iOS 5 full review - Page 4

Now tweet this

Speaking of third-party software, it might seem at first blush that Apple’s aiming at the horde of Twitter clients by bringing built-in integration with the social-networking service to iOS 5. But relax: it’s not going to do away with your Twitter client. In fact, iOS 5’s Twitter integration provides a nice complement to the Twitter client of your choice, as a glass of wine to well-prepared meal.

To configure your Twitter account, you just visit the new Twitter section of Settings, and enter your login credentials; you can set up multiple accounts, if you so need. In a tie-in with Twitter itself, you can also install the company’s own iOS client directly from settings by tapping an Install button.

For the most part, iOS 5’s use of Twitter is relegated to posting. For example, you can upload a photo from Camera or Photos, along with a short message, by tapping the Share icon and then the Tweet button. In Safari and YouTube, you can tweet links; in Maps you can share a location via Twitter. Apple’s even provided a Twitter-friendly version of iOS’s software keyboard, making commonly-used Twitter symbols like @ and # easy to access.

Every time you compose a tweet, you can specify whether or not you want to add location data to it. However, Apple’s realized that many of us aren’t keen on sharing exactly where we are right now to our social networking information, so the information is only general. For example, posting a tweet from my house with location data only reveals that I’m in my hometown of Somerville, MA, as opposed to my address or exact coordinates. You’ll also need to enable location information in your profile on Twitter’s website first, or the location data won’t be attached.

Apple’s also tried to provide more fine-grained controls on what Twitter can and can’t have access to. For example, you can disable Twitter access for any app—it won’t make the Tweet button go away, but if you tap that button, a dialog box will pop up, informing you that it’s not available.

In addition, under each Twitter account, you’ll find a slider labeled Tweet Location, under which, Apple helpfully writes, “You can include your approximate location on individual tweets.” Sounds all well and good, but in my testing, this slider does absolutely nothing. Regardless of whether it’s on or off, no location is automatically added to my tweet, and in either case, I can still manually associate a location with my tweet by tapping the Add Location button.

However, there’s an exception to that—Maps. If I tap share location, my current location is appended to the tweet, along with a Google Maps link to whatever location I’m sharing. Again, this happens regardless of that toggle switch’s setting.

Those aren’t the only bugs I ran into while trying to use Apple’s Twitter integration. When composing a tweet in the pop-up dialog box, the system is supposed to auto-complete usernames. So, for example, should I want to address our fearless leader by his username, @jsnell, I would start typing “@js” and it would hopefully show me his name in the list, so I could tap it instead of typing the rest.

Unfortunately, there seem to be a handful of users who names just won’t autocomplete—including our aforementioned editorial director. (It’s not just me, either—at least two of my colleagues verified they had problems with the exact same usernames, while others reported problems with auto-completing other usernames.)

Then there’s the Update Contacts functionality in Settings -> Twitter, which is supposed to not only let you add your friends’ Twitter usernames to their records in Contacts, but also add pictures for them. In order for this to work, though, your existing Contact record for them needs to contain the same email address that they use to log in to Twitter. If you don’t want to be findable in this method, you can flip the “Find Me by Email” slider to Off on a per-account basis in Settings -> Twitter.

However, even when I tried to have iOS 5 update my contacts, I routinely had it tell me that 0 contacts were updated, even when I knew for sure that I had all the data I needed. One of my colleagues did get this to work on a phone, but the majority that I polled saw the same message about no contacts being updated.

Apple also says that you’re supposed to be able to add your contact’s Twitter usernames to their entries in your address book, but not only did this not happen with the Update Contacts feature, neither my iPad nor my iPhone would even let me manually add a field for Twitter username—that option simply did not exist. The same was true for several of my colleagues, though the same one who got the contact updating feature to work did have these fields in his iOS address book.

For what it’s worth, making Twitter pervasive throughout the OS and allowing developers to hook into it is a great idea. Being able to snap a picture or video and upload it right there, without having to jump to your Twitter client, is handy and saves taps. And because iOS’s integration is limited to posting, not reading your Twitter feed, there’s plenty of space for third-party clients to survive.

All the news that’s fit to download

Before the iPad’s release, many suggested that such a device could save publishers by finally giving them a digital platform that people want to read on. While it hasn’t been quite the groundswell that some anticipated, Apple has worked to provide a niche for periodicals and newspapers. However, the company’s subscription rules have irked many publications.

Newsstand is an attempt to sweeten the pot, the carrot to the subscription rules’ stick. It appears on the Home screen as a set of wooden shelves reminiscent of iBooks’s interface. Tapping on it expands Newsstand like a folder, displaying the latest issues of your periodicals, complete with an updated cover image. The issues can even be downloaded in the background so that when you wake up in the morning the freshest version of your publication is already waiting for you—no need to even launch an app until you’re ready to read. Newsstand’s icon will display a badge showing the number of new issues waiting; once you tap into the folder, new issues will be marked with a label.

Whether Newsstand will be successful at luring in publishers is hard to say. As of this writing, Newsstand-enabled apps were just beginning to become available and the section of the App Store that Apple has designated for those publications—and which you can access directly from the Newsstand folder—had not yet been launched. But over time, more and more publications have begun complying with Apple’s subscription rules, so it will be more surprising if they decide not to take advantage of Newsstand’s features.

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