Tech Soup  

iOS 5: The good, the bad, the ugly

It would appear that a good majority of those people who swore they wouldn’t be buying the iPhone 4S were either lying or fooling themselves. The phone sold over 4 million units in the first weekend, doubling sales of the iPhone 4 released last year. If you’re wondering why the lines to procure the 4S on release day weren’t quite as long, it’s probably due to the massive amount of online pre-orders that the wireless carriers were testing out for the first time.

Since I’m not eligible for a hardware upgrade for quite some time, it isn’t worth it for me to spend $500 to get the 4S. Although I can’t take advantage of Siri, I’ve been able to spend a week with iOS 5 on my wife’s iPhone 4, my iPod Touch and our iPad. I can’t call myself an iOS 5 expert by any means, but I think I have a good grasp of the good, the bad and the ugly in Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

Haven’t made the upgrade yet? Hopefully this will help. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. *grins as he references early 80s Platinum Blonde*

The good

iOS 5 has a ton of features that almost makes upgrading a no-brainer. A really solid notification system, a decent Reminder app for all your to-dos, much better Twitter integration, and an improvement over Blackberry Messenger called iMessage are just a few of the reasons to upgrade.

But one feature that doesn’t seem to be getting enough props is the new Reader functionality in Safari. It serves two purposes: it makes reading website content much more user-friendly, and you can save web pages for later reading. If you’ve already upgraded and haven’t used this feature yet, you need to try it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Hit up a website and click on that new ‘Reader’ button in the top right corner of the address bar. Your content is now served up in a very user-friendly presentation style. Sweet, hey? Want to save pages for later reading? In the new Reader window, click the icon that has a folder with an arrow coming out of it. Choose Add to Reading List and you’re set. To access your reading list: on the iPad, just hit the bookmark icon in the top left and choose Reading List; on the iPhone or iTouch the bookmark icon will be on the bottom right.

Accessing content from the web on a mobile device has never been cooler.

The bad

So much fuss has been made about iCloud, but honestly... I’ve got to say I’m underwhelmed. Although mobile calendar access is cool, it’s nothing groundbreaking. In order to get mail synced you’ll need a .me account, and to sync your documents you need to be running iWork on both your Mac and your mobile device.

So far? Meh.

The ugly

One of the coolest features of iOS 5 is multi-touch gestures for the iPad. It may even be one of the greatest reasons to upgrade. But wait, you say. If it’s so awesome, what’s it doing in the ‘ugly’ section? Good question. Seems that Apple decided to allow this feature ONLY on the iPad 2. It’s not a case of the iPad 1’s technical capabilities, either. This is a calculated move on Apple’s part to exclude iPad 1 owners in hopes they’ll buy an iPad 2. The support forums on the Apple website are full of very pissed-off iPad 1 owners, and there is even talk of a class-action lawsuit!

As much as I love Apple, this issue is beyond ugly. Fugly, even.

Overall, iOS 5 is a more-than-worthwhile upgrade. It’s just not nearly as cool as Apple thinks it is.

Video of the week

Jonathan Mann, known for producing a video a day on YouTube since 2009, created this song about his complicated relationship with Siri on the iPhone. Moral of the story: just don’t ask Siri to marry you, because robots aren’t comfortable with that type of emotional commitment. 

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About the Author

Each week, Tech Soup will be written by a member of the Okanagan's burgeoning first-rate technology community. We already have a few regular contributors, but if you're interested in writing a tech piece for this weekly column, send us an email to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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