My weekend away with iOS 5

Mrs H added another year to her collection this weekend so we decided to take a weekend away and chill out in the country. But my inner geek also saw an opportunity to test out the new iOS 5 BETA for the iPhone 3Gs…well, because it had new camera functionality so….that’s my reasoning anyway. Loading a new iOS before going away can be a gamble, but loading a BETA version can bring the hardiest geek out in a cold sweat. My poker game nerves paid off as I’ve yet to experience an out of the ordinary glitch (touch wood….a whole forest of oak in fact).

I’m glad to report that iOS 5 is impressive. When first fired up it felt no different than the current iOS apart from a few new icons on the main screen – reminders, news stand, and the new music and videos icons (iPod seemed to be missing from this BETA version so assume it’s now split). Reminders is a welcome addition to the iOS as the current notes app didn’t quite fulfil the requirements of a forgetful so-and-so. Yes, there are existing apps for that in the App Store but the location based integration that Apple promises is an exciting prospect for the full release. I can’t comment on news stand at this time as it’s currently a US based functionality.

As mentioned, I wanted to test the improved photo capability of the new iOS. A welcome addition is the quick launch camera button on the lock screen, great when you want that spur of the moment shot. That said, you do need to double tap the home button for it to appear on the lock screen. Another improvement is the new shutter button – you can now take a picture using the volume up button which is much easier, and more camera like, than touching the screen. There are editing capabilities in the new iOS but they’re not available for the 3Gs, one would assume because of processer power.

But my favourite enhancement by far is the new notification center. I had a real issue that Apple were slow to deliver what the Android platform has had for years – a slicker way of showing when you received mail and also social feed updates. Finally, it’s here and Apple do it with style. A quick slide down of the thumb from the top of the screen pulls down the notification center. A good comparions is the dashboard on the Apple OS. Here you can see the weather, the stocks ticker (wasted on me) plus emails you’ve received, missed calls, texts, and updates from Facebook and Twitter. When the phone is locked these updates all show in a nice, combined and organised update list so you don’t need to access the phone straight away to see that your new emails are just spam. Another nice touch is whilst using apps a small ticker pops up at the top of the screen to show you what’s been received, and then scrolls away tidily.

Whilst speaking about social, the fact that Twitter is integrated within the iOS is a nice feature for its users. I’ve also been able to log a few Twitter accounts which has helped keep up to date with everything. Shame there’s no Facebook integration but guess Zuckerberg and Jobs have their reasons.

As a multiple Apple user I’ve seen a nice touch when purchasing apps. When buying an app on my iPad (still iOS 4) an alert came up on my iPhone saying I could download the same app on multiple devices. Nice touch.

Sorry to say there’s no news on the iCloud feature at the moment as it’s not even launched. But looking in the settings area there appears to be a lot to come.

Overall, iOS 5 looks like a good step forward for the platform. The new features will keep my support, and money, with Apple. Android has been gaining my attention recently but Apple have done what they do well – lock you in to their devices and platforms with cross device integration.

UPDATE 15th June 2011

After a few more days of using iOS 5 I’ve found the following issues:

  • iPhone heats up when listening to music on Spotify. One morning it got so hot I had to turn it off to cool it down.
  • The battery life had diminished. I’d put this down to the notification center. But I’ve hardly used the iPhone outside of my pre iOS 5 use and it’s 2/3rds empty.
  • Sometimes Wi Fi doesn’t work or lock onto my home connection. Restart sorts this out.
  • The call function has some niggles – screen doesn’t refresh – but nothing too major.
  • 6:30pm – iPhone death. Battery completely gone despite half hour charge in the day. Usually lasts all day on no charge.

Hopefully the next beta will sort some of these out.

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