For a week now, I’ve been playing around with iOS 6 on my third-generation iPad, and even though the latest edition of Apple’s mobile OS didn’t bring too many revolutionary features, it has given iOS users many smaller features that help make the entire experience slightly better. So, let me explain the good and bad changes made to the OS that I’ve come across.
Siri for iPad
Yes, Siri has been around for the past year exclusive to the iPhone 4S, but I never had a chance to play around with it properly until now. And after using it consistently for the past week, I still can’t get my head around how an inanimate object can deliver human-like responses the way Siri does. That’s not to say that it’s perfect. In some instances, it is quicker to perform actions you could ask Siri yourself, like looking at the weather forecast and checking your e-mails. However, Siri becomes really handy if you have your hands are full, or if you can’t quite whip out your phone (or tablet) for one reason or another. The improvements Apple made to Siri in iOS 6, including the ability to fetch sports scores and film information, also prove to be handy, and a lot quicker than going and finding that kind of information yourself.
Clock App for iPad
While most people would opt to use a stopwatch on a much smaller device, the absence of the Clock app did leave a bit of a hole in the iPad. Thankfully, this has been fixed with the Clock app for iPad, baked right into the OS. As you can see, the world clock tab looks quite good with the seasoning of the weather app. Despite this, the timer tab as you can see does look somewhat primitive, but is nevertheless functional.
Facebook Integration brings to iOS the ability to post nearly everything we do on our iOS devices to Facebook, much like the Twitter integration introduced in iOS 5. You can now post a status update (or tweet) from the Notification Centre and all of your Facebook friends magically appear in your contacts list, even though the only contact information associated to a Facebook friend is usually only their useless Facebook e-mail address. Thankfully, the bloating of your contacts list can be relieved by un-ticking “Facebook” in the “Groups” tab. The same thing also happens to the calendars app: all of a sudden, the birthdays of your Facebook friends bloat your calendar beyond recognition. Again, you can relieve the bloating by un-ticking “Facebook Events” and “Birthdays” from the “Calendars” menu.
What’s not so good
Ever since iOS 2.0, which saw the advent of the App Store, we’ve been graced with the same look store, which has now been completely redesigned in iOS 6. In short, the new-look store looks horrible on an iPad. As you can see, everything is cramped and miniaturized compared to the old store. This goes for all the other stores as well, including the iTunes Store, the iBooks Store, the Podacsts Store and the iTunes U Store. An app page now only takes up a small portion of the screen rather than the whole screen. On a better note, the Cover Flow-like “Featured” tab is a huge improvement over the infinitely-scrolling “Featured” tab that forced you to wait for the app you may have just missed. The new black texture is also quite visually pleasing.
This has to be one of the most controversial features added to iOS 6. While some like the new Apple-designed maps app, others simply loathe it. After using it over the past week, the biggest thing missing from it is Street View; a feature surely more useful than 3D buildings. But even though Street View is probably as useful as Flyover, it is still something sorely missed by globetrotters and stalkers alike. The reliability of the maps have to be questioned as well, because I’ve found that landmarks like the Eiffel Tower fail to be rendered in 3D, even though they are surely important enough to be rendered. Performance and battery life also take a hit, especially in satellite mode, after prolonged use of the app, even though it’s running on the latest hardware. The lack of public transit directions will also turn many off the new maps app.
With all the new features in iOS 6, it has to come at some cost, right? You bet. While I haven’t done any formal testing yet, I’ve noticed that now I have to charge my iPad every second day, rather than every third day (when I was on iOS 5). This is even after I got past the “Oh my God I have Siri!” stage, which only lasted around a day. While this is something most people won’t lose sleep over, it may help you to decide whether to take the plunge and upgrade to iOS 6 if you haven’t already.
Should you upgrade to iOS 6?
This is a tough question, because no matter which path you take, you’re going to run into problems. If you decide to upgrade, you’ll have to put up with the slightly reduced battery life and the yet-to-be-perfected new maps app. If you don’t, you’ll lose support for new apps that are made exclusive to iOS 6. Apart from my iPad, I also own a 4th generation iPod touch, and I’m avoiding upgrading because there’s nothing that can be of any benefit for that device, just Passbook and the new-look App Store off the top of my head. If I do go through with it, battery life will diminish as if it hasn’t already (which it has, due to a combination of heavy use and iOS 5). In the end, it’s really up to you. If you’re curious enough to see what’s new, go ahead. If you’re happy with iOS 5, by all means, stay with it for as long as you can.