This week, we have a very special installment of Picks of the Week wherein our contributors point out iPhone 5 or iOS 6 features they believe are noteworthy. We allowed the dust to settle for a week, and now we bring you our thoughts.
New Music App in iOS 6 and Features in Find My Friends
Although I haven’t downloaded iOS 6 on my personal device (keeping a few jailbreak apps), I have explored some features on my wife’s 4S. Two of these that I stumbled across bear mentioning.
First there is the new Music app. Particularly, how easy it is to complete an album collection. Often, the purchasers in our family buy an individual song and not a full album (which, why do we still call them “albums?”). Now with the touch of the new button, “Show Complete Album…”, you can see how much additional cost it would take to complete the full collection. Or buy the additional songs you want, cafeteria-style.
The second feature I love is embedded in the new “Find My Friends” app – the “Notify Me” button. If I want to know when a friend has moved from their current location, I can set the Notify Me menu when my friend LEAVES from their current spot. I found this handy when I wanted to know when my wife was leaving the store – so I might anticipate her arrival time back home and have dinner ready :-). If you’re wanting to know when someone ARRIVES at a previously identified address, say “school,” then the app can be set to send a notification when that person’s device, and presumably the person, has makes it to the address too.
Two nice little iOS features I hadn’t seen shared yet!
Maps in iOS 6
There’s been very few times when I’ve downloaded a new version of iOS from Apple and been quite so completely annoyed with how things have changed. Typically from Apple an iOS update includes a swath of improvements and little tweaks that generally make the OS that much better. This time around I can’t help but feel that Apple screwed the pooch and either rushed the update or just didn’t really care enough about the update to make sure it was up to snuff.
I’ll start with the obvious target – Maps. I understand there was licensing, agreement expirations, blah, blah blah. I don’t care. The users don’t care. What we care about is that when I want to go somewhere new, I open up maps and I find the location. I want some landmarks around the area so I know when I’m getting close (oh look there’s the capital building – we’re really close) and I want the street names so I know I’m ‘x’ blocks from my turn. Google Maps provided that beautifully. Apple Maps? Well… here’s a search you should enjoy.
That doesn’t look anything like Columbia South Carolina does it? I can understand mixing up like named locations, but I searched for a city in the United States. What makes Apple think that I (in Denver) would feel like driving directions to Santiago De Cali in Columbia?
Better yet, here’s a whole tumblr site dedicated to the maps #fail. It’s increasingly obvious that Apple didn’t dog food iOS 6 or that they just don’t care enough. http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/
One more quick one – Who decided that the simple table view from the App Store needed to be removed in favor of a card view that makes every search take 10 times as long as it used to? I didn’t make that up by the way … someone timed it. 1 second to scroll the first 25 results on the old view – 11 seconds on the new view. Can we find that person and fire them, then bring back the old view? The new search is excellent on the iPad, but it’s a complete and total failure on the iPhone.
Tap to Tweet in Notification Center
Here’s something I didn’t expect to like in iOS 6: the Tap to Tweet and Tap to Post buttons in Notification Center. I thought they’d go largely unused, just like the built-in Twitter buttons that were thrown into Photos, Safari, and other apps in iOS 5. But here I am, a week into iOS 6, and I’m tweeting a little more every day, just because the buttons are there, and it’s fun to use them. The premise behind these buttons is so simple – build it and they will come – and it’s really working on me.
My only wishlist item for these buttons: a little more dynamic input. The Twitter sheet seems to recognize usernames, but the Facebook button does not. I’d also like to be able to insert pictures with a quick button tap, instead of having to start the process from the Photos app.
LTE on iPhone 5
All I can say is, WOW! I had no idea what I was missing all these years. LTE in the Orlando, FL area on AT&T is screaming fast. Yeah, you heard me right–AT&T. From what I have been hearing and reading, especially this year, I’m one of only 4 people who is happy with AT&T’s coverage, especially when it comes to LTE. But that’s fine by me. If I can continue to regularly surf on down-load speeds averaging 20-30 Mbps, with the occasional spike in the mid 50′s, I’m glad that there is a skewed negative perception when it comes to AT&T’s pipeline. Stay away, please.
