Apple, sliced up: iOS 5 irregularities in iPad and iPhone

Now you see them, now you don't. InfoWorld's guide tells you which iOS 5 features work where

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Calendar views. If you have an iPad, you can peruse your calendar as a list or in day, week, month, or year view. On an iPhone or iPod Touch, there is no year view, likely due to the small screen of these devices. There is a week view, but it's hidden: rotate your iPhone or iPod Touch to horizontal orientation to have iOS automatