Review of the iPhone 6s

It has officially been over a week since the first iPhone’s were released to the public, and I was in need of a new phone so I got my hands on one for myself the day after its release. Moving from a 4s to a 6s I had my reservations, but overall I’m pretty happy with the move and have to say that it really has been worth it. When I asked a lot of people about the size of their iPhone 6’s or 6+’s I was told again and again that after just a few hours with the bigger screen you would get used to it and maybe even wonder how you ever had such a small phone. However, I must be in a minority because I am still going to be hoping for that elusive 4 or 5 sized phone to come out with the internals of a 6s. Until then though I’ll continue to love nearly everything about the new 6s. I opted for the 128GB option so that I can have all my music on the phone without using iTunes match or Apple Music, but for most I think the 64GB would really work fine. In this article I’ll talk a bit about the newest features and draws of the iPhone 6s from a self proclaimed “intermediate user”, I’ll also talk a bit about who might want to upgrade and for whom it may not be worth it.

“Hey Siri”

As someone who almost always has their headphones in I thought that the Hey Siri function wouldn’t be too big of a deal for me. If you aren’t familiar “Hey Siri” is a feature that when turned on uses a coprocessor to always run your microphone waiting for you to say the words “Hey Siri”. In actuality the microphone doesn’t always pick up your voice, but it does save you from grabbing your phone or using your hands at all to start and end a task like reading a message or setting an alarm.

So far I can’t say that it’s my favorite feature, but it certainly has its uses. As somebody who loses their phone in their bedroom or in a couch it is a great feature to be able to activate in order to find my phone. This isn’t the most obvious use, but it isn’t a bad one. As Siri hopefully becomes more and more useful this function will become more useful, but it has already made me more productive as I use Siri much more than I did with my 4s already.

iPhone6s-Hand-SafariQuickAction-PR-PRINT-p1a17enjtsib5c6kg5313i6nnc_opt3D Touch

The big feature that had a lot of the hold outs willing to upgrade during this cycle was the 3D Touch feature, originally called force touch on the Macbook and Apple Watch. At the moment I’m honestly really not too sold on it to be honest. It’s really only been out for a short time now so I really think that it is too early to judge how other apps will begin to utilize the new function, but so far it isn’t too amazing. The default setting is far too hard for my liking, but once I changed the 3D touch to a lighter press I went through all my apps to see if the hard press did anything and it was, as expected, really only most of the Apple apps that utilized the feature. Using the harder press to use different parts of apps more quickly I think will take a little tinkering in order to find which quick actions users really want, but there are things that have been working for me out of the box.

Hard pressing and sliding on the sides can move you to a previous app without reaching up to the new “back to last app” button or using the app switcher. This and the ability to peek into links and apps without actually opening them are so far the best uses of the hard press, but hopefully we will see app developers begin to use the new feature in some new and interesting ways. The vibrating feedback that the new haptic engine gives you when hard pressing is also very satisfying, which means I’ll probably keep trying to deep press things in order to find more new uses as the become available.

Touch ID

The Touch ID was one of the features I was pretty excited about, and the new Touch ID technology has exceeded all of my wildest expectations. A lot of apps that I felt could really benefit from some extra security have adopted the touch ID as a sign in option and it works great. As I moved a lot of personal information and a lot of my banking onto my iPhone I was forced to join the club of iPhone users with a passcode. With the new Touch ID I rarely even see my lock screen. The Touch ID has really changed the way I use my phone, I find myself getting in and out of my phone faster and not regretting locking my phone and having to input the passcode over and over.

iPhone6s-RoseGold-BackFront-HeroFish-PR-PRINT-p1a17enjts103927nsob3r1kmu_optNew Camera & Live Photos

WIth the latest update to the phone came one of the biggest improvements to the camera. It sticks out of the back of the phone a little more than I had expected, but the step up from a 8 megapixel camera to a 12 megapixel  camera was pretty big. The camera’s sensor has also been improved upon vastly and it shows. The pictures I’m taking on my phone are light years ahead of the 4s, but you would really expect that to be the case. However, because this is the first time the camera has really been improved on the whole in a long time the difference between the 6s and the 6 is still extremely noticeable. The camera is capturing way more than you would expect from an iPhone and at this point it really makes you debate bringing a real camera places if it is any hassle at all.

Live photos have also been talked about a lot in the weeks coming up to the phone’s release and since, but I’m honestly not too impressed. They are on by default and don’t take up an awful lot of storage like everyone really feared, but they also aren’t too big of a deal yet. They are essentially a gif with sound, but I am sure we will start seeing more of them as social media apps start to host them. It’s a cool idea that you can capture a bit more of a moment than with just a photo, but really you need to have your phone at the ready and to be in the right situation for it to really be worth it.

iPhone6s-4Color-RedFish-PR-PRINT-p1a17enjtsi011okj15ag1es61c81_optAll That Ram

The iPhone 6s was the first iPhone in a while to get a RAM upgrade in quite a while, but they finally have 2GB. For those that aren’t so technologically inclined you might notice that other smartphones often have 4 or 5 GB RAM, but because iOS is much more efficient with its RAM there are only a few times you could really notice a difference. That said the iPhone 6 really should have gotten more RAM. Apple usually doesn’t publish things like the RAM in their phones and so no one can really know if there will be an improvement until the phones come out. The RAM upgrade was the last thing that I needed to convince me to finally upgrade. This should really mean the phone will be able to handle iOS updates for a number of years to come.

iOS9 & the Battery

One of the big improvements that I didn’t really expect was on the battery life. It was said that the 6s’s battery life would be just about the same as the 6’s because of a slightly smaller battery and a more efficient processor. I didn’t know that all that extra battery meant that I’d be able to go through a whole day and more of regular use. As I’ve been traveling my phone doesn’t always make it onto a charger every night for a full charge come morning. However, I often find that I can make it to about the next afternoon after a full day’s use and a night of just being on.

