Apple expands Siri, iTunes Match with iOS 6.1 update

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is rolling out its iOS 6.1 update to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, extending international LTE support and adding new functionality to core operating system features like the Siri voice assistant and iTunes Match music service.

Available for download through the Software Update option in Settings, the free iOS 6.1 update is compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad (third and fourth generation), iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPod touch (fourth and fifth generation). The update expands LTE capabilities to 36 additional iPhone carrier partners and 23 additional iPad carriers across the globe, boosting Safari browsing, FaceTime video calls and iTunes and App Store download speeds.

iOS 6.1 also adds voice-enabled Fandango movie ticketing support to Siri. Moviegoers may now ask Siri to find a specific film, nearby theaters or desired showtimes, and Siri responds with the option to "Buy Tickets" and launches the Fandango app for customers to complete their ticket purchase. Users can also add Paperless Mobile Tickets to iOS's Passbook virtual wallet.

iOS 6.1 additionally brings new capabilities to iTunes Match, which scans music library files and matches each selection with 256 kbps versions culled from the iTunes Store catalog and stored via the iCloud platform. iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual tracks to their iOS devices from iCloud. The update also introduces a new button letting users reset their iOS Advertising Identifier, which enables consumers to limit mobile ad tracking and targeting--resetting the identifier essentially makes them appear to be new users.

Close to 300 million Apple devices worldwide run iOS 6, said Philip Schiller, the company's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. The operating system powered 51.2 percent of all smartphones sold in the U.S. during the 12 weeks ending Dec. 23, 2012, up from 44.9 percent in the year-ago period, according to data published last week by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

"Apple's continual improvement is thanks to both the iPhone 5 and older models attracting various customer groups, from repeat Apple buyers, first-time smartphone buyers and those coming from other smartphone brands," Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said. "In particular, 36 percent of iOS sales were derived from other smartphone users over the last year."

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