Apple’s iPhone 5 announcement arrived with a few bruises. The first iPhone was introduced to the world in January 2007 (first sold in June 2007) and changed everything about mobile communications. While this No. 5 iPhone has some sizzle, it enters into a crowd of alternative smartphones in 2012. All credit is due to Apple for what the iPhone has delivered for 5 years. An entire industry has developed with many hardware copies from Google, Samsung, Nokia, HTC, and Microsoft. The major new feature is the upgrade to iOS6 for all iPhones 3 and above. Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iOS, said iOS 6 includes “…over 200 new features to the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.” The fireworks dimmed a bit when customers discovered that the decision to replace the valuable Google Map crashed because the new Apple Maps App does not work. This huge fumble will cut into Apple’s invincibility as the innovation leader.
The Map error has already been documented by Apple CEO Tim Cook’s statement on Sept. 28: “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.” He went on to recommend that customers use map apps from Apple’s competitors such as Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites. Wow! The Apple of Steve Jobs never had this kind of humbling admission.
While sales volume exceeded 5 million phones, the all-knowing pundit estimates were higher. What is important is that the Apple announcement is filled with more than just a new pretty phone. The iPhone 5 has changed the Apple phone footprint with increased length and a thinner case. This also translates to replacing all previous phones accessories. This physical change upset a lot of people as they do not want to be forced to spend money for new chargers and cases. David Pogue wrote in The NY Times, “In the end, iOS 6 is a big collection of improvements, many of which are really clever and good, that don’t take us in any big new directions. … upgrading to iOS 6 doesn’t cost anything. In general, you should go get it.”
iOS 6 was set to steal the show. It did until the Map App proved inoperable. First, understand that iOS6 was not just for the iPhone 5, it was also a free upgrade for the 3GS, 4, and 4S phones. Updating the operating system was a really good idea as it enhanced many features including better processing and increasing the adaptability of other apps. Unfortunately, Apple’s feud with Google resulted in removing the Google Maps App and replacing it with its homegrown Apple Maps. This idea sounded OK, but it turned into a disaster.
Mobile devices make their way into everything we do. Pew Research released a study on Oct. 1, 2012, about the explosion of mobile devices for news and information. “Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago, and this has major implications for how news will be consumed and paid for, according to a detailed new survey of news use on mobile devices by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) in collaboration with The Economist Group.”
The mobile devices provide access to everything digital—entertainment, television, other people’s photos and fueling the resurgence of radio. Mike Triem is manager of Crawford Broadcasting affiliates in Colorado. He says, “Radio is reconnecting with their audience through the mobile world of phones, tablets, and laptops. Talk show topics and content resonates with listeners who listen live or through archive replays.”
With the reengineering of the phone hardware with a great screen, the important story is all about the software and iOS 6. CNET’s review included, “When it comes to displays, the 4-inch Retina Display has a high resolution (1,136x640 pixels) and high pixel density (326 pixels per inch), and its IPS LCD screen material helps keep it crystal clear. The sun will always be an enemy of the screen.”
As reported in TechCrunch, adoption of Apple’s iOS 6 continues to trend upward, with touch-friendly website conversion provider Onswipe seeing more users flocking to the newly released platform, despite its apparent shortcomings. That means that after just more than a week, the majority of those who have an iPhone have already upgraded.
The overflow of new and upgraded features is worth reviewing. While smartphones can be used for everything from alarm clocks, notebooks, social media connections, and more, there are advancements when using the phone as a phone. When receiving a call, you can click on Remind Me Later or Reply With Message. These options can help reduce interruptions when meeting, interacting with family, or driving.
Do Not Disturb is the better Airplane Mode that can be set to turn on/off at set times and allow identified people or text messages to pass through the filter. You can filter calls by group and set the phone to allow only the second call if someone rings twice within 3 minutes.
Safari adds Reading Lists, a free version of Instapaper. The Passbook app gives you access to all sorts of tickets, coupons, and boarding passes. If you already have a 4S, Siri will become a whole lot more useful (she’ll finally be able to launch apps for you, for one thing).
There are many categories that have been improved, part of the 200 mentioned by Apple. Battery life is extended to 8-hours of 3G talk time, 3G browsing, and LTE browsing. Listening to music allows 40 hours without recharging. The better audio includes new Ear Pods that are more ergonomic and meant to fit comfortably in the ear. The headphone jack has been relocated to the bottom edge.
