Friday 21 September 2012

The iOS6 experience

Just prior to the (?anticipated) release of Apple's new iPhone 5 it was time for the rest of the iOS-verse to get a system upgrade to iOS6.

I'd forgotten that it was happening, and the first I knew was when the Better-half mentioned something from the internet at the same time the iPad (happy in its WiFi-verse) asked me if I wanted to update the software. So I did. The phone refused to play WiFi so got plugged into iTunes and left to get on with it whilst I went off to work.

When I arrived at the office I opened up my iPad to check my task-list etc. No WiFi. Never mind I thought, the router is having a bad day - or maybe the update wiped the network settings. Re-booted the router 'unable to join' - tried the local Openzone 'unable to join'. I couldn't check the phone as it was left at home, so a quick straw-poll of colleagues (both with iPhones) one has WiFi one doesn't. Did anyone do the iOS6 update. Person with WiFi "no", person with WiFi "yes". Final test, colleague with Nokia phone. He has WiFi. Has iOS6 broken our WiFi. A cursory Google search confirms many angry people with no WiFi, and no working solutions.

At lunch I speak to the lovely Apple Support (they really are very good). Turns out that there have been troubles but they are mostly fixed; but to get things working again I will need to uninstall and reinstall the update on the iPad using iTunes (because wirelessly sometimes bits get lost!).

When I get home I do this. Do I want to back-up iTunes asks... yes I answer. iTunes then does it's thing and reinstalls the new system - helpfully wiping every app off my iPad and ignoring the whole 'yes I want to back-up' bit. Several hours of pain (after the Better-half and Twitter friends pointed out I could at least find my apps under 'purchased' in the iStore). Happily once reinstalled the back-up bit did seem to have worked and nothing was lost.
So after all that - is iOS6 worth it? Here are a few highlights (and lowlights).

1) Apple hates Google (part 1)
We knew it was in the pipeline and now it has happened. Google maps have been dumped in favour of a proprietary (and frankly rubbish) solution. The good people at Mashable have collected some of the best examples. These are funny - but bottom line it isn't fit for purpose. I looked up my own address and it put my house at the wrong end of the street. You can still get Google Maps (in fact they positively encourage you) so I've put a link back on my home screen.

Melting buildings in London
Google Maps: add me!
Apple Maps or Google Maps?!|

2) Apple hates Google (part 2)

Can't keep YouTube down!
The YouTube App has also gone (because you know who owns YouTube) - quietly and without much notice, vanished. Again you can but a link back on your own page. I don't really need it - just because I can!

3) Photostream gets a facelift

Now there is more to Albums
Now Photostream has its own tab and you can make and share photostreams online. This is a godsend for the many people with PCs who don't seem to be able to get their photostreams to work any more (despite restarting all the involved devices, uninstalling the iCloud, etc.).

4) Panoramic photos

Choose from 'options' to start
Lets face it, for a cellphone and a tablet Apple have given their products pretty good cameras. Now you can take a panoramic shot. OK so my camera does the same thing with a better quality, but if I forget my camera and need to take a group shot...

Steady hand required!

5) Passbook

The choices, the choices!
I'm not seeing the joy in this one. Firstly the horse has come before the cart. The App is there,the storefront is there... but there is nothing to put in it. I also have a sneaking suspicion that it will be a while before it usefully hits the UK (happy to be proved wrong though!).

6) Extra bits and pieces
Do not disturb!
There are some pretty cool new features to play with. I like 'Do Not Disturb' which will silence incoming calls on schedule without turning the sound on the phone off (I always forget to turn it back on again!). It works too as I had it on last night (I have a friend who often pocket dials me, so this will be invaluable).

Well you can't all be VIPs now.
VIP mail is another good one. This syncs across devices, so having told the iPhone the iPad has the same settings. You can mark email addresses as 'VIP' and they are copied to a different inbox with a different notification sound. Now I know when the Better-half mails me!

What's the time in...
A few standards from the iPhone have appeared on the iPad. A clock (or was that always there and I never noticed, it wasn't in an App group which makes me think it is new). Set up a few world clocks... I like to know the time in our overseas offices and on the coasts of America (for baseball/NFL purposes).

The Weather
Torturing Siri
Siri has come to the iPad. I get to torture Siri all over again... because it was so much fun the first time round. To quote 'My Fair Lady' - limit yourself to the weather and everybody's health.

Good to share
Generally the sharing interfaces are improved and easier to use - superb for Social Network Butterflies like me.

iOS6 - we'll get there in the end!
Of course, for the full low down, as Siri told me when I asked "What's new in iOS6" you can always go and ask Apple.