Obviously moving from a two year old phone to a brand new one with brand new batter will do this. And even my iPhone 4s benefitted from the new iOS with a bit of extra battery, but it is still nowhere near the battery life of my previous iPhone when it was new. When buying and researching my phone I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that my phone’s battery wouldn’t last. iPhone’s are one of the most known culprits, but more smartphones these days sacrifice battery life for things like form and function. However, so far I’ve been rather happy with the battery life I’ve gotten from the new iOS9 as well as the new phone.

Conclusion

People have a lot of differing ideals about upgrading your phone at different time, but I must say that despite looking the same the 6 and 6s are pretty different. The 6s is a huge step up from the 6 and probably worth that extra hundred dollars because of that RAM and the 3D touch which should hopefully keep the phone from becoming obsolete too soon. I decided to go for the iPhone Upgrade Program for a variety of reasons, but really I would say it is a great idea for anybody who feels they need to upgrade every year or those that would buy applecare for their phone. If you have a 6 I think you may want to wait to upgrade, as your phone should still be running very well and is really only missing one usable feature, but if you have a 5 or earlier the 6s might be the right phone to upgrade to. Of course if in a few months a smaller iPhone comes out we’ll see how I feel, but so far I’m loving the purchase and won’t be looking back anytime soon.

iphone, apple, music

A Guide To Apple Music

Apple, a name that only a short time ago became synonymous with music released their streaming service just about a month ago now on June 30th. The release came surprisingly as an iOS update instead of with a new iOS altogether. While the company has certainly had its fair share of successes, the cloud and streaming music has certainly been a place where others have been leaps and bounds ahead of the digital music giant. In the past I’ve tried streaming services like spotify and pandora and have always found them limiting in one way or another. The only streaming service I ever found myself coming back to was 8tracks, but this article isn’t about the successes or failures of those services. Apple Music rolled their new streaming music service out to a whole lot of expectations after their purchase of Beats and for the most part I’m happy.

Of course that probably isn’t enough for you to be persuaded so lets go through what makes Apple Music worth using. First of all your iTunes library will not be converted to only U2 songs, as many of us surely were expecting. The price tag is also extremely eye-catching at free for three months. The Apple Music catalogue also has a huge amount of selection and even got Taylor Swift on board, which seems to be a big deal these days. Lots of music, Taylor Swift, and not too much U2 makes it seem like anybody with the capital to invest in it could slap together a streaming service, so what makes this one the one you should use?

For me the first big point was the price tag, as the date where I actually am going to be billed for this comes nearer there will be a bit more pressure on the service, but seeing as I didn’t need to really download anything or pay anything I was bound to try it. As updates and changes come to the service we will see if I fork over my $9.99 in a few months, but for now I will be using the service on both my iPhone and my computer.

Other than simplicity and a free trial though there has to be something to keep people around with, so what are some of the things that apple seems to have done right? They did something new by bringing over beats1 radio and a few other stations that will be playing music without advertisements 24/7 regardless of whether you have a subscription or not. Beats1 has had some great DJs so far and for the first few days was honestly where I stopped as it was easy enough to stumble upon and I ended up hearing a few new songs that I enjoyed. Another great thing that Apple Music can boast is the playlists, they are crafted by “music editors” (quite possibly the best job in the world) and can help you get into a new artist or just find a mood for an activity. On top of hand picked playlists, they also have an algorithm to keep bringing you new music to discover as you use the service more and more often. Many are saying that Apple might just have stumbled upon the latest way to discover and broaden your music tastes, which has been severely lacking with many streaming services.

Apple Music has been a revolutionary step in the right direction then when it comes to streaming music by my own admission, so why wouldn’t you want to stay signed up after the three month period? The ideas are certainly there, but for a company that has always championed intuitive design navigating to all these features takes a while to grasp. It is easy to get lost and miss features with the poorly categorized tabs in the iPhone app, and slightly easier with the iTunes app. The bulk of the features took a few days for me to find and still don’t seem altogether naturally placed, making it very easy to miss opportunities to use them. This seems to mostly be an interface problem so will hopefully be fixed rather soon as we get another update or two.

The second big complaint is a bigger issue I believe, and it is the app’s ability to merge with your library. Half the reason that Apple as a music streaming service seems like a no-brainer is because all of my music is already in iTunes. While streaming playlists or songs there is no way to see if the song is being streamed or played from your library which makes you worry about just how much data you might be using for somebody who is always listening to music. Adding streamable songs to your library or playlists is also extremely difficult to get a grasp on as I find songs duplicating in my library.

All in all the service is worth a try, but it certainly has its bugs that are holding back the potential for a great app. As someone who has always preferred owning copies of my music so that I can take it on the go or add it to my own playlists I am excited to see the changes that will come to this service and I’ll keep trying to get used to it as it changes. With that said however this has certainly put me off storing all of my music in the iCloud as it seems that the system is not up to the par of many similar services.

Have you used the service yet or are you still wary after only being able to listen to that one U2 album on your iPhone for a month? What would make the service a must use for you?