By Jaime Rivera | August 6, 2012 7:00 PM
There are tons of pros and cons to testing any future operating system, and especially when the official release is still a couple of months away. Sadly, the problem with testing the latest and greatest on any platform is when the features that are coming are literally late, and unfortunately not so great.
I’ve been an iOS beta tester since iOS 5. I’ll admit that I was even willing to pay for it out of my own money if I had to, just for the sake of trying something that was so ground breaking for the platform. I know many of you will begin to laugh at what we considered ground breaking a year ago, like in the case of the notification center rip-off, but for those that had already bought an iPhone or an iPad and were stuck on a two year contract, it was a million times better than what it was before.
That leads us to this beta version of iOS 6, which as of today reaches beta 4. I’ve been testing it since day one, and while there are some things I do enjoy, I’m sadly not that fond of most of it. To be frank, I’m still waiting to find those 200 new features that were mentioned in the keynote. I know your needs may vary when compared to mine, but if I was to share with you the top features that I’ve least used on iOS 6, here goes:
Don’t get me wrong, Siri has grown-up a lot lately. Sure it now knows sports, and it launches apps better than any voice command service I’ve used in years, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a gimmick.
What I wish that Apple engineers would consider, is that there’s really nothing wrong with Siri as it works. My biggest complaint about it is how cumbersome it is to launch it. If you would time yourself and compared how long it takes you to press-and-hold your home button to call Siri and how long it would take you to actually perform the task, Siri will be beat by most power users. Apple’s obsession over minimalism really makes Siri look bad, where as if there was a dedicated one-press button for Siri, I’m sure lots of us would use it. And hey, before you start pushing me over how you can also launch it by placing the iPhone in your ear, do me the favor of counting how many times that works out of 10.
I’ll admit I did use this feature a lot initially, and that’s why I learned not to use it. If you’re not rocking iOS 6 beta, you won’t be able to test this, but whenever you do, notice how much data is required to establish a five-minute FaceTime call. I’m surprised AT&T is planning to charge for these if you’ll definitely eat-up any 2GB data plan in less than a week of pure FaceTime over 3G. Thus, it also seems as if data speeds don’t really make the video experience any better if compared to a Skype video call.
Again, here’s another case of a great feature and idea that sadly won’t become popular because Apple’s sense of minimalism to make the experience beautiful is too heavy for current infrastructures and pricing plans.
3. Shared Photo Streams
If you own a Mac, you’ll love Photo Stream because of one really cool feature. iPhoto considers that any photo you’ve taken with your point-and-shoot or DSLR and have imported to it will also be part of your photo stream, so therefore, you can carry your high-quality DSLR photos with you for 30 days and share them.
The problem with sharing Photo Streams is timing in my opinion. If this would’ve been launched before we all opened a FaceBook account, this would’ve been a success. See, even if you can share these over your 3G data connection, the question is if you would really do so over a limited data plan? So unless your party is happening at an area where you have Wi-Fi, you won’t be able to share these photos with your friends or family until you get home, which won’t be any faster than you already did with the FaceBook app.
Great concept, late delivery. An alternative would be that you could choose the quality at which these photos are uploaded, and therefore, you could also select if you want to upload them automatically through your data connection.
The bottom line
I wish I could add more features that you’ll rarely use, but sadly the list of total features coming is very small. I’ll admit I’ve been more disappointed with iOS 6 than I’ve ever been with any previous release of iOS. Google was able to provide turn-by-turn navigation since Froyo more than two years ago, and Siri, while great, is still limited to newer generation devices.
Lots of cool features like VIP contacts and a simple “Do Not Disturb” button are the things I enjoy the most, but are they really something we’d call great? My answer would definitely be no, but you know what, it doesn’t matter. Those of you eligible for iOS 6 will get it for free in the fall anyways, so even if you aren’t getting anything to brag about with your friends, these will still be features that are nice to have.
If you’re testing iOS 6 on any of your devices or wish to ask us any questions about it, make sure to use the comments.