Tech-Friendly: Apple iOS a worthy upgrade, unless you’re addicted to Google Maps

Editor’s note: Per newspaper policy, Paul Gorski will take a mandatory hiatus from politics in his column as he runs for Winnebago County Board in the Nov. 6 election. Meantime, he will write a technology column titled “Tech-Friendly.”

By Paul Gorski

Apple, Inc., recently released iOS 6, a major upgrade of the operating system for its popular iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Each major upgrade usually breaks new ground with a unique mobile device feature but also plays catch-up with Android OS. iOS 6 is no different.

If you are thinking “I’ve read this review before,” not exactly. Most iOS 6 press is about how poorly the iOS 6 Maps compares to the iOS 5 Maps app it replaces, but iOS 6 Maps: 1) offers features iOS 5 Maps doesn’t, and 2) many Rockford-area iPhone/iPad users may not care about maps.

The iOS 5 Map app used Google Maps technology, while iOS 6 Maps uses primarily TomTom (car GPS) map technology. The new Maps app features turn-by-turn directions, a tool already enjoyed by Android users, but certain Google Maps features such as street view and public transit routing are missing in iOS 6 Maps. New Maps app users gain Yelp! reviews and maps that are easier to store on your iPad or iPhone.

Yelp! is an online service that offers customer reviews for local restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses. So, not only can you find a place to meet your friends, but a place that comes highly recommended. Yelp! integration would be more useful to Rockford residents if there were more local reviews.

Breaking new mobile ground, iOS 6 Maps automatically stores recent map data, and a lot of it, entire regions, instead of neighborhoods, for convenient offline viewing. This advancement is made possible by vector-based map technology. Vector-based mapping isn’t new, but Apple has made significant improvements.

Instead of storing large map pictures, vector technology mathematically builds the map, allowing for more map information with less data. AppleInsider has a great article about the vector technology driving iOS 6 Maps at:

A map is only important to those who need it. Most Rockford residents work and shop nearby, and you may decide a map app is not a high priority. Not that we don’t travel, but many of us don’t travel often or that far, compared to the nearly 30 percent of people in Chicago’s collar counties who commute to work outside their hometowns.

So, while you might miss Google Maps when on vacation, you may never miss it while at home. You might also install the MapQuest map app — an app complete with directions, traffic mapping and local business listings.

I still want my Google Maps,” you say, then don’t upgrade to iOS 6. If you’re not addicted to IOS 5’s Maps, upgrade to iOS 6. iOS 6 is a solid upgrade, offering security updates, better Facebook integration, Siri voice control for new iPads, and a map program that while not perfect, lays the groundwork for a more versatile mobile mapping solution.

View the full list of iOS 6 features at:

Paul Gorski has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments that he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the Oct. 17-23, 2012, issue

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