iOS 6

Last night I updated my iPhone to iOS 6 – the update took about one hour and downloaded more than 400MB of data. My new iPad still runs iOS 5.1.1 and tells me this is the current version so it seems Apple does this not as a big bang rollout but more a phased approach. Initially my download was interrupted several times which could possibly be a sign for fairly high demand.

After the update was done and I logged back in I already had 11 Application Updates waiting – 9 of them Apple Apps that I run including the iWork Suite, iBooks, Cards, Find my iPhone, Remote and iMovie.

During the Update I already noticed the new look of the AppStore – it seems much more modern but also a little cramped on the screen. I assume this is getting better with the iPhone 5 and the extra space of the new screen. A big improvement is that installing an App does not close the AppStore anymore but just runs in the background, this is something that always annoyed me when installing a couple of Apps.

The only additional new App installed during the Update is Passbook – when I open it it offers me to install Apps from the AppStore – right now in Germany (even though I use the US AppStore) there is only the Lufthansa App that seems to support Passbook. However, the concept is not yet clear to me. I installed “Lufthansa” and expected it to show up in Passbook, but it just installed the Lufthansa App and so far I do not see any integration with Passbook at all.

In the existing Apps there are many new features and improvements.

Camera:

Pleasant surprise here – I had assumed that Panorama pictures were only possible with the new iPhone 5 – but sure enough, with iOS 6 Panoramas are easy to take and indeed look beautiful.

Weather:

The App looks more polished – but I do not see any functional changes.

Stocks:

The chart now includes traded volume and company related news got more space. These  changes seem to be tailored to the iPhone 5.

Safari:

Can’t see big changes here – but looking at the “share” options this has changed completely and is now a list of icons instead of the text list we had before. Facebook is in there (added everywhere as far as I can tell) and all the other possible ways of sharing (Mail, Message, Twitter, Print etc.)

And while we are at it – this is one of my main complaints to Apple. Let us opt out of social networks completely! I do not use Twitter or Facebook and don’t want Links to it everywhere – just take these away if I don’t have configured these Accounts in Settings. That shouldn’t be too hard to do!

Photos:

Cleaned up the interface by separating Albums and Photostream. Also creating Photostreams for other users is a great feature, but why can I only invite users that also use Apple devices and iCloud? This makes it completely useless! I wanted to share some pictures with my family or at work but not everyone has a compatible device.

If I use the Public Website Option there is no access control – anyone could see my pictures if they just guess the Link right.

There is some work to do before this is really useful (I already had all these features provided by Apple years ago using MobileMe – so it really shouldn’t be a big technical problem to implement access control to a web based Photostream.)

Maps:

There’s been much written about the new Maps and changes from Google Maps. All I can say so far is that the App seems less responsive than before, this might have to do with caching on the device and get better over time. Turn-by-Turn directions works fine and Traffic indication seems fairly accurate. Turn-by-Turn is on my German setup device in English and pronunciation of street names is terrible – I am still looking for the setting to change this to German.

Podcasts:

Podcasts finally moved out of the Music App and got their own App. I didn’t hear much about this beforehand – implementation looks nice and helps to clean up the Music App.

Reminders:

Reminders got a very useful Today pane showing all tasks from all Lists that are due today. Also you can easily select the next seven days to see what tasks are due on those specific days. Small changes, but very helpful.

Mail:

VIP Mail and flagging of Mail is very helpful if you get a huge amount of Mail everyday and try to work productively with your iPhone as your primary email client.

Talking about Mail and using your iPhone as your primary email client you should check out my book "Rise to the top !" 

Phone:

The App itself is mostly unchanged – I liked the old dial pad better than the new one. The interesting features are in “settings” where you can set your phone to “Do not disturb” letting only defined callers through (which you define in “Notifications”) and preconfigure your “Reply with message” text messages. These you can use when a call is incoming and you are not able to take the call – very helpful.

To be able to set “Do not disturb” for a specific time schedule is great and helps to reduce the after work calls to the really important ones.

Calendar and Messages:

No changes here as far as I can tell. Also most of the other smaller utilities (Clock, Contacts, Compass, Notes etc.) look unchanged.

All in all I really like what I have seen so far. I haven’t played around with Siri to see the improvements in Voice Control, this will be next. The Settings are cleaned up and grouped together in a more meaningful way giving you access to the most important settings easily.

Nice update, and just like last time now I even see less reason to get the iPhone 5 – everything I wanted is already here (don’t get me wrong – of course I’ll get the phone: It’s thinner, and lighter, and prettier, and bigger, and faster…)