According to the published reports ahead of the release of iOS 6, it was due to arrive at 10:00 AM Pacific on September 19; adjust the timing depending on where you live. But at 9:45 AM, one Mac rumor site was already touting its availability, so I quickly launched iTunes to see if I could upgrade my iPhone 4s.
At first, I kept getting responses that iOS 5.1.1 is the latest version, but finally hit pay dirt at 9:58. Unfortunately, iTunes 10.7 betrayed me. After choosing the Download and Install option, it would revert to the previous Check for Update button. After a few failures, I quit iTunes, relaunched it, and, after being confronted with the same problem, choose Download instead. That worked and, after a successful download, I clicked Update to complete the process.
From beginning to end, the update took about half an hour. At the same time, I attempted to upgrade a third generation iPad via the cloud. The existence of iOS 6 wasn’t confirmed until 10:05, but the download of the full package, over 600MB of stuff, took roughly an hour to complete. Since I have a mighty speedy broadband connection, and the iPad was less than 10 feet from my Cisco/Linksys EA4500 router, I expect Apple’s servers were just slammed. The iPhone download took minutes to complete, so it didn’t interfere with the iPad’s update. Finally, after 90 minutes, the iPad made its final restart, and I ran through the initial setup assistant.
After rummaging around for a few minutes, I could see some immediate differences in interfaces between the iPhone and the iPad, almost as if Apple’s iOS team was being playful on the former. The black status bar on the iPhone, translucent in the OS X fashion with the wallpaper background, switches to a medium gray in the Mail and Phone apps. I did not observe this effect on the iPad.
Apple has also enhanced the bounceback feature in Mail, with an extra visual flourish. I just wonder if that is a way for Apple to stick it to Samsung, since bounceback is one of the iOS features that Samsung has been found guilty of infringing.
One real enhancement now displays the progress of all your updates in App Store. Instead of jumping back to the desktop to watch the progress bars on each separate app, it’s all in one place. After the update is finished, there’s an Open button to tap for each app. This makes the process smoother, as is the less frequent need to enter your Apple ID password. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an Update All option on the iPad; it’s present and accounted for on the iPhone. I’m not sure if this is a one-time glitch or a feature rather than a bug, so I’ll continue to watch this behavior as more and more apps receive iOS 6 updates. Apple sent a bunch out after the iOS release. Some, such as iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand, with a decent range of new features. With GarageBand 1.3, for example, you can now “Play or record with GarageBand in the background while using other apps.” It’s the sort of useful multitasking update that makes sense.
Apple also introduced the expected Mountain Lion 10.8.2 update with Face-book support and a bunch of other enhancements. Those of you who have complained about the way Save As was restored to Macs running Mountain Lion will appreciate the feature that now offers: “An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.” If it works as advertised, the way it’s always worked in older Mac OS and OS X versions, it’s a sensible change to a feature that Apple sadly broke.
Now during the 10.8.2 beta process, The Mac Observer and other tech publications reported that Mac note-book battery life problems, introduced with the original Mountain Lion release, had been fixed in the beta versions. The recent 10.8.1 update addressed some of the shorter battery life symptoms, but 10.8.2 may have gone the final step. But that’s yet to be determined. Nothing about the problem is mentioned in the release notes, but missing details are nothing new for Apple.
Or maybe another fix is coming in the future.
Other than the flaky iOS 6 downloads, which I would blame on clogged servers, everything seems to be working all right. 10.8.2 appears to be well behaved on a late 2009 iMac and 2010 MacBook Pro. Both an iPhone 4s and new iPad are working flawlessly with iOS 6. I’m also curious how my wife will treat the arrival of Siri on the iPad. The only downside is that “her” voice on the iPad appears to be more computerized than the one on an iPhone. That’s unfortunate.
In any case, I’m particularly anxious to give Apple’s new Maps app a whirl. I occasionally use the navigation feature on my Honda with mixed success. Some of the early reviews about Maps indicate inconsistencies, and the lack of information about public transportation is a bummer. This may convince bus and subway goers in New York City, for example, not to upgrade until this problem is addressed (yes I know there are third-party public transit apps).
On the other hand, this is the initial version, and it will probably take a while to fix the glitches and add some of the missing features. In the meantime, Apple has gained yet another level of freedom from Google, which is what it’s really all about.