It’s truly amazing that Apple was able to fit LTE wireless technology in such a thinly designed iPhone, and save enough room for optimized battery life that keeps me going well into the early evening. Even with the speedy download speeds my battery lasted almost 10.5 hours today. What more can you ask for? LTE has made my browser experience a dream come true. Pages load extremely fast, usually 3-4 times as fast as my home Wi-Fi connection. I no longer need to wait until I get home to download a collection of Podcasts, or update a handful of Apps all at once. With my LTE enabled iPhone 5 I am more productive, better prepared and more efficient than ever before.
Do Not Disturb
Working for a company with an international presence, I tend to get emails at all times of the day and night. Previously, my wife and I would have to endure email “DING” noises (times 2, iPhone and iPad) at odd hours of the night. For many reasons, I cannot simply silence my phone, as important phone calls do come in overnight occasionally that I do need to respond to. So, we were resigned to enduring the “email symphony” all night. While my wife was convinced that she slept through them, I could tell that while she wasn’t waking up, they were disturbing her sleep patterns.
Now, with Do Not Disturb, that’s all gone away. Automatically, from 10pm through 7am, my iPhone and iPad will neither chime nor vibrate, no matter how many emails come in. However, urgent callers can still get through, and anyone who calls more than once in a 3 minute period will also get through, since I have configured the Do Not Disturb feature to permit it. Do Not Disturb can also be activated manually; this is great for meetings and the like.
To configure Do Not Disturb, simply enable it from the Settings app:
One of my favorite new additions to the iPhone 5 is the newly redesigned earbuds. A small set of $30 headphones with a mic and basic controls doesn’t seem like big deal in a lot of ways, but these are such a huge step up from the old, round, too big, and almost universally hated model.
What can you say about the original Apple earbuds? There was a time when they were sort of iconic, back when the iPod, and later the iPhone, were more exclusive items. Well, the secret’s been out for years- they SUCK. They don’t sound good unless you get them in the perfect spot, and they won’t stay in that spot because they are too big for 99.9% of the population. Good riddance!
As for the new buds, you can see that Apple put some real thought into them. They aren’t perfect by any stretch. The bass is on the light side, and the fidelity pales in comparison to higher quality alternatives. However, on the bright side, the sound is balanced through the treble, mid, and bass ranges, making the earbuds versatile. This is important for a headset bundled with a popular mainstream consumer electronics device. Also, they fit great thanks to their new flattened design, and as such, are comfortable to wear for extended periods. This alone makes them a hit with me.
So, Apple’s new bundles earbuds may not be worth running out any buying at $30 a set. There are plenty of similarly priced alternatives that will deliver as good or better quality. However, as a pack-in with the new iPhones and iPods, they really shine, and are a massive improvement over the original model. Apple didn’t have to go back to the drawing board, on a modest accessory like this, but I am certainly glad that they did. It shows their commitment to continually polish and refine their products to enhance the user experience. If you are a true audiophile, you will still want something more than what these earbuds can deliver. But, if you just need a general purpose headset that also allows you to receive calls, then look no further.
While many have correctly criticized Apple’s new Maps in iOS 6 for being less than stellar, there is one feature that I think is mostly going unnoticed- turn by turn directions. I’ve tested the new turn by turn navigation built into the Maps app around town, and it works surprisingly well considering the current state of dismay the rest of the app is in. I think this is great, and because I look at things in monetary terms, this saves customers money considering they no longer have to purchase a standalone GPS unit for their car. Now It’s just built right into their phone.
Do you agree or disagree with anything stated here? Have thoughts you’d like to share? We’d love to know what you are thinking. Leave a comment below!