The Fifth (in November)

The transition to iOS 5 has been a relatively smooth one for me so far, which isn’t to say that there weren’t some adjustments to be made despite the amount of foreknowledge one might have concerning the major changes.

But, as always, it’s the little things that matter. Or, more to the point, the stuff that you quickly get used to, even if it’s unsung or invisible.

Nagging Center

Apple finally decided to do non-modal notifications, which in this case people were quick to point out they accomplished by taking Android‘s approach and “improving” upon it somewhat (mostly by ordering things differently and making notification settings both redundant and confusing).

But the downward swipe is something I’ve also enjoyed doing a lot in Android and Bada devices, even though it was somewhat tainted by my chagrin at Apple’s decision to remove multitasking gestures from iOS 5.0 - the upwards swipe to reveal the multitasking bar has a pleasing symmetry, and I think it should be a standard gesture on all devices.

The trouble with the current approach, though, is that notifications have a fairly reduced amount of screen real estate to themselves on your average lock screen. After a few weeks of constant use, I’ve switched off or downplayed notifications on most apps to both save on battery life and to make sure the important stuff stays visible, and wish there was some kind of priority setting apps could use.

Nevertheless, it’s easily the one feature of iOS 5 I rely on the most, and a welcome one.

Untether And Rejoice

I’ve been wanting it for years, and finally, iTunes Wi-Fi syncing actually worked - and with multiple devices simultaneously, much to my surprise (and my mini’s, which sluggishly indulged the ethereal prodding of three of its iOS cousins) even if with some glitches - for instance, I could only get e-books to sync after selecting one and syncing that, and then toggling the option to “all”.

But the inconvenience of syncing to only one library remains, and it is grating. Especially on the iPad, where I often want to load media or books either at the office or at home (and, at home, from either my laptop or my oft-neglected Mac mini), it feels stupendously ridiculous.

Documents are squirted instantly across, though, which is good, and I can put up with using Dropbox to store most of the stuff I might need on the go (I’m also trying out the free 50GB offering, but it is, in a word, lame without a proper desktop client, and I’ve used it exactly twice so far).

After all, syncing is also merging, and it would hardly be difficult to merge music libraries, even if I had to use an Apple ID to tie everything together. Oh, but wait, there’s Home Sharing, right?

Wrong. Home Sharing is also a continuing disappointment, for there is no way to download songs to your iOS device. Furthermore, with iTunes Match hanging in limbo for non-US (or rather, non-hegemonic territories that content providers don’t care to include in their byzantine deals), even the opportunity of paying for being able to pick and match whatever conglomerate-approved media I want to enjoy on the move is denied to me.


I’be been waiting for iMessage since the original iPhone shipped (and yes, it’s been in the works at least that long, if not more), mostly in hope that it would interoperable via XMPP with something, even if merely with iChat. Or something1.

Guess what, it doesn’t, and given Apple’s decision to accept any e-mail address, I’m guessing it will never support XMPP federation or achieve full IM interoperability - but I’d rather it actually were easier to ignore and allow me to force sending an SMS - a mandatory requirement when people have multiple devices or car phones2.

iCloud Backup

I love it. It’s about the only iCloud feature that I find worth paying for, and the one thing I’d fix is that if (like any parent with nosy kids) you have restrictions enabled and disallow account changes, you have absolutely no way to check backup status or trigger one manually.


I can’t for the life of me figure out why Apple took this long to acknowledge that people use task lists and want to do so on the move. Besides their strange decision to break up calendaring and tasks into separate CalDAV stores (which is one way to make it easier to manage multiple task lists separately from calendars, I suppose) and the lack of the geofencing features on my older iPhone, the one thing that irks me is the inability to quickly manipulate priorities, even on the iPad - where you have plenty of screen real estate to tackle the UI issues.

But it’s usable, and good enough for me to ditch the third-party solutions I’ve been using.


Seriously, it needs a kill switch of some sort (why can’t I hide it using restrictions, at the very least?). I personally find it useless, at least for the moment.

The Rest

Oh, there’s plenty more to like (like automatic app downloads across devices), and a few annoying flaws with things like Photo Stream3, but the best part is that it works across all of my devices except the iPhone 3G I keep around as a backup, and I hope this sets a trend - obsolescence is all fine and good, but one can only take so much of it.

  1. A few rumors have come to light recently regarding both iChat and FaceTime integration with iMessage, but I’m still wondering why there are two separate desktop apps. Someone needs to get that straightened out first, I think. ↩︎

  2. You can do a long press on the “Send” button to do that, but it feels like a kludge. ↩︎

  3. Screenshots are sent to it too, videos are not, you can’t remove anything from your stream, and there is no way to view multiple streams on, say, an Apple TV, or a single iPhoto library. ↩︎