iPhone 5 Review - iOS 6 Interface and Usability Review

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iPhone 5 – iOS 6.0 interface

Turn the iPhone 5 on and… well it all looks pretty familiar. If you’ve
used an iPhone before you’ll be right at home here, particularly if
you’ve already upgraded your old iPhone to iOS 6 or iOS 6.1. We won’t
cover every one of the 200 new features of the new operating system here
as we’ve already gone through most of them in our iOS6 review, but we’ll go through the basics.

The
overall layout is the same as it has been for a long time. Grids of
apps fill as many pages as needed, with each new page stacking to the
right of the home one. Swipe left and you’ve got the quick search
facility for looking up apps, contacts, emails and much more besides.

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Tap
the home button and it’ll close the app you’re in and take you back to
the homescreen. Double tap and you can see all the apps you’ve got
running, hold it down and Siri will be activated allowing you to speak
your request to the phone, asking for directions, a good place to eat or
to dictate a message.

Swipe down from the top edge of the
screen and you’ve got a notifications tray that shows the weather at the
top (tap to see more detail), stocks at the bottom, and all the various
notifications about new emails, messages on Twitter or upcoming
appointments in between.

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From the lock screen you can jump straight to the camera or a double tap will bring up the media controls.


We told you it was all very familiar.

On the one hand this is
all very reassuring as it’s easy to get to grips with and simple to use
day to day but equally it means Apple hasn’t addressed a host of classic
bugbears. For instance the list of running apps doesn’t show thumbnails
of what the app is doing, nor can you add widgets to the homescreens or
handle notifications individually.

Compared to the customisation
offered by Android, the social and cross-app integration by Windows
Phone or the multi-tasking and messaging centric feel of BlackBerry 10,
it still feels a bit behind the times.

So what has changed? We
hear you cry. Well, one of the key tweaks is the addition of Facebook
integration to accompany the existing Twitter support. You can now
upload photos, web links and such like directly from the core apps. In
fact sharing in general is easier with more options available on more
apps. That said, it’s still not a patch on Windows Phone, Android or
BlackBerry 10 on this front, with far less intertwining of different
services.

Siri has also had an upgrade, with it now able to look
up businesses here in the UK as well as football scores, making it far
more useful for us brits.

iPhone 5 – iOS 6 Maps

Of
course the big change catching all the headlines at the moment is Maps.
Apple and Google have broken off their partnership that has existed for
all previous iPhones so you no longer get GoogleMaps powered Maps, and
the YouTube app has disappeared too. Instead Apple has created its own
mapping solution in partnertship with TomTom amongst others.

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It
offers three key viewing modes, just like the maps app of old. So
there’s a simple vector based sat-nav style version, a satellite image
version and even a 3D view that looks like you’re in a computer game.
The vector based maps are incredibly easy to use with super fast
rendering and download times, while the satellite view is much like the
Google version, if a little slower. Meanwhile the 3D view is quite
brilliant, offering surprisingly realistic models of large chunks of
major cities. You can spin the maps round with ease and being able to
see the skyline makes it much easier to get your bearing.

Direction
support is available for walking, transport and car travel, with
turn-by-turn navigation on hand for the latter. These directions are
pretty good, particularly with the 3D view in use, though there are no
3D buildings for the UK in this mode yet.

Also, it’s worth
noting that like GoogleMaps, all the new maps services use maps that are
downloaded on the fly so they constantly use up data and drain your
battery.

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However,
while the maps have their plus points, they are seriously flawed.
Landmarks are mislabelled, with the location either shown incorrectly or
with old information used (long since defunct Woolworths and Our Price
stores are still shown), large sections of maps have poor quality
satellite imagery (the whole of Coventry is greyscale once you zoom in a
bit) and some towns seem to be almost completely ignored in some views
(Stratford and Warwick don’t seem to exist until you zoom right in). The
service was really bad for this when it launched and though things have
improved it’s still way off the quality of GoogleMaps or Bing Maps on
Windows Phone.

All that and you also miss out on Street View.


Thankfully Google has come out with a GoogleMaps app for iOS and not
only is it better than Apple Maps but it’s a big improvement over the
previous Google-powered Maps app on iPhone. Not only does it have
excellent satelite and map views but you also get street view, google
earth and great directions. Also, there is improved usability thanks to a
new easy zoom feature that saves you having to ‘pinch to zoom’; instead
double tap with one finger and swipe up and down to zoom in and out.

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Another
new feature is PassBook. This is a virtual way to store and manage
tickets, boarding cards and coupons. You’ll be able to quickly and
easily open up a virtual ticket ready for scanning or reading by the
bloke on the door, saving you having to fumble through printouts or
check through emails. It’s a nice enough idea, assuming companies start
supporting it but currently the only supported service here in the UK is
Lufthansa airlines.

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