Review: iOS6 mixes big shortcomings with hidden joys
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Friday, September 21, 2012
9/21/12 at 10:49 AM
Related story: iPhone 5 delivers significant, welcome changes
The iPhone 5 itself might be getting most of the attention, but Apple’s sharing many of the changes with older iPhones via iOS 6.
The new mobile operating system came out Wednesday for all iPhones back to the 3GS, and after two days of playing with it on my iPhone 4 I’ve come away with some mixed impressions.
The biggest change in iOS 6 is the new maps app, built from the ground-up by Apple thanks to their loudly publicized divorce from Google.
This move finally brings turn-by-turn navigation to the iPhone. Large direction signs scroll by telling you want to do, and Siri will rattle off the directions if you have an iPhone 5 and iPhone 4.
You can also get a satellite view and overlay useful traffic conditions, road closures and construction reports. Newer iPhones can also get nifty 3D views of some cities, though Tulsa isn’t supported just yet.
It all functions well, but there’s a few things missing, starting with landmarks -- maybe one out of every five downtown Tulsa restaurants are listed. Hopefully Apple will fill in the gaps as time goes by, but for now it’s not very helpful. Google’s handy street view is also gone.
I was most excited to try out the new Passbook feature, which will put store cards, event tickets, coupons and even airline flight tickets in one place for easy scanning, along with the ability to have the correct item pop up when you enter the corresponding place. It works as advertised -- but getting there is an ordeal.
To bring up coupons for Target, for example, I had to find and download the Target app, fill out a bunch of information and finally give the app permission to use Passbook.
That’s far too much work involved for a feature aimed at saving time. Couldn’t all that be integrated into Passbook itself?
Finally, Siri’s gotten an upgrade, and can now look up sports scores, locate movie showings, and make restaurant reservations. That also worked, but she still has the occasional misunderstanding.
So, the big items aren’t that great overall. But what I found myself most surprised by was how much I liked a bunch of the smaller tweaks.
For example, there’s a “do not disturb” setting that will mute all calls and alerts after your bedtime, other than calls from your most important contacts. You can also automatically respond to a call with a custom text message, something along the lines of “I’m busy right now,” with the push of a button. Finally, the basic act of making phone calls has gotten some attention.
Apple’s promised that its new software is capable of producing better color in pictures, even on older iPhones. It may not be a huge change, but I did notice a difference. Webpages also seem to load up much faster in Safari on my older iPhone 4.
Facebook is now integrated into contacts and other apps. You can send out challenges for friends to beat your score in Game Center. You can have specific emails go to a VIP folder, no matter which of your accounts they arrive in. There’s support to attach multiple photos or other documents in email. You can now create public streams of your photos to share with friends.
Even the App store has gotten a nice upgrade, as search results now include more information and scroll easily from side to side.
Yes, some of the major new features subtle or disappoint. But Apple’s put a lot of thought into nearly every existing aspect of the operating system and made changes that make the whole experience better.
Noah Meloccaro, right, compares his older iPhone 4s to the new iPhone 5 held by Both Gatwech, outside the Apple Store in Omaha, Neb. on Friday. NATI HARNIK/AP Photo