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Finally upgraded to iOS 6, but was it worth the trouble?

Sections: Features, iPad, iPhone OS, SDK and hacks, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Opinions and Editorials, Originals

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I’m late to the party as usual with operating system upgrades, but I finally did get around to installing iOS 6 (more precisely, iOS 6.0.1) on my iPad 2 over the weekend. I usually wait for the early adopters to scout out new OS releases while I wait to see how the dust settles before proceeding.

Aside from the Maps debacle, iOS 6 appears to be reasonably solid for most users, so I figured it was time, being as I’m beginning to encounter apps that ask for it as a minimum supported system spec.

The upgrade download and install went smoothly enough, albeit taking a whopping three hours over my ISP’s only middling-fast wireless high-speed network. However, I just opened iTunes on my MacBook, plugged the iPad into a USB port, okayed the upgrade, initiated the download, and left to let the software do its stuff. That it did successfully, and when I returned after a meal and some TV-watching, my iPad was running on iOS 6.0.1 and everything seemed to be shipshape.

I should note that I’d done a global backup of the iPad’s contents a few days before, and recommend doing that before running any OS upgrade or update.

So far, after a few days running iOS 6, I’m giving it mixed reviews. I had been reasonably content with iOS 5.1′s performance, save for the app compatibility matter, and version 6 hasn’t addressed any of my main iOS gripes such as its text-handling shortcomings, lack of multi-window multitasking, no access to the file system, and so forth.

Not having to enter one’s Apple ID to run routine app updates is convenient, but the “whoosh” indicator email sent sound no longer being related to actual confirmation that the message or photo has indeed been sent is a brain-dead regression, eliminating the sound’s practical usefulness. Whose brilliant idea was that?

Another observation is that iOS 6.0.1 seems no faster or slicker than version 5.1 did, and indeed my gut impression is that it may even be more sluggish. Also, touchscreen responsiveness seems less positive. I’ve never been a heavy user of Maps on the iPad, so the now-legendary deficiencies of Apple’s new iOS Maps app is not a serious issue for me. Actually, for areas I frequent, it’s quite decent, and I’m not sure I don’t like it better than I do the erstwhile Google Maps in 5.1.

Back in the plus column, a side-benefit of installing the new(ish) OS is that it appears to have optimized memory storage capacity on my iPad’s 16GB flash drive. Just prior to running the upgrade, the monitor bar in iTunes indicated that I had 8.6 GB free capacity left on the drive. I thought that wasn’t too bad for after 19 months of daily use, much of it for production work. However, after installing iOS 6, I checked to see how much storage capacity that had eaten up, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I now had 9.6 GB free storage capacity in reserve. I can’t recall whether a similar phenomenon manifested when I upgraded from iOS 4.3 to 5, and later 5.1.

Anyway having significantly more than half the iPad’s storage capacity still free and available after 19 months of steady service vindicates my decision to go with the base model’s 16 GB memory capacity. I’m glad I didn’t cautiously elect to pop for the 32 GB model.

My reasoning at the time had been that a device like the iPad would probably be ready for replacement by the time I used up 16 GB of data storage, and that deduction appears to be holding up well, although with the qualification that I use my iPad primarily as a work tool and not as an entertainment device. I don’t have a large music collection, don’t store movies to TV shows on my ‘Pad, have only a handful of games loaded up, and don’t store a lot of photos either. Your mileage may vary, and I’ll be doing some head-scratching myself over whether to go with 16 GB again when I get my next iPad.

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