The new A6 processor, according to Apple is “up to twice as fast compared with the A5 chip” and “also offers graphics performance that’s up to twice as fast as the A5” to launch faster, web pages to load sooner, and photos and graphics to show up and refresh more quickly. The speed will also support better connection with 4G LTE wireless connectivity.
The iPhone 5 camera has enough features for everyone to start taking photography classes. A few video features have been added, such as still photo capture while recording, improved image stabilization, and face detection. The back camera keeps the same elements as the 4S. FaceTime, Apple’s video-chatting feature can now be used through cellular networks, not just Wi-Fi.
Photos and streams can be shared with groups of co-workers or friends. They will be able to see the pictures on any Apple device or on a webpage. They can add comments or “like” them. Making widescreen panoramas can be done in a single photo by swinging the phone around in an arc. The image is created in real time. All photos can now be attached to a Mail message that is being written. You do not have to start in the Photos app.
Socializing is also being weaved into the phone. Facebook and Twitter are integrated within several apps that will enable auto posting on your page along with sending messages. Siri has also been upgraded for its continued integration with things digital. Voice activation of Apps is one example. It is clear that Siri will make its way into connectivity with other products such as automobiles and television.
There is another yet to be explored Apple decision. Lightning is the smaller, 8-prong connector for recharging and connecting to speakers, etc. The small size is good, but Apple also embedded a small chip for security and other features. This makes knockoffs and copies harder and more expensive. Yes, there is a converter for Lightning to the 30 pin; it can be purchased from Apple at a retail cost of $30.
What matters most to you should be the foundation for any decision. For those that have a smartphone surgically attached to their hand, the upgrade to iOS 6 makes sense. If you have extra cash, the bigger, better screen is wonderful. There are options, however. This is what makes life interesting.
Apple Polishing iTunes
Apple’s iTunes store has a catalog filled with more than 26 million songs, more than 700,000 apps, more than 190,000 TV episodes, and more than 45,000 films. Within the Apple September announcements, another shoe is beginning to fall. Version 11 of the iTunes desktop application with enhancements for the iTunes store is awaiting launch due in October. As of October Week 1, users who have already upgraded to iOS6 are presented with a new Terms of Agreement from Apple. It is being reported all over the blogosphere that endless loops, and other errors are cropping up.
Apple’s desktop iTunes application is being upgraded with an edge-to-edge interface that seamlessly and uniformly links the store, books, music, and videos. Every entry in iTunes has a Facebook Like button, and iCloud is completely integrated. This includes drop-down boxes, album information opening in place. As with iOS6, version 11 will be available as a free download for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad 3, and the fourth-gen iPod touch.
“We created iTunes because we love music and we’re going back to our roots with an incredibly clean design that keeps your music at the forefront,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “The new iTunes works seamlessly with iCloud, always keeping your entire library at your fingertips, and we’re adding great new features that make listening to your music more fun.”
Clearly Apple is focused on enforcing greater controls over licensing, copyright, and user reviews. Before version 11, anyone could post an App review. The new policy is that only people who have purchased/downloaded will be permitted to post reviews about applications. This will help prevent unethical marketers or competitors from uploading overly positive or negative reviews. Of course, unethical folks could invest a few dollars to be identified as an owner and still post false reviews.
The redesigned iTunes features a full-window interface with a new library view, allowing you to click on the category of content to browse that will not clutter the screen with unrelated content. The expandable album view allows for viewing track listings for any individual album, while browsing the rest of the library. The new search feature covers all content, music, movies, and TV shows.
The new iTunes has a seamless integration with iCloud. Therefore, all purchases are accessible from any device, not just the device you used to buy. This cloud integration also stores where you are in an album or TV show, so you can start on your iPhone and finish on your computer or tablet.
Integrated within iOS6, Apple is trying to simplify things by reducing the need to micromanage content on iOS devices. The reliance on iCloud libraries means that status indicators have been removed because it no longer matters where tracks are stored. Play can commence from the local device, continue in the cloud, and return to local. Storage requirements will be better managed as users do not have to manually delete tracks or shows from the local device.
This new iTunes moves us closer to cloud connected computing, whether through cellular or Wi-Fi. Of course, data plans through cellular carriers could up the price of using your mobile devices. One conclusion is to rely more on wireless connections when available. When outside of network coverage, any recently played tracks will be available on the device regardless of whether played from the device or the cloud.
Like all coming attractions, there is more to read and learn. What is clear is that anyone who uses Apple products or wants to use iTunes as their desktop player, version 11 and the enhanced store will not have an option to use or ignore. Of course, the price is free, which makes the decision even easier.