Welcome to Part 2 of my thoughts on the new iPhone4s, if your interested in Part 1 which focuses on the camera and comparison against the Samsung Galaxy SII you’re welcome to read it here.
So iCloud and iMessage are new additions into IOS5 along with the new notification panel and so far I am very impressed, I love that this is the new standard for consumer experience and I’m excited for the innovation for the ‘living in the cloud’ future we seem to be fast approaching.
Now I say this with a *sigh* because I know it will invoke the trolls…. “200 new features” really? No seriously… really? Ok now that I have gotten that out of my system, the update to IOS was greatly needed and will satisfy those in the Apple ecosystem. I actually like the new features, even coming from an Android background. I like the compromise for the widgets by placing them in the notifications pane, and on that note the notification has been designed beautifully. Unlike on Android, the notifications are grouped and easy to read, it is very clear to the user unlike previous versions of IOS will the silly blue pop-up which just seemed to annoy and get in the way.
I have mixed feelings with iMessage, when I first used this on my iPad before I got the iPhone4s I loved it, I thought it made so much sense. Combining SMS and the features of sending a message via a data connection really appealed to me… I have been looking forward to the death of SMS for a long time. I know some of my friends who refuse to send messages through 3rd party messaging apps because they do not have data plans… they do however have unlimited SMS plans.. and this is what they choose because of connivence and budget. This frustrates me because if you look at the costs at sending a data message it is technically better value without using unlimited sms ‘deals’ etc. Anyway I’m ranting… sorry.
iMessage, I like how it is transparent to the user. It the same interface for either sending a SMS or a data iMessage, just enter the contact and the service works it out. The big limitation is going to be that this is only available on IOS… Thus unfortunately I think it is going to turn into the next Facetime, used by a niche but not widely adopted. Until Apple open this up it is going to be the small feature in the background but not really making it to the mainstream.
iCloud, well it has been almost a week but as much as I initially liked it, I just don’t see myself using it longterm. Photostream is definitely the best advantage I have personally gotten out of it I think it is well implemented, turn it on and the photos magically appear on all your devices in the ‘stream’, a tiny noticeable delay (about 5-10mins) is not something I’m personally worried about but sometimes I do get annoyed not knowing if it is syncing and there is no button I can mash to make it go faster. On the Android side of the fence I use Dropbox to keep everything in sync, with this at least I know because it is a central location I can check the status of the upload or if it isn’t yet on Dropbox before I complain something hasn’t shown up on my other devices.. I think I’m an impatient control freak in this regard so an average user probably will just sit back and say ‘Yay! my photos have now appeared’.
The second thing I will say about iCloud is, it has arrived very late in the game for me… I am already too invested in Google Sync, which for me I’ve already been taking advantage of the Contact/Calendar etc. sync features of this platform… Seriously I’ve been syncing my stuff with Google for years.. Yes, YEARS. I probably started around 2006/2007 and it has been working solidly since.. I’m actually still surprised during day-to-day IT work duties people still complain about ‘losing’ contacts etc. because they don’t store this type of data on a syncing service. Notably I’ve seen people on my Twitter feed talk up iCloud because of this syncing feature, “I just keyed all my days off into my calendar for all of 2012 – thank you iCloud” Please… OK sorry, I’m being over critical because I am in the ‘tech know how’ but I believe this is a good indication on how the average consumer is going to react to functionality of iCloud. People that don’t know any better are going to adore/love it, the Technorati will let out a slow *sigh* and meh.
So my final thoughts?
Well the iPhone4s is a solid phone, I don’t think anyone getting one is going to be disappointed especially if you already come from an IOS environment. If you are from the Android side of the fence, you can not doubt quality of the camera but I have personally noticed a loss in functionally I had been accustom to from the Android platform. The iPhone4s is a much-needed update to the Apple line which is currently being smoked by the competition and what seems like monthly updates from 3rd party vendors spitting out new phones every couple of months. Apple have kept a sensible and seemingly fixed timeline to ensure a steady update cycle, but I do not feel they can keep this slower pace in the long-term. Apple will need to either speed up there release cycle or dramatically improve functionality/design in each product iteration, otherwise they are going to get left behind.
I don’t see myself using the iPhone4s in a months time as my primary phone, I do see myself using it for those special events/times I want a reliable phone where I might need a really good camera (so it is pretty much my point and shoot camera replacement device) and although some people have complained about battery life the iPhone4s for me at least it seems to last the distance in that regard. I’m lucky because I can pick up and choose which phone I want to use, if I was an average user that just had to pick one? Your seriously going to have to ask yourself “What do I need the phone for and how am I going to use it?” I said it in Part 1, but if you use a phone camera at least once a day (or very frequently) the iPhone4s is probably your only choice.. You could get away with another phone but will probably cause you more frustration than just being able to spam the picture-taking button on the iPhone4s.
If you want a phone that doesn’t limit you, maybe for more productive circumstances (maybe coming from a blackberry environment?) I think an Android device might be the way to go. I think Google are investing a lot more time going into the enterprise space than Apple who concentrate on consumer level features. Google is really attacking the market of existing Blackberry/Windows phone users, where I’m almost certain Apple are going to rely on their existing users for market share. If you want to debate me on this (get into the brand fandom), fine. But a lot of the consumer research I’ve seen is showing this regarding brand loyalty. etc.
This post has probably been more text heavy and rant driven than I would have liked, but this is how I really feel about the products. Please remember before commenting too harshly that I acknowledge my bias where possible then try to explain and give reasons why. I hate being absolutist so I’ll probably never give a definitive answer which phone/platform is the best and you should get it. I think the pros and cons, plus the added value of competition makes the smart phone market exciting, but also confusing so I’m happy to help out if you have a genuine comment or question to put to me.