the future all apps will be required to use the Advertising Identifier. However, until then you may still receive targeted ads.

Apple has also included a variety of security fixes in version 6.1, including for WebKit, Wi-Fi, and other services.

You can download the IPSW, or Apple Device Software Update file for your device from the list of direct links given below:

- iPhone 5 GSM
- iPhone 5 CDMA
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 4 GSM
- iPhone 4 CDMA
- iPhone 3GS
- iPad mini (GSM, CDMA, Wi-Fi)
- iPad 4th-generation  (GSMCDMAWi-Fi)
- iPad 3rd-generation  (GSMCDMAWi-Fi)
- iPad 2 (GSMCDMAWi-Fi)
- iPad 2 16GB (new)
- iPod touch 4th-generation
- iPod touch 5th-generation


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