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Apple's annual update to its smartphone and tablet platform is less a revelation and instead is more a retrench. Apple is clearly digging in to defend itself from competitors such as Android and Windows Phone. iOS 6 adds plenty of new features, but less pizzazz. Are the platform's new powers enough to fend off the onslaught from Google, or are they just enough to bring parity to the two battling behemoths?


The sixth version of iOS doesn't look or feel all that much different than the original version of iOS did. There are simply more toggles, more apps, more controls, and more functions to play with. The home screen behavior and settings menus are unchanged, as it has been since iOS 1. Sure, Apple has nipped and tucked here and there with respect to the design and appearance, but by and large anyone familiar with iOS 1 will feel right at home with iOS 6. I, for one, wish Apple would refresh the look and feel in a way similar to how Google has updated Android over the years.

If performance matters more to you than aesthetics, you'll be pleased with iOS 6. Despite the fact that there's more to the operating system, it doesn't suffer when it comes time to get some work done. In our tests, it behaved the same on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and the iPhone 5. There was no perceptible difference in speed. iOS remains the fastest mobile operating system available. It is fluid, graceful, and eye-blinkingly fast. iOS 6 can run the most insane and graphics-intensive games without even the slightest pause in performance. No other platform is as quick to respond to user input.