iOS 6: Review

Like most iPhone owners, I was ready to install iOS 6 when it was released on Wednesday. I had liked what I had seen at Apple’s WWDC in June and could not wait to try it out. Now that I have been using iOS 6 for a few days, I thought I would post my thoughts.

What’s New?

There are a few new features and apps in iOS 6. In fact, Apple claims that there are over 200 new features in the OS, but you might be hard pressed to find them.

 

One of the more obvious changes is the Maps app. Apple has ditched Google in favor of its own map application. It features vector styling mapping so the load time is fairly quick. The satellite images load very quickly as well. The problems begin, however, when you use Apple’s 3D “Flyover” feature. Some of the images are incomplete or skewed. And Flyover is only available for a few select cities. Siri is now integrated in to Maps and will provide turn-by-turn navigation. There are a few issues here as well. Many addresses are off, and some are off by a few blocks in larger cities. This makes me wonder why Apple did not release a beta version of this maps app. A real public beta, not a developer beta. Apple could have pin-pointed some of these errors long before the release date, but Apple says it is working on the Maps issues and will release an update soon.

Another new app is Passbook. I really like this idea. NFC might be a feature of other phones, but it has not yet been accepted by the majority of the public. Apple has opted instead for Passbook. There are only a few apps using this feature, but there are sure to be more in the coming months. Passbook is a place to store tickets, boarding passes, and gift cards. Let’s use Fandango as an example. You buy your movie ticket on Fandango and the app places your ticket in Passbook. When you enter the theater, you pull up the ticket which is then scanned. A very simple app that is sure to get a lot of use.

There are a number of other important updates. Facebook is now integrated throughout the OS making it easy to share and post to Facebook. Siri has received some nice updates. She now knows more about sports, can launch apps, post of Facebook and Twitter, and can tell you where to go with Maps. Mail has received some minor updates, as has Safari and the camera.

What is Old?

iOS 1 vs. iOS 5

To be honest…all of it. iOS is beginning to feel old. Apple has tried to update the feel of the OS in a few ways. They have updated the look of the App Store, iTunes Store and Music apps. They also changed the way the phone key pad looks, but the rest of the app has not changed. Some apps have a blue menu bar, some retain the old black bar. The OS just feels half-baked. It seems like they wanted to try a new color scheme, but did not finish it. I really like the black and white look of the Music app, but it makes most of the other apps look out dated.

There have been several articles lately about Apple’s skeuomorphic design themes and how there are two camps within Apple. Some believe Apple needs to pick a standard theme, others like how each app is unique and looks like it’s physical counterpart (ex. Notes app looks like a notepad).  Personally, I think it is time that Apple pick a design language and stick with it. They are moving in the right direction with the remodeled stores and Music app.

Overall

There is no doubt that iOS 6 is a solid OS. Everything works very well, and I have not had any issues since upgrading. Customers will flock to iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, but that does not mean Apple needs to stop innovating. If they want to remain the king of phone technology, iOS will need some major new features for iOS 7 – and one of those features needs to include a facelift.

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