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Apple's iOS 6 release date: Start your downloads on Sept. 19

The company unveils the official release date for the new operating system with promises of improvements to mapping, Siri and more.

Apple will release the next version of its iOS mobile operating system, iOS 6, on Sept. 19.

The Cupertino company announced the release date along with the iPhone 5 today at an event in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

The iPhone 5 will come with iOS 6, while owners of older iPhones can download the new software in an over-the-air update or through iTunes. The new phone will go on sale on Sept. 21, but other device owners can download the new system earlier.

A key addition is a new Apple-created mapping app -- which Apple is debuting after axing Google Maps. The update will also have an improved Siri, Apple's digital assistant, that can open apps via voice command. Another notable change is the ability to conduct Facetime video chats over a 3G cellular network, a feature that's prompted discussion about its impact to data plans.

The new system is said to have 200 new features including tighter Facebook integration, more phone-answering options and a Passbook app for storing boarding passes, movie tickets, and other location-based items.

The launch will mark the quickest turnaround time for development in Apple's operating system line. The iOS 5 system was released in October last year after Apple tested seven beta versions in a four-month period.

iOS 6, on the other hand, went through four versions and will be released more than three weeks earlier than its predecessor.