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Sunday, September 30, 2012

iOS 6 – Worth The Upgrade?

Apple released iOS 6 September 19th for iPod Touch 4th Gen, iPhone 3GS (and up), as well as iPad 2/iPad 3, with some fantastic new features.

But is it worth the upgrade?

Let’s go through a short list of some of the biggest changes to iOS in version 6.
  • Do Not Disturb & Call Response Messages (Send text reply to calls you can’t take)
  • VIP E-mail Box (E-mail from people you list as VIPs goes into a special e-mail box)
  • Inserting Pictures/Video Into E-mail
  • Turn-by-Turn Directions with new Apple Maps App
  • Facebook Integration into all areas of iOS
  • Siri Improvements (Scores, Movie Times, Resturant Reservations)
  • General Speed Improvements/Optimizations – Much quicker browsing/e-mail responses
  • Easy Panorama Mode – Take 270 degree panoramas by turning your phone 
  • Shared Photo Streams 
  • PassBook Electronic Gift Cards/Membership Cards/Tickets
  • Over 200 improvements in total.
So is it worth the upgrade? I’ve only been playing with the official release for a few days – and some features I’m completely in love with, but that’s not to say it’s all sunshine and roses.

In Love With:

New Maps & Turn by Turn Navigation

I’m going to buck the trend (there are reports of problems with maps, roads not appearing, landmarks in incorrect places) and say the new maps, with turn by turn directions, is the best upgrade in iOS 6. Is it a full featured perfect GPS with every bit of information Google maps had? Well, no, but this is the first version of the software and it does what’s advertised. This morning as a test I held down my home button and said “Give me directions to Worldstart, Inc” and Siri found WorldStart and started voice-guided turn-by-turn directions from my current location to WorldStart’s offices.

New Call Responses & Do Not Disturb

iOS 6 now includes a slide up button on the call screen to show Reply with Message and Remind Me Later. Remind me Later will automatically create a reminder about the call, where as Reply with Message will respond back to the calls phone number with a text or iMesssage – with common responses like “I’ll call you later” or “on my way”. These are perfect for when you are in a meeting or driving and can’t answer the phone.

Do not Disturb also allows the calls to go directly to voice mail, and even has an exclusion list so you can add critical phone numbers such as your child’s school or spouse to calls that will still ring the phone even if you have Do Not Disturb on.

General User Interface & Web Browser Improvements

Safari, the built in web browser, has been improved in speed and now includes a full screen mode by simply pressing the two arrows in lower right corner. This full screen mode in landscape view allows for the bottom and top control bars to disappear, making for a much better browsing experience.

The interface also has been updated to include a better “send to” menu, with icons and more options for things like pictures, videos and web pages. You’ll also see small refinements here and there to colors, design and smoothness of an already very smooth operating system.

Not In Love With:

Inconsistencies In Interface & New App Store

The new iOs has some interface elements, such as the new dialer screen, which seem to have changed for no good reason. The keys are less defined and the top bar is different size than all the other tabs, making it look a little less flowing then previous versions.

The new App Store has changed its look also, and the interface is more difficult to use and does not show top 25 or 50 apps as quickly. 

Facebook Integration

Facebook is everywhere in the new iOS, and it poses a real question both for people who don’t use facebook and for people too young to use Facebook. I’m also not sure I need to be one click away from sharing web pages, e-mails, text or videos on Facebook, either.

Getting Old…

(iOS from 2010 pictured above)

It’s the same basic operating system as previous versions. Android has had widgets and customizable keyboards and iOS still refuses to implement either of these features. Apple has been good in the past with reinventing and revolutionizing what we think is possible and I’d like to see it happen again.

Final Words:

Is iOS 6 worth the upgrade? In my mind the answer is a definite yes. There are some negatives, and hopefully some bug fixes/updates will correct the issues found so far, but overall the upgrade offers more then it takes away. 

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