Apple releases iOS 6.1 software update for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Apple has launched iOS 6.1 as a new software update for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users, adding a bunch of new features along with various fixes and improvements.

Seemingly out of the blue the update became available earlier this evening, with iOS device users given the usual options of updating either over the air or via iTunes on PC or Mac.

The key purpose of the update is to extend 4G compatibility for the iPhone 5 and iPad 4, both of which include 4G LTE radios. Building on the original list of 4G networks that have supported both devices from their respective launches, Apple has today added 36 new 4G iPhone networks and 23 for the iPad. This will be good news for anybody who outright purchased an iPhone 5 or iPad 4, as the chances are they’ll now have a better chance to hook up with a 4G network.

Siri has also learnt a new trick in iOS 6.1, with Apple taking the movies functionality it added in iOS 6 a little further. Users will now not only be able to see what films are on nearby but also book tickets to a showing using Siri, saving the hassle of loading your local cinema’s website or – shock horror – making a call. This feature uses existing technology from Fandango, and unfortunately at present it’s only going to work in the US.

Finally, the third major addition relates to iTunes Match; Apple’s cloud-based music matching system. With iOS 6.1 users will be able to download single tracks to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch from an iTunes Match library, whereas before an entire album or playlist would need to be downloaded.

If you’re keen to update then the easiest way is to open Settings, head into General then Software Update, where you should find your new software ready to install.