Apple Releases iOS 6 for iPhone, iPad & iPod touch

iOS 6: Ready for downloadAs promised Apple released iOS 6 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch on Wednesday. The new version of Apple's mobile device operating system adds features such as Passbook, a redesigned Maps app, and Shared Photo Streams.

Passbook manages customer loyalty cards along with airline and other travel tickets, sporting event tickets, and movie passes. The app tracks user's movement, too, so it can automatically display the appropriate card when entering a location.

The new Maps app dropped Google Maps in favor of Apple's own service. The new Maps relies on Apple's data and includes vector-based graphics, turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic data, and a 3D Flyover view for many cities.

With Shared Photo Streams, users can choose specific albums to share with other iPhoto users instead of streaming all of the photos they capture with their iOS devices.

Siri now offers the ability to find restaurants and book reservations, look up movies and theaters, list sports scores, and can post Tweets or update Facebook.

iOS 6 also sports redesigned phone controls that include custom messages when declining calls, a Do Not Disturb feature that silences all calls and text messages that don't come from people on a user-defined list, AirPlay wireless streaming to the Apple TV, new accessibility features, and more.

iOS 6 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, at least a third generation iPod touch, or an iPad 2 or third generation iPad. It will also come pre-installed on the iPhone 5, which will be available this Friday.

iOS 6 is free and available as an over-the-air update by going to Settings > General > Software Update on your iOS device.