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Apple updates iPhone, iPad software for faster downloads on some carriers

Apple has released a software update for iPhones and iPads that speeds up data downloads on some major overseas telecom networks and a handful of small U.S. carriers.

Apple says iOS version 6.1 adds the ability to access the "LTE" networks of 36 additional iPhone carriers. Those include Alaska Communications, Bluegrass Cellular of Kentucky and C Spire of Mississippi. Internationally, they include major carriers in Italy, Denmark, Finland, Croatia, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

“iOS 6.1 brings LTE support to more markets around the world, so even more users can enjoy ultrafast Safari browsing, FaceTime video calls, iCloud services, and iTunes and App Store downloads,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

The update to what he called possibly "the most popular new version of an OS in history" also includes the ability buy U.S. movie tickets through the "Siri" voice-controlled assistant feature. Also, subscribers to "iTunes Match" will now be able to download individual songs from their online lockers to their phones.

To date, iOS users have uploaded over nine billion photos to Photo Stream, sent over 450 billion iMessages and received over four trillion notifications, the company said.

The update is compatible with the iPod Touch as well.