In this week’s iOS 5 feature spotlight, I’d like to talk briefly about two features that I finally got around to using this week – Native Photo Editing and OTA firmware updates. Both of them surprised me in unexpected ways, so let’s get started.
Native Photo Editing
In the (not too distant) past, we’ve always had to rely on third party apps to help us touch up the photos that we either took on the iPad, or downloaded natively to the device with the Camera Connector Kit. The iPad, with its larger screen, is a much more intuitive (and much snappier) device to edit photos than either the iPhone or the iPod Touch. Having used Photoshop Express and a handful of other photo editing tools on the iPad, I knew how useful this feature will be and was excited to test this feature out.
What I found, however, is a photo-editing tool that was far too…simplified and mindless for my inner photographer. The tool comes with 4 (yes, only 4) functions: Rotate (Counter-Clockwise), Red-Eye Reduction, Crop and Auto Enhance (a.k.a. colour-boost); each of which is self explanatory. Except for cropping, the tools were one-click solutions that take the effort out of ‘shopping, effectively taking away all personal control and style out of the photo. With cropping, the tool simply felt slow and less responsive than what I would’ve liked. While each of those features were well though out, I ultimately found that only the Auto Enhance function to be of any use. The other functions felt cludgy, in spite of the large screen real estate, removing user controls, or simply not useful for photos that I usually take with an iPad.
If you were expecting the same level of control that the other tools allowed, you will be sorely disappointed with Apple’s implementation of editing in the Photo app, but for the vast majority of users, I think the tool will take the tedium of photo editing out. Still, I think this feature is simply a better fit for the iPhone/iPod Touch where fast, on-the-go, direct to Twitter/Facebook uploading will make this the hot feature for iOS 5.
Over The Air (OTA) Firmware Upgrades
With iOS 5b4 released this week, Apple opened up the ability to do delta (or differential) upgrades over the air, which can be both a blessing or a pandora’s box of troubles. A blessing because it suddenly allows the iPad to become a truly untethered device that doesn’t need to be synced with a PC or a Mac, as well as because it drops the overall OS download file size to less than a third of the full firmware (downloading 600 MB for a firmware update takes a toll on your bandwidth, let alone downloading 3 of those for all the iDevices in our lives). However, delta OTA updates can be tricky to set up correctly, and is prone to brick the device if it’s not done correctly.
I’m happy to say, though, that Apple’s implementation seems to work as advertised, and the iPad updated itself with no hitches. The firmware downloaded in the background, without interruptions until the device was ready to be updated. Good job, Apple. I did not expect this to work so well.
Hopefully, iOS 5 will be released publicly soon, and all of you can start playing with these new features and let us know what you think of the latest iteration of iOS in our forums and comments!
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Posted under: iPad Firmware