The hype is over, the iPhone 4S launched and many of us have upgraded to iOS5.  This is when you discover all those little annoyances that take the glaze off it.

There are many blogs out there already covering all the nice features of iOS5, and there are indeed many, but I thought I would focus on a few small issues.

Let's consider three things -- Siri; iMessage; Photo Stream

Siri

For those out of the loop, Siri is a truly amazing voice recognition tool which goes far beyond simple commands and into Artificial Intelligence.  The demos are slick and the experience in the real world appears to be equally pleasant.

What surprised me about Siri is that it is a beta product -- Apple never release incomplete products and while one could argue this is not incomplete, Apple clearly want to make sure you understand it is a beta.  It does beg the question -- why release a beta?  Siri is probably the most marked change to iOS and only available on the iPhone 4s --  making it the unique selling point for the 4S.  Did Apple rush it out the door under pressure to get a new device out this year?  Is that why it is still in beta?

Things you need to know about Siri:

  • When you 'speak' to the phone the voice analysis is done remotely at Apple's data centre.  It then send instructions back to your phone.  Not a big deal surely?  What is does mean is that Siri is useless without a 3G or wireless connection!
  • The lovely Apple demo -- "Find me a local restaurant" or "Whats' the traffic like"; "Give me directions to" -- they only work in America!  Siri currently does not support local information outside the USA -- Apple hope to open this further in early 2012.
  • Siri only understands UK, USA and Australian English, along with French and German.  If you speak English, French or German as your second language it will struggle.

iMessage

A great addition to iOS 5 -- when you send a text message the iPhone determines if the recipient is also an iOS device and sends the message via 3G or Wifi at no charge.  Great for people who don't always have a mobile signal but are in Wifi range.  The Apple presentation trumpeted the fact that you can start sending messages on one device and switch to another and continue the conversation; each of your devices will be in sync.

Things you need to know about iMessage:

  • Keeping your devices in sync is not easy and sometimes impossible.  If someone sends you a message from their iPhone the chances are they will pick your mobile number to send to.  This only comes to your mobile phone (via iMessage).  You may then reply and conduct a conversation.  None of this is syncing with your other device (say, your iPad).  If you then move to your iPad and start using 'Messaging' the conversation will be sync'd with your iPhone.  Basically, iMessage uses your Apple ID to keep things in sync, so if someone sends you a message using your Apple ID (email address) then all devices keep in sync, if they send it to your mobile number it will only be on your Phone.  Shame really, it would not have taken Apple much to keep them in Sync using their iCloud service.  FAIL!
  • To be clear, you can set your Caller ID in the Message settings to be your Apple ID (email address).  That way, if you start a new conversation on your iPhone it will sync between all your devices.

Photo Stream

Lovely idea -- you take pictures on your iPhone and these are automatically sync'd to your other devices.  The images appear in the photo streams of the other devices and you can choose to save them onto the device.

Things you need to know about Photo Stream:

  • You can't delete!  Seriously, you just can't!  Take a picture and it goes into the photo stream for thirty days after which it auto deletes.  If you are anything like me you will take several pictures of a subject and find one or two you like.  Those other 'bad' images hang around for thirty days.    You can see this could get embarrassing -- someone might grab your phone and take a joke picture which will be there to haunt you for thirty days.
  • The only way to delete a picture for photo steam is to wait the thirty days, or login to iCloud; reset the photo stream; go back to the device; turn off Photo Stream and back on -- ALL pictures in the stream removed.  Big Fail

I'm sure Apple will get around to fixing these little quirks in time but I felt it worthy of a mention just to keep you informed.

UPDATE:  Apple finally allow you to delete from Photo stream with the iOS 5.1 update

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