Thursday, September 20. 2012
So iOS 6 was pushed out yesterday. I'm sure there are lots of things that have been added that I have yet to see but on my iPad there are two really significant changes and one that I've read a lot about so looked at. I've noticed a few little things as well.
The two significant changes? Siri has arrived for the iPad and the iPad finally has a native clock app.
I don't know how much I'll use Siri over time to be honest - a lot of what I do on the iPad is not related to events and the like, but asking mathematical questions, asking about the weather (I am British after all) and the like all give nice easy replies quickly and with a high level of accuracy. Things I might like to be able to ask such as "When is the next train to London?" default to searching my events and telling me there's no 'train to London' events. That's OK I guess although a way to access such things would be nice if I start using it a lot. Telling it to play music is good though, even if, with my hearing, it's not something I imagine I'll use a whole lot.
The native clock app needs a little while to sort through still. I've been using Yocto clock which does an OK job although if you don't remember to have it as the active app when you turn your iPad off for the night it doesn't play the alarm tunes you've selected. The native app, on the other hand, seems to not have a random tune selection feature which might be nice. However it does the world clocks, alarm, stopwatch and timer as you might be used to from the iPhone clock app and does it all nicely. I really wonder why it wasn't there from the start! One thing I would say - if I wanted a digital clock on my iPad, say by my bed, Yocto clock does that better. The native app does a good job of showing multiple clock faces though, so you can see times in different places at a glance.
The thing I made the effort to seek out? The new maps app. I have to say I didn't use Google Maps a lot. I don't imagine I'll use the new Maps app much either - although it does do some nice things. There are people who complain that the photo-map overlay is not up to scratch on the maps app. Frankly I don't care because for most things I like maps that look like maps anyway but if you like the photographic look you might well be disappointed. On the few routes I've checked the route finding is fine and fast. It seems that the maps app offer more local items on display - hotels, pubs, cafes and the like all appear as well as touristy places. Useful? Well not so much for me sitting at home, but out and about... maybe. The other nice thing? Zooming in and out is smooth and responsive. OK, Google Maps uses stepped zoom levels and several of them and is nice enough and familiar enough but having proper control over the zooming and zooming to the size you like and watching the map redraw under your fingers as you go is nice. You can set your map up on screen to show where you are and where you're going to any scale, or to show just the street you're on, or whatever - it's odd how liberating that is, that sense of control over the display that I hadn't missed until it wasn't there.
iBooks has had a tweak too. Some more fonts and things. It's hard to precisely define what's changed except the increased choice of fonts but it looks sharper too - having got used to the retina display this is not as big a change but still noticeable. Wikipanion seems to have had a similar sharpening too so I'm wondering if they've tweaked how fonts are rendered in iOS 6.
Installation was, and is, very quick and easy as you might expect. Actually that's not 100% true. There's still this step, if you hit the "update" button that says "you have things on your iPad you haven't backed up you might like to sync first" or similar. Why not offer a "sync now" button there Apple. If I'm going to do it, why do I have to click OK, then sync? But it's a minor beef that I don't hit very often. If you are going to sync, don't do it when you're updating xCode though - that needs to export a new test profile and the two wait for each other interminably, or so it seems. But despite that little hiccough, definitely one of my own making, it was fast and easy - less than 10 minutes to update xCode, sync and upgrade the iPad and install the update to Mountain Lion this morning. Barely enough time to make and drink a cuppa!
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