Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

Some thoughts on iOS 6

The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system has been out for nearly four weeks now; I've been using it for that long, having downloaded it to my phone as soon as it came out. For the most part, it's the same as the previous edition. There are a few changes worth writing about.

The Apple vs. Google unpleasantness. Everything has been focused on the new Apple Maps application, which has been pretty much universally panned. That has very little effect on me, as I don't use my phone to navigate. I have a separate Garmin unit for my car, and it has proven reliable every time I've needed it. The extensive consternation over the new Maps is all the more reason to hold steady with the Garmin. A friend also pointed out a notable aspect of the icon for this new Maps application - the route shown in blue isn't exactly one you'd want to do in an actual car. Departing from the Apple campus, heading north on De Anza Boulevard, it isn't the best idea to hang a hard left to enter northbound Interstate 280. You might want to consider using the entrance ramp.

Maps isn't the only thing affected by Apple's falling out with Google. I went to watch a video on YouTube a few weeks ago when I discovered, all of a sudden, that the native YouTube application had disappeared in the iOS upgrade. This was easily fixed by downloading a new YouTube application, but still a slight pain.

The Podcasts application. This is the thing about iOS 6 that I've noticed the most. I listen to several different podcasts, and this new app has much improved listening control. There's a separate list of unplayed podcasts; it's really nice to have one flow seamlessly right into another. There are also jump forward and jump back buttons (-10/+30, and -15/+15 on the lock screen). These are great for me, because I have a tendency to "fat finger" the screen sometimes, and accidentally hit the wrong control, and presto! I'm all the way back to the beginning of the podcast, and I have to manually find the place where I was. The one drawback - and it is significant - is the penchant for previously played podcasts to show up as unplayed. Last week, I got back from my walk to see that I had 293 unplayed episodes (every episode of four of my seven podcasts). At least in that case, I only had to go in and "mark all played" four times. Compared to the god stuff, I can live with this small inconvenience.

Stuff I haven't used yet. There's two big ones here. The first is the Panorama feature in Photos; this represents one of the few instances in which I actually learned something useful from a television commercial, specifically the small type at the end where it says Panorama "also works on iPhone 4S." There's a view of Eaton's Neck and the power plant's smoke stacks from the edge of "The Pit" that I think would make a really good cover photo. The second such feature is Passbook, which has various participating vendors associated with it, including Target and Walgreens. At the bottom of the list of applications, it shows the amount of credit remaining on my Apple ID for the iTunes Store. Could that possibly mean that I could use that balance for purchases made through Passbook? If so, that would be very awesome.

What's being left behind. Only one of my two iOS devices got to move on up to iOS 6. The first generation iPad, which I have owned since Christmas 2010, remains with iOS 5. At first, I didn't understand why this was so. I had speculated in a private e-mail that Apple was doing this for the same reason a man and a mog saved a princess from the Spaceballs. But a much more sensible explanation appeared in my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago - there are significant hardware and software limitations on the original iPad, and if iOS6 were pushed out to it, the device would slow down to a crawl. And keeping the earlier operating system on my iPad isn't all bad - after all, it still has Google Maps.

There are also some smaller performance updates, such as the checking of mail being faster. Overall, I give this new iOS a thumbs up, and I expect it'll be further improved once Apple sorts out its mapping problems.

Tags: apple

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