Apple iOS 6 isn't the kind of operating system that is going to make you run out and buy a new phone, but that doesn't mean it's not a welcomed change. In spite of the impressive 200 new features, it feels more like an extensive update than a new OS.
However, that is not to say that iOS 6 is bad, because it's not. While there isn't anything here that is going to revolutionize the mobile industry, the performance boost and added features such as the in-house map service and Facebook integration are sure to make Apple owners happy. Just make sure your hardware is current enough to enjoy the full benefits.
The first thing that will grab users is how well everything performs. Immediately after installing the new iOS there was an increase in the phone's speed. Apps, mail, and web pages pulled up noticeably faster, with specific apps like Facebook and Twitter seeming almost twice as responsive as before.
And the performance boost extends further than social networking, everything from pushing the digital buttons to swiping your fingers to move pages feels more tactile and responsive. While this may be the most understated change to come with iOS 6, it is probably also its best.
Another new facet that has garnered a great deal of attention is Maps, Apple's new in-house app which runs off its own servers. While the change is great as Maps comes with a cornucopia of welcomed features including turn-by-turn voice navigation, there is a down side. The addition of Maps comes at the expense of Google Maps, which many Apple users have become accustomed to since it debuted in 2007.
Unfortunately, Google Maps is no longer even available to iPhone users. Thus, those of you who are reluctant to change may find yourselves apprehensive to take the dive into iOS 6, but for those of you willing to make the leap the risk is well worth it.
The new vector-based map system not only looks great, but is easy to use. With the simple click of a finger users will be able to switch between standard, hybrid, and satellite modes offering a great deal of detail and information. Zooming into specific areas is also easer, as simply clicking on a specific vector will enlarge the designated area. Standard two finger controls also work as well allowing users to manipulate the map with ease.
Users who are looking for a more scenic experience will love flyover, a feature that allows users to take a 3D virtual tour of certain areas like major cities. I will say that flyover is impressive in that it offers great attention to detail, though I fail to see the actually utility of this application other than simply saying "look how cool my iPhone is".
Far more useful, though, is the welcome addition turn-by-turn voice navigation. The feature isn't groundbreaking -- it's something that has been on Android devices for years -- but that's fine because in my tests it works and it works well.
Users can either type in their desired destination or ask Siri for directions to prompt the navigation. When selecting a destination, maps will provide users with a number of different routes, the app even provides real-time traffic data that will offer new routes to allow users to expedite their journey accordingly. Flyover can also be used in conjunction with navigation to give users an aerial view of their route, though I would not recommend it.
The only real flaw present in Maps is little choice in the mode of transport. Unfortunately Maps only offers directions for those walking or traveling by car, meaning those who use public transportation will find Apple's version of Maps far less useful than Google Maps.
It should be noted that many users are reporting that Maps has been providing false information. I cannot attest to this personally as Maps has provided me with accurate data so far. I tested out the GPS function, and it led me straight to my destination. However that does not mean that some of the information that Maps is currently providing throughout the world is not inaccurate.
Besides providing us with directions, Siri has learned a few new tricks in iOS 6 including; opening apps, making restaurant reservations, and providing useful information such as sport scores and movie times. While Siri was able to answers these questions previously in a rudimentary fashion it can now answer with far more detail; as asking for a sport score will result in a nice looking scoreboard graphic, and asking about movies will provide you with a Rotten Tomatoes movie listing interface. Best of all this is done without the need of external apps, allowing the information to be accessed quickly.
While these additions are nice, keep in mind Siri is still Siri. These new features only mean that users will now have more of a reason to contort their faces into awkward poses as they attempt to produce the exact nuanced pronunciation needed to get Siri to recognize your simple request.
Shared Photo Streams & Facebook
Sharing is easier than ever on iOS 6, thanks to increased Facebook integration and shared photo streams. Similar to the twitter integration provided in iOS 5, users are now be able to directly post photos to their Facebook accounts without the use of an app. iOS 6 will let users do more than though, as via Safari users will be able to share links and like apps, television shows, and movies from the app store. The new OS also offers much better syncing between your device and Facebook photos.
iOS 6 also lets users easily share photos with friends and family. Users are able to select multiple photos and then simply hit the share button to be able to send the images to as many contacts as desired. Recipients are also able to give real-time feedback on these images posting comments and providing "likes".
Part 2 of this review covers improvements to the phone, email, Safari, and FaceTime apps offered by the new version of Apple's operating system for smartphones.
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