The September 2012 Inevitable Punditry Post

Yesterday Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, a new iPod nano, a new iPod touch and gave a brief recap of what people can expect to see in the upcoming iOS 6 operating system they will all (apart from the nano) run. I’m not going to repeat what they said because news sources have covered it extensively and you can watch the presentation if you want to. What I will do however is explain why I’ll not be rushing out to buy an iPhone 5 despite being a developer who really should test the apps they write on it due to the new screen size and also why I’m not going to be installing iOS 6 on my phone. Yet.

The iPhone 5 is a lovely iteration to a well-established device. A lot of the changes are under the hood and overall Apple appear to have moved on from revolution to evolution. I’m not expecting anything dramatic to happen to the iPhone as a device in the future. Apple will simply, when they are ready, release something new and change people’s perceptions of consumer electronics yet again… if they’re lucky.

I own and use an iPhone 4S as my day-to-day device and am perfectly happy with it. I don’t see a particular need to replace it yet (it’s under a year old) and I’m happy to wait for the iPhone 5S (or whatever it will be called) in a year or so. The LTE compatibility that is interesting a lot of people isn’t going to be relevant to me for some time due to the fact that I live in the countryside and, whilst the larger screen is nice, it’s not enough to make me spend several hundred pounds. In fact my plan is to buy an iPod touch which also has the new 4” screen and use that to test my apps on for user interface issues. Finally, the headphone socket being on the bottom of the phone actually puts me off the device in an odd way. My phone would have to live upside down in my pocket or in my car’s cup-holder which doubles as an iPhone holder whenever I want to use headphones or connect it to my car’s stereo.

So what about iOS 6? Generally it is a good update to iOS 5. Well apart from one thing. Apple have decided to replace the former Google-powered Maps app with one powered by their own mapping data (apparently sourced from OpenStreetMap and TomTom). Unfortunately the maps are simply not as rich as Google’s. The levels of detail are woeful by comparison, points-of-interest are in the wrong place, the satellite images are terrible and generally it is a massive step backwards.

Now I expect that the maps will improve and actually I’m expecting Google to release their own iOS maps application soon too (earlier this week they released a YouTube app to replace the one which was removed from iOS 6). When one of those has happened, probably the latter, then I will upgrade to iOS 6 on my phone but for now it’s too risky.

I use the current Maps application quite a lot when I am out walking or on my bike. Being able to see the layout of fields and lanes clearly and accurately is very helpful and, at times, essential and I don’t feel that Apple’s maps are at the stage where I could or would want to trust them. Again, part of this is because I live in the countryside but apparently maps for cities and towns also have a lot of issues.

So for me it’s no to a new iPhone 5 and no to iOS 6 on my iPhone 4S for now. I will be running iOS 6 on my iPad and it will be on my iPod touch when I get that but yesterday’s presentation wasn’t one that got me salivating and reaching for my wallet.