First Look: iOS 6. Lots of good stuff..some not so good
The latest version of Apple’s Mobile Operating System was released to the public yesterday…two days of iPhone 5 the first phone to come with it baked in. You get the benefits of iOS 6 in varying degrees depending on the age of your hardware. The new OS works on all iPhones from the 3GS an up, the iPad 2 and new iPad, and the fourth and fifth generation iPod Touche. Some of the big features – Siri, turn-by-turn navigation, panoramic photos and FaceTime over 3G – aren’t available for the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. The 3GS doesn’t even get the offline reading list feature, and Siri is not available for the iPad 2.
Fortunately all my devices are fairly current..I successfully installed iOS 6 on an iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and the current model iPad via iTunes and a USB cable. One caveat..My USB cable was attached to a powered hub that I have used for all interactions with my iDevices with no problems..until now! The upgrade of my iPhone 4S failed with a USB timing issue and I had to connect the USB cable directly to my computer and do a restore in order to install then upgrade. The lesson..for all important stuff your USB cable should be connected directly to your computer.
Now to my first impressions..let’s start with the biggie..Maps. Apple’s 3D maps are beautiful..at least for my neighbourhood which gets the full 3D flyover treatment. The detail is way sharper and the maps are much more up to date..the Apple map is less than 6 months old while the Google version is over two years old..There is a price for this detail..screen redraws are pretty slow as data is downloaded..probably wouldn’t be so noticeable with a good LTE connection on an iPhone 5. Navigation with the help of Siri..a simple natural language command to take me to the destination and clear turn by turn directions with good volume.
What’s missing is is Google’s rich database of POI’s..Yelp on iOS doesn’t even come close..one example iOS 6 maps were unable to give me a transit route to Fairview Pointe-Claire even though there is a bus stop a block from my house. The situation is the same for traffic..Google’s database is way more complete and up to date. If you want all those features you will anxiously await Google’s iOS 6 Maps app. If you only want really nice looking 3D maps (if they are available in your area) and accurate driving or walking directions (minus Google’s street view) then the Apple version will be fine. Android users will be quick to point out that all these cool navigation features are old hat for them..available on Android phones for years.
This is a very big upgrade..Apple claims over 200 improvements..all Apple upgrades seem to have over 200 improvements…it was the same for Mountain Lion 🙂 …Starting with the basics..the Phone app has been upgraded. When a call comes in you can now swipe up to access more options than just Answer and Decline: you can reply with a pre-defined or custom iMessage or SMS, or set a reminder to call the person back. Reminders can be time-based or location-based, so for example you can set a reminder that kicks in when you get home.
Siri has come in for considerable improvement, you can now ask it about films, restaurants and sport results as well as ask her to open apps. The restaurant search uses Yelp and the recommendations are a bit sparse when compared to Google but the Yelp reviews are more helpful. Asking for movies brings up a panel from respected movie site Rotten Tomatoes with one click access to reviews all without opening another app.
The latest update to Apple’s Find My Phone features a new, streamlined interface at iCloud.com along with a new feature: Lost Mode. Enable Lost Mode on your phone, and it will lock itself and display a phone number and a message on the screen. Your lock screen wallpaper is replaced with Apple’s grey linen texture, and the message and number displays on-screen with a big green Call button. You can also track the phone’s movements..it can also be set to email you when it changes locations.
Then there is the long awaited Facebook integration. You can now post pictures and video directly to your account without using the Facebook app, In Safari, you can now use the Share button to share a link to your Facebook friends. You can use Siri to post status updates as well, your device and Facebook photos, calendar, events, and birthdays will be better synced. You can also import your Facebook contacts into your contacts but, it is an all or nothing deal..you can’t restrict the import to names already in your contact list so you could end up with a huge contact list. Plus, if your friends haven’t set their contact information in Facebook you will end up with a bunch of contacts with pretty much useless [email protected] email addresses.
I have touched on only a few of the iOS 6 improvements..you can see the full description at Apple’s web site..it brings a lot of really nice stuff to the table..especially on newer hardware. In any case I think it is a worthwhile upgrade.