What else is putting the iPhone 5 on the map

specialises in smartphone reporting for the BBC Academy

So users of the latest iPhone are back on Street View following Google’s release of its Maps app for the iPhone 5.

And the word on the street - or at least on Twitter - is that people will now finally be updating to iOS6 instead of keeping the iOS 5 operating system which held on to the controversial Apple Maps based on maps supplied by TomTom.

Apple Maps came in for criticism after the autumn release of the new handset, as this blog has documented, when some of the search results were found to be inaccurate. Even Apple’s boss Tim Cook apologised for the maps in iOS 6. As BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones argues, Apple had little choice but to approve the new app.

Away from maps, however, there are other aspects of the iPhone 5’s software (and hardware) that affect journalists wanting to use it for reporting. I looked at some of them when the handset launched in September:

Under the hood, as I gather Apple staff are fond of saying, is the new operating system iOS 6. It’s pre-installed in the iPhone 5 but can be downloaded to the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS.

iOS 6 isn’t as new as the new iPhone. It first saw the light of day back in June at Apple’s conference for developers. Among the 200 changes and tweaks which are part of iOS 6, some will be useful for journalists.

Email remains a mainstay for most journalists and a new feature will help them sort the signal from the noise by marking certain contacts or colleagues ‘VIP’. Those emails will be put into a separate inbox.

To set a contact as a VIP, tap on their name in Mail. That will bring up the Sender page. From there, tap on ‘Add to VIP’. You can then read your VIP mails by going to the VIP area under All Inboxes in the Mail option.

Adding a photo or video to a draft email has got a little bit easier too in iOS 6. Tap and hold on a blank area in the email until the cut-and-paste menu appears. Then tap on the right arrow until you see ‘Insert Photo or Video’. You will then see your Camera Roll and Photostream, allowing you to select the media you'd like to attach to the email.

One final change with emails: instead of ending with the same signature regardless of the account you’re sending from, you can now have a different message for each email account you have on your phone. To edit the signature for each email account, navigate to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and scroll down to Signature. Tap on Signature and then on Per Account, and add the personalised signature you want for each account.

There’s also a new way of putting photos and videos into an email, which is a simple yet effective way of sending content gathered in the field.

Keeping in contact is clearly crucial, but so, sometimes, is the ability to work or even sleep without too many interruptions. Turning the phone off is one option; a new one in iOS 6 is ‘Do not disturb’. When activated, either ad-hoc or according to a schedule, DND silences calls and alerts so there are no lights or sounds even though the phone remains on.

Here’s the clever bit: if the newsroom or a contact REALLY needs to get hold of a journalist, either certain numbers can be pre-set NOT to be included in DND or several phone calls from the same number in a three-minute period will override DND’s settings. (It’s hard to imagine a newsroom abusing this, clearly…) 

Similar to DND is a new ‘Privacy’ option which lets you quickly see which app is requesting what information and disable it if and when required, which might be useful in hostile environments.

You’ll also find ‘Location services’ are now in the ‘Privacy’ section. One thing worth considering here is turning OFF targeted ads: Go to Settings > General > About, then flick down to Advertising. Tap and then slide on ‘Limit Ad Tracking’. Now you can keep marketers from bombarding you with targeted ads on your iOS device.

Two additional functions connected to phone calls (and, believe it or not, the iPhone can make and receive calls) is the ability to respond to a call with a text message or set up a call-back reminder. Replying to a call with a text is certainly an advance for Apple, although it is a feature I was using on my trusty (now rusty) Nokia N95 back in 2007 - a phone one colleague still swears by, rather than at. 

Live video calls, through Apple’s FaceTime system, are now possible over 3G, and not just over Wi-Fi as was previously the case. This gives journalists another option for ‘going live’ with just their iPhone before a TV truck reaches them.

Using FaceTime will eat up data and is also power-intensive, so be aware of those issues ahead of using FaceTime for broadcasts. The phone should be held horizontally, and the ‘receiving’ phone needs to be routed through to an output path so the FaceTime call can be put to air.

Facebook is being integrated into the iPhone in the way that Twitter was in iOS 5. As a result, a journalist will be able to post content from most apps directly to their Facebook page. However, a journalist can’t post directly from within their iPhone to, say, their newspaper’s Facebook page - only to their personal page.

There’s also a quick way to post to Facebook - and tweet too. Swipe from the top of the screen downwards to bring up the Notification Centre, and you should see both ‘tap to post’ and ‘tap to tweet’.

One advance that will be useful is the ability to post videos in HD quality – so long as the iPhone is able to record in HD in the first place (which some older models can’t).  

If you have a 4S or a 5, you can use the new panorama option on the camera to take a wide view of the scene in front of you. Open up the Camera app, tap Options and toggle Panorama to ON. Hold the camera out horizontally, pointing at the left-most area you want to capture in a panorama. Slowly move the camera left-to-right, keeping the area you want to capture within the guide line strip and the phone will do the rest. This option WON’T give you a 360-degree panorama, for which there are numerous apps in the app store.

Photostream, which came with iOS 5, enabled a user to access their 1,000 most recent photos on any integrated iOS device. An improvement could have journalistic uses: photos in Photostream can be shared with third parties, so it’ll now be possible for a journalist to upload a photo and get it to their newsroom colleagues almost instantly, even avoiding the need for it to be emailed.

Finally, there are a number of changes to Safari, Apple’s pre-installed browser. (Other browsers are available, such as Opera which claims to use less data, while SkyFire enables flash-based videos to be viewed). In iOS 6, there’ll be an offline reading list, letting you read articles without internet connectivity. And if you’ve really bought into Apple you’ll now be able to start reading a page on your MacBook, instantly open it on your iPhone while on the train and later pick up where you left off on your iPad - without losing your place (although you may have lost several Apple devices in the process).

iOS 6 and the new iPhone are clearly major advances for Apple. What’s less clear immediately is whether Apple has done enough to keep its nose ahead of the smartphone pack snapping at its heels. In 2007 the original iPhone changed the landscape of the phone market (as shown in this neat image). Now there’s a sense that Apple is catching up with other smartphones which already had larger screens, faster connectivity etc. While it’s undeniably an object of huge desire and expense, the feeling remains that this iteration of the iPhone moves smartphones forward by a step rather than a leap.

Perhaps that will come with the iPhone 6 - which you can bet Apple is already working on.

But it looks like most of this techy stuff will bypass the average consumer. When a US television show filmed reactions in the street to the new iPhone 5, people said they were impressed by its new size, brighter colours and slimmer build. Only later were they told that the phone they were looking at was the current iPhone, not the new one. My favourite is the man who brings out his own iPhone and compares it unfavourably with the ‘new’ one in his other hand.


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