I started my quest to get iOS 6 running on my third-generation iPad shortly after midnight Sept.19. However, I was perplexed when I got the message that my software was up-to-date when I selected the Software Update choice on the settings menu. I tried a couple more times with the same results. This didn’t seem to be a good sign, and I had promised my editors that I would have a column about what you got with the upgrade.
Finally, it occurred to me to check when Apple would actually make iOS 6 available. That explained everything. Since 1 a.m. was still a little while off, I watched another episode of Storage Wars and tried again. I still had no luck. This time I checked more closely. The right time was 1 p.m. EDT, which explained a lot.
When that’s done, the first thing you’ll note is that iOS 6 looks just like iOS 5.1. There’s a new icon for the world clock and a longer list of items in the settings menu. Siri pops up when you press and hold the home button and lets you provide voice input when you touch the microphone button.
The mapping program is one of Apple’s big deals. It’s supposed to let you do turn-by-turn voice navigation, and show you details on restaurants along with satellite and map views. It replaces Google Maps, and while some features are nice, some are missing, including walking directions and mass transit information. On the other hand, when I asked Siri where I was, it gave me the right address on the first try, which is more than Google Maps ever did.
Siri, as you probably know by now, has been upgraded with information about restaurants and sports. So when I asked Siri, “What are the Nationals’ standings?” Siri showed me the National League standings and replied that the team was in first place.
Weirdness Ensues With Facebook Integration
But the restaurant upgrade didn’t seem to have gone so well. When I asked Siri to show me good restaurants near me, one of those listed was one of the top eateries in the Washington, D.C., area, Trummer’s on Main, which is near my office. But when I asked Siri to show me Trummer’s on Main, it was bewildered. Finally, I had to intervene manually.
While Siri is vastly better than Samsung’s S Voice, which seems almost useless, you can spend a lot of time getting used to it. You also need to be prepared for the strangeness caused by the Facebook integration. Now, when I use the Messages app, iOS 6 has for reasons that remain obscure, grabbed my son’s photo from Facebook and replaced mine.
You also get a more useful email program in iOS 6 and setting up email accounts was easier. But once again, with the Facebook integration, you can get your existing address book merged with the list of friends from Facebook, which can cause no end of weirdness. Fortunately, you can turn that feature off. The email program does allow you to flag what it calls VIPs, which means you can separate out your boss’ email from the spam you get the rest of the time.
Safari’s upgrade allows you to share your browser tabs with other devices using iCloud, which can be very handy, and apparently works a lot like a similar feature in Google’s Chrome browser. FaceTime will now work over cellular networks, so if you have a Long Term Evolution- (LTE-) enabled iPad, you don’t need to search for a WiFi hotspot. That’s unless you’re using AT&T as a carrier, in which case you have to also upgrade to one of their expensive new tiered data plans, or you can’t use it.
The biggest disappointment is that Passbook doesn’t seem to come with the iPad version of iOS 6. For some reason, I wasn’t able to get an iPhone 5, so no luck trying out that feature. I guess Apple has decided that iPad users don’t go to Starbucks or fly on airplanes.
So the answer to the big question that I told everyone on Twitter I was going to ask is, definitely yes. But you probably didn’t see the question. What I asked was whether iOS 6 was worth the 50-minute upgrade process. The answer, as I said, is yes.
Actually, it’s worth a lot more than that. The new version of iOS provides some very nice features to iPad users, and even more nice features, like Passbook, to iPhone users. It’s a lot more of an upgrade than the move to iOS 5. I just hope they can fix that Facebook photo thing.