Do not disturb: The best new feature in iOS 6

(MoneyWatch) You've likely heard about the problems with Apple's new mapping applicationin the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, the company's mobile operating system. But despite that uncharacteristic black mark, the new iPhone platform is a winner, packed with a number of incremental improvements. Without a doubt, one feature stands out: The "do not disturb" mode.

Indeed, that new feature is reason enough to upgrade, if you haven't already -- and if you did upgrade, be sure to check it out. When you turn on "do not disturb" (which you do in Settings), your phone suppresses most forms of communication -- phone calls, text messages, even Facebook and Twitter notifications.

The effect: When enabled, your phone won't light up or vibrate at all, so you can get through a meeting or go to bed without being disturbed by the outside world. But all of those notifications get captured and appear in the Notification Center when you turn on your phone's display.

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You can configure "Do not disturb" to do its thing on a schedule, or you can simply turn it on and off as needed. You can also specify certain favorite contacts -- called VIPs -- who can get through to you even if your phone is in "do not disturb" mode. (Email from VIPs also get special treatment thanks to their own inbox.)

All that is great, but there's a new, related option. When a call comes in, you can choose to answer or ignore it, as usual, or you can immediately reply with a text message. You can also ask your iPhone to remind you about the call later -- either at a specific timer, or when you leave your current location (as measured by your phone's GPS).

This is a long overdue feature, and, unlike the map app, is elegantly executed.

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