Ten days with iPhone 5 and iOS 6

I love my new iPhone 5. It’s a greater leap forward than I gave Apple credit for in my post about the product’s announcement in September.

It’s an amazingly light and thin phone. You hardly know it’s there in your pocket. But the best thing is the camera. This is a real camera, not the apology for one in my old iPhone 4 and iPhone 3G. It works well in poor light, unlike its predecessors.  And Siri is fun, although erratic.

iPhone 5 comes with the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6. This brings cool features such as shared photostreams and Facebook integration. The biggest change is a new Apple Maps app, replacing the old Google-based Maps app. Apple has faced a firestorm of criticism for the failings of the new Maps app. My early experience suggests that it simply wasn’t ready for release. The maps themselves are grey (Apple’s favourite colour right now) and unappealing. But the worst failing is the dreadfully poor information about locations, businesses and services.

Take one example from nearby Amersham:


Apple Maps: bringing Woolworths back to life

According to Apple, Woolworths has risen from the dead. (It closed in Britain almost four years ago.) Apple also shows Woolwich and Abbey National – two other brands that disappeared years ago. Yet Apple shows Marks & Spencer, which arrived here just a few years ago. No one should rely on Apple Maps for info until they sort these major flaws.

By contrast, turn-by-turn navigation works well, especially as it’s vector based, which means that it doesn’t download new map tiles continually as you drive.

Navigating, Apple style

Navigating, Apple style

Finally, to give Apple credit, the satellite 3D view of major cities like London is stunning:



I’d held back from upgrading to iOS on my old iPhone 4 because of the maps fiasco. But last week Google launched its own iOS maps app, which means you can’t lose. It’s just frustrating that you can’t make Google maps your default maps app across iOS 6. But in time Apple will make a success of Maps.

To recap, iPhone 5 is a winner. It doesn’t quite feel as classy to touch as earlier iPhones, but I love it.