Thursday, October 13, 2011

iOS 5 – An Average User’s Review

Things I love:

Notification Center
I always hated how one notification would cancel out another and if you were gaming or watching a video it would interrupt the whole process. Now you're able to choose whether iPhone shows you a little banner when you get a notification instead of a huge badge that takes up the whole screen. Dragging the status bar down reveals the Notification Centre and you can see lots of great info there about calendar events, weather, new emails and SMS and missed call info among other things.

This service replaces MobileMe as the cloud server that syncs all your contacts, emails, calendars, and other information to your Mac and other devices. it's pretty cool, but I really haven't spent a good amount of time with it.

Improved Camera
The camera has had a number of improvements, namely; it opens faster, captures images faster, allows you to auto-enhance the image and remove red-eye. You can also post images to Twitter and send them over iMessages. You can also take a picture by pressing the volume-up button.

Oct 14th - Edit -
This new iteration of the 'Messages' app now automatically detects if your SMS recipients have an iPhone running iOS 5 and will switch from sending the message as a normal SMS and will instead send it as an 'iMessage'. This is great because iMessages don't cound against your Text Message plan with your carrier and are sent for free. You can even send MMS messages too that contain images, location, video and contact information. Here's an image that shows you a conversation that started as SMS and then after my recipient upgraded to iOS 5, the conversation switched in-line to an iMessage conversation. note that the text bubbles for SMS are green, and for iMessages they're blue. iMessages also allows delivery and read receipts to be turned on so users can see when their messages have been received and read. When iOS is installed the default setting is NOT to send read-receipts back to the sender. This can be changed in Settings > Messages.

iPod Improvements
- Artist Names and tracks scroll in ‘Now Playing Screen’ – another thing I suggested in Feedback that took many years to implement
- When browsing songs, you can hold your finger on a track to display the full song and artist information in a small pop-up box

Miscellaneous Improvements
- Text message ringtones! You can finally customize your text message sounds!
- Separated music from other media - Music videos and movies are now contained in the seperate 'Videos' app
- Created ‘Reminders’ app - this is a great way to keep track of stuff you have to do, and it's a lot faster to use than the Notes app, plus it allows you to 'check off' items you've completed.
- Created a "Find My Friends" app that allows iPhone users to share their information with each other on an ongoing basis. Users can also push their location to their friends during a specific time frame only if they'd like.
- Importing Twitter pictures for contacts – since your Twitter account can now be linked directly to your iPhone, you can assign your contacts' images that are taken directly from their Twitter profiles. This is great because it finally makes good use of the fact that iPhones show pictures when people call.
- LED notification light - you can set your iPhone to blink the LED flash when receiving notifications
- Rich-text formatting - highlighting text brings up the contextual menu for copy/paste and now includes the option to format the selected text as bold, italics and underlined

Things they missed/goofed:

- You still can't have HTML signatures in Mail (Rich text is now supported)
- They didn't create many standard widgets for the notification centre (e.g. iPod widget)
- Newsstand app can’t be placed in a folder (because it’s a folder in and of itself?)
- In the reminders app, you should be able to create groups of reminders
- There should be a long-touch shortcut for adding songs to a playlist on the go
- When creating a playlist on the iPhone, the song list is un-scrollable and it takes a huge amount of time to find tracks you want to add.
- You can't combine iCloud and iTunes Store accounts

Despite these shortcomings, iOS 5 is a great step forward in the development of the platform and is indicative of the large-scale UI changes that we can likely expect in the coming year(s). It's important to remember though that in many ways this update only brings iOS up to par with Android and other mobile operating systems, but Apple has always offered a more secure, 'closed' environment, vs. the open alternative that allows for a great deal more risk to security and puts the user experience in jeopardy.

What do you think about iOS 5? Let us know in the comments below.