The Buzz: What they're saying about iOS 6

Now that iOS 6 is officially available, iPhone and iPad users haven't been shy in sharing their opinions about it and its 200-plus new features and updates. As you'd expect, they flocked to Twitter and the blogosphere to share their thoughts about the good (turn-by-turn directions!), the bad (missing data in Maps, slow installs, and Wi-Fi problems), and the absent (public transit maps).

Slow installation

Logically enough, the first thing people wrote about was the installation process—specifically, the amount of time it took. (I know that, for me, that process took 1 hour and 21 minutes, installing the new OS over the air onto my iPhone 4.) I figured the install would take a while, but not that long. I was clearly not alone.

But, alas, that’s what happens when you install a new piece of software the first day it’s available. (It didn't help that our downloads were competing with the latest OS X updates that Apple released the same day.)

Up and down with Maps

Arguably the biggest overhaul in iOS 6 is the new Maps app. Apple ditched the old Google maps app in favor of building their own. Many new users were impressed with the new Flyover feature and turn-by-turn directions.

But the cheers for Maps were crowded out by jeers (that's the way it usually works). The app's lack of integrated public transportation info was generally decried. Instead, Apple directs you to find third-party transit apps in the App Store instead. The previous version of Maps—based on Google's mapping data—included local public transit.

Our own Dan Moren had an explanation of his own in his epic review of iOS 6: “I suspect that handling public transit directions simply wasn’t an option for Apple at this point, and if it came down to offering a third-party experience versus no feature at all, Apple opted to not leave its users completely high-and-dry.”

But with any new product release, even a company like Apple must resort to a bit of trial and error. “The idea is that you need to collect usage data to improve your data," said John Gruber of Daring Fireball, "The only way for Apple to get from here to there is to release what they have now and improve the data as millions of people start using it.”

Wireless woes

The other controversy on launch day was the mysterious Wi-Fi outage that seemed to hit everyone who'd upgraded their iPhones or iPads to iOS 6. People reported that either their iPhones wouldn't stay connected to wireless networks or that their browsers were directed to an Apple error page. However, the problem didn't last for too long, and as of Thursday morning the reports of this issue have stopped.

The new and improved Siri 

Siri is the other highly touted upgrade in iOS 6: The virtual assistant has expanded its range of knowledge to sports and entertainment. Some laud it, others say it still feels like a beta product.

John Brownlee, of Cult of Mac is one of the latter: “When Siri gives bad answers where previously she gave good ones, it seems as if she didn’t have quite enough time and energy to think things through. In other words, Siri’s failings seem to be tied to server load."

Passbook

While Apple has touted the new Passbook feature—which stores electronic tickets and coupons in one handy app—on launch it wasn't quite up to snuff. The main reason: Few vendors had yet signed up for it.

A few users found a tricky work around to force Passbook to connect to the App Store: They set the date and time of their iPhones to a date a few months into the future. Several people tried this and said it worked fine, according to a forum discussion on Apple.com.

Others who were actually lucky enough to get the feature up and running had issues using Passbook tickets in real life. TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington attempted to purchase and use a movie ticket through Passbook, but had problems once he got to the theater. "Arrived at the theatre, tried to present the Passbook app to the desk staff. They didn’t know what it was, also understandable since it’s brand new. Gamely tried to scan it with their handheld bar code scanner, nothing happened. They referred me upstairs, to a mobile ticketing kiosk," he said.

On a TechCrunch forum, Sandeep Mani wrote, "Passbook is a sheer disappointment. They should not have released it at such an infancy stage, with customers having no idea on how it works, and not to mention even their advertised apps not being available currently...getting errors like 'could not connect to itunes store' doesn't help either!"

Mail, Find my Friends, and more.

Another Apple app, Find my Friends, got a few updates, too: It now has push notifications and geofencing capabilities. One thing that stayed the same was its quirky design. TechHive associate editor Nick Mediati says, “Find my Friends still looks like a leather jacket.”The Mail app got a slight feature boost: You can now attach photos straight from an e-mail message, rather than going to your Photos and e-mailing it from there. This seemingly small update fixed a major annoyance, and it didn't go unnoticed.

As the iOS 6 installs increase over the next few days, we'll certainly learn more about its successes and shortcomings, especially when people unbox their new iPhone 5s on Friday.

At least we now have a pizza emoji icon.

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