I wrote about my biggest annoyance with iOS 5 being the new Notification Center, now let’s talk about my favorite part of iOS 5: Over the Air Everything. From the OTA Delta updates to iOS itself, to iCloud, to WiFi sync — this is the stuff that really makes iOS devices feel magic.
These are the real problems that iOS 5 solves, and it does so very well. What Apple has done is to truly create a device that you need never plug into a computer and as a user that feels magical in the same way that pinch-to-zoom feels magical — what other way would you do it?
The most minor feature for power users is also one of the bigger features for ‘regular’ users — over the air, delta, updates of iOS. This means you only download the parts that changed and install those parts without ever plugging it into a computer.
Incredibly, this was the most stable part of the beta process for me with iOS 5 — never once did I have an issue with this.
The reason this is so huge for the general iOS user base is developers now can reasonably expect users to keep their devices updated. Even if a user isn’t up-to-date it is no longer “too much to ask” if you suggest that they update their phones.
This is also something that general geeks should rejoice about: now you can trust that your parents can update their phones without you holding their hands — hooray!
In all honesty this is going to be a bigger deal than I think most people realize because prior to iOS there was no easy, painless, way to keep your device updated — now there is.
I won’t spend too much time on this, but we now have WiFi syncing. It’s just as slow as naysayers thought it would be and just has handy as the beggars wanted it to be.
All in all, if I need to sync my iPhone or iPad I still prefer to plug it in. Not because WiFi sync is inherently bad, but because I tend to never leave my Mac on and thus am always waiting for the sync to finish — why not spend less time waiting and plug in.
If you have a Mac that is left on all the time, then this likely will be a great tool for you — but for us Laptop only people it’s of limited utility.
Of course iCloud is big and important, there are a ton of nice little things in iCloud already, but I think there will be many more great things to come in iCloud next year. iCloud is the first step in the right direction for cloud syncing, now we just need it everywhere.
My two favorite parts so far:
iTunes Match is the biggest of the new iCloud features. Allowing you to store all of your music from iTunes in the “iCloud” and download that music to your devices at will.
It takes a bit to get setup, but from there on out it works just as described. One thing that drives me nuts is that when you activate iTunes Match you delete all songs off your device — forcing you to re-download them OTA.
This isn’t bad if you don’t like to store a bunch of music on your device, but if you like to keep a base collection of 1-2GB — well you are in for some tedious work of getting that music back on each device.1
This is just about the only annoyance I have with iTunes Match, so overall this is a huge plus.
This is, hands down, my favorite iOS 5 feature. The daily backups done when on WiFi and plugged in — typically while I sleep. Here’s why I love it:
- I can now restore my phone from anywhere that I can get online.
- I can set my phone to delete all contents after 10 tries — without worry of losing anything.
- It’s automatic, the way all backups should be.
- It’s invisible to the user.
- It’s so easy that my Mom, Wife, Dad, Sisters, et al can use this.
- It backs up the camera roll.
This is just an excellent feature, priced right, and man is it good. The backups take a while to restore, but you can still use the phone while it restores — how great is that?
Sign up for iCloud and start the backups now — there’s no reason not too.
Overall Apple’s move to cable independence is a huge plus for users and I have a feeling Apple is just getting started.