Not Ready for iPhone 5? Upgrade Offers Some New Tricks
The good news for plenty of current iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users pondering buying the new iPhone 5 is that they'll get many of the 200 new features in Apple's (AAPL) free update for mobile software, iOS 6, available on Wednesday.
I've compiled a handful of the most significant features you'll get with the iOS software update, which I tested on the iPhone 5 and the newest iPad. Some older devices won't be able to use all of these features and one feature will work only on the iPhone 5: taking a still photo while recording a video. Here are some highlights of the new features. There are many more features too numerous to mention.
Do Not Disturb
Finally, the iPhone can let its owners sleep at night—with options. Until now, the iPhone's silencing switch turned off all sounds with no alternatives. This meant that people who wanted to turn off alert sounds for Facebook (FB) notifications and incoming emails while they slept had to give up receiving phone calls in the middle of the night from, say, a relative having an emergency.
The Do Not Disturb feature (turned on in Settings and adjusted in Settings, Notifications) turns off all sounds but can make exceptions. If you want to be notified whenever one of your favorite contacts calls you, the phone will ring. Another optional feature of Do Not Disturb lets calls ring through if a person calls twice in a row within three minutes. Do Not Disturb can be set to work on a daily schedule, like from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., so you don't have to remember to turn it on. People who are trying to maintain separate work and personal lives may even set this to work after they leave the office, only allowing calls from certain groups (like family and close friends) to ring between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
If your phone's silent switch is on, the phone won't make noise no matter how Do Not Disturb is set.
In iOS 6, Apple (as it often does) took a feature that's already available in many smartphones and made it a lot simpler to use: capturing panoramic photos. In Camera, select Options at the top center of the screen and choose Panorama. A small on-screen diagram will appear to guide you as you click the shutter button once and pan the phone from left to right, following an on-screen arrow along a center line. Panorama works on the iPhone 4S and 5, as well as the newest iPod touch.
IOS 6 has improved sharing in two significant ways: It's now integrated with Facebook and enables sharing directly from the places where people think about sharing. You can share to Facebook using various tools such as the Notification Center screen (pull this down from the top of the screen and select Tap to Post in Facebook); using Siri (tap and hold the Home button before saying, "Post to Facebook"); or by clicking a share button (a square with an arrow) on nearly any screen—including photos.
Until now, iOS forced people to open Facebook, select Photo in the app and then choose an image to share. Now, people can tap the share button while looking at a specific photo and send that photo out to Facebook.
Likewise, you can now add photos or videos to emails as you're composing them—not by starting with photos. This is something people naturally do on their desktops as they add photos or videos to emails. Do this by tapping anywhere on the screen in the body of the email to see the Select, Select All, Paste options appear. Then tap on the right arrow and select Insert Photo or Video.
While Apple's App Store now holds 700,000 apps, the revamped App Store app for iOS doesn't look overcrowded thanks to a more organized layout. Search results appear in card format, one per screen. By swiping one app to the left, another appears. Developer information, reviews from other users and screen shots of the app appear in a helpful, methodical format. While the old App Store forced people to scroll down a lot, this App Store makes better use of the horizontal plane. It does a better job of displaying Genius, a feature that suggests apps you might like according to those you've purchased.
Apple is now shipping its own Maps app, replacing Google's (GOOG) Maps app on devices receiving the update. This app takes some getting used to, and its maps appear a bit more zoomed in, overall.
But its turn-by-turn directions (available on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 or later) will be a big help for people who want a hands-free option for driving: Just plug in your destination address, pick a route and tap start to hear navigation instructions announced out loud as you drive. The text of the directions still appears on the device's lock screen, in case you put it down and it locks and you need to quickly glance at the next step.
Apple's voice assistant, Siri, has been updated to do more and now works on the latest-model iPad and iPod touch as well as the iPhone 4S and 5. Siri can now open apps and do more with them; I composed a Facebook message and never touched any keys. But it still has its inaccuracies: In a quiet office, I said, "Launch Google Plus," which Siri interpreted as "Lunch Google Plus," and then said, "I found 15 lunch restaurants, 11 are fairly close to you." This is a failed experience that happens all too often.
Freedom from Wi-Fi
Now, the FaceTime video chats you make on iOS can be conducted over cellular, not just WiFi. This works on the iPhone 4S and 5, as well as the newest iPad, so long as it has cellular data capability.
(Reuters) - An entire city is in the ocean, a farm has been labeled as an airport, highways end in the middle of nowhere and a hospital now covers the entire center of British city Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's home.
Welcome to the new world of Apple Maps that greeted iPhone and iPad users when they downloaded the highly anticipated update to the consumer giant's mobile software platform, iOS 6.
Apple Inc's home-grown Maps feature was introduced with much fanfare in June by Apple's software chief Scott Forstall and is a direct challenge to the same service offered by friend-turned-rival Google Inc.
But the app is already facing criticism from users globally for a number of geographical errors, missing information and because it lacks features that made Google Maps so popular, including public transit directions, comprehensive traffic data or street view pictures.
Apple Maps has replaced Google Maps, which is no longer available on iOS 6.
Many users who downloaded Apple's iOS 6 software, released on Wednesday, took to Twitter and online forums to express their frustration at the glitches.
"The people who thought the world was flat were more accurate cartographers than Apple Maps," @RayneBradley said on Twitter.
"Apple Maps also have errors in business listings. I went to call a local taxi driver and it was a taxidermist (seriously)," said @TomDavenport on Twitter.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the company launched the new service knowing it was a major initiative.
"Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get," she said. "We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better."
The criticism comes on the eve of the launch of Apple's iPhone 5, which hits stores around the globe on Friday. The iPhone 5 comes pre-loaded with the new iOS 6 software and Maps.
Users have created a Tumblr blog sarcastically dubbed "The Amazing iOS 6 Maps" where many have posted screen shots of the errors (theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/). Pictures showed the Norwegian town of Leknes in the Norwegian sea, the entire city center of Stratford-upon-Avon is labeled as a hospital.
Some of the errors have even irked politicians. Irish Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he was surprised to discover that Airfield -- a 35-acre estate with working farm and café in center of his constituency in Dundrum, Ireland -- has been labeled with the image of an aircraft.
He said this could be dangerous for pilots and suggested in a statement that Apple use the image of "a cow, a goat, a sheep, a flower" instead, and that an "aircraft is an entirely inappropriate flight of imagination."
Users in Asia were surprised to see two sets of the disputed territory of Senkaku Islands. Some joked that this was Apple's effort at providing a diplomatic solution to Japan and China, both of which claim the islands.
NOT AN EASY FIX
Closer to home, New York city residents are unhappy that Apple maps doesn't offer public transit directions, one of the most-used features on Google Maps in cities.
"My phone should be able to tell me which bus and train to take," said Kenan Ali, a Brooklyn, New York, resident who exclusively uses public transport in the city and has been an iPhone user since 2008. "I am hoping in the next update they will somehow add transit directions."
Apple's map service comes with three-dimensional images of cities called "Flyover" along with real-time traffic updates and also turn-by-turn navigation, the last a feature that Google has in Android devices but had not made available in Apple devices.
Apple licenses mapping data from vehicle navigation systems maker TomTom. TomTom said it stands behind the quality of its maps but didn't develop the app.
"During the process of turning mapping data into an app, every manufacturer does it their own way," said TomTom spokesperson Cem Cohen. "We are not part of that process. Apple uses exactly the same maps as our other customers."
Cohen said TomTom hasn't talked to Apple about the issues.
While in theory it will be possible for Apple to update Maps with a software fix, the problems appear to be "pretty profound and pretty fundamental," said Marcus Thielking, co-founder of Skobbler, maker of the popular GPS Navigation 2 app, built using the crowdsourced OpenStreetMap platform.
"The question is really how much expertise do they have in-house and what they sourced from third parties," Thielking said, adding that Apple requires people with a very specific skill set to fix it.
"It's not their core competence," he added.
Google, for its part, did not say whether it would do a Google Maps apps for iOS 6. Users now have to access Google Maps through the browser.
"Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system," the company said in a statement.
Apple shares closed down about 0.5 percent at $698.70 on Nasdaq, a day after reaching an all-time high of $703.99. The shares have gained over 20 percent in the past 3-1/2 months in the build-up to the launch of the iPhone 5.