iOS 9 – What I Like and Dislike so far

The public beta of iOS 9 has been out for a while (in fact the second version was just released recently) and I have been trying it out on my first generation iPad Air. I think that the new features are well covered by tech blogs and other news sites, so in this post I am going to share with you what I like and dislike about the new iOS so far.

A few disclaimers first before I begin:

  • iOS 9 is still in beta (though I must say it has been rather stable so far!) and things might change in future releases!
  • I am running the beta on a first generation iPad Air. Some features may or may not be available for your device.
  • I believe that not all features are/will be available in Singapore.

So with that out of the way, let’s begin! Continue reading iOS 9 – What I Like and Dislike so far

Messaging on iOS

Messages on iOSI love Messages on iOS. It is a quick and reliable way of texting my friends. It is integrated tightly into iOS, so it is super convenient to use. It allows me to contact all my friends, unlike 3rd party applications where I can only contact my friends on that platform. Best of all, it syncs across my iPhone, iPad and Mac, so I am not limited to texting on a single device.

However, despite all its virtues, one thing really irks me – that iMessages threads on iOS are not organized by contacts. As iMessage can use both phone numbers and email addresses as iMessage IDs, I end up with multiple conversation threads with the same contact when a change in iMessage ID occurs e.g. from the phone number to the iCloud email address (different iMessage IDs, but belonging to the same contact). This is confusing and disrupts the fluidity of the conversation, especially after a long conversation has already been established. (Of course, this does not happen when I use standard SMS to text my non-iPhone friends as SMSes can only be sent and received using phone numbers)

The same problem does not exist in the OS X version of Messages, which organizes conversation threads by contacts – messages sent by different iMessage IDs are grouped together under one thread as long as the IDs all belong to the same contact. I feel that this is a much more elegant solution.

So if there is one thing I wish for in future versions of iOS, it is for Messages on iOS to organize message threads by contacts rather than iMessage IDs (or at least give us the option to choose). In the meantime, I hope my friends will take the trouble to configure their iMessage settings correctly.

To configure your iMessages settings and save your OCD friends the annoyance of having multiple iMessage threads on their iOS devices:

  1. Open the Settings App
  2. Go to Messages → Send and Receive
  3. Take note of/change the iMessage ID under “Start New Conversations From”
  4. Review the iMessage ID every time you switch SIM cards, restore your device or migrate to a new device

Your friends will thank you for it.

iPhone 5

It’s really easy to make a new product that is bigger, everyone does that. That’s not the challenge. The challenge is to make it better and smaller. – Phil Schiller

Once again, as with every over-hyped Apple event, there is a wave of disappointment rippling through the interwebs over the announcement of the iPhone 5. “Why isn’t the screen wider (or larger)?” seems to be the most common complaint, given that many competitors already offer phones with screen sizes varying from 4.5″ up to 7″.

But do you really want a wider screen? The answer should be no. For most people, the current iPhones are just wide (or narrow, depending on how you perceive things) enough to hold comfortably in one hand. While holding it in one hand, my thumb is just able to reach the “Q” character on the soft keyboard (without over stretching) when texting from my iPhone. And that is the way I like it – most other phones with wider screens that I’ve tried are too wide to type with one hand and too narrow to type with two. With that in mind, it is impossible to make a screen much larger than 4″ without making it ridiculously tall – and there are already some complaints where the top of the screen is slightly too tall to reach comfortably with one hand.

As a current owner of an iPhone 4 and being fully eligible for a re-contract, upgrading to the iPhone 5 (when it is available in Singapore) is a no brainer. It offers me the full features of iOS 6, many of which I would not be able to enjoy on my iPhone 4 (such as Facetime over cellular network and turn-by-turn navigation, just to name a few). It also offers a substantial increase in performance, theoretically up to 4x the CPU performance and over 10x the graphics performance over the iPhone 4, as well as faster cellular network speeds (support for 4G LTE), a dramatically improved camera and longer battery life.

Update: And so I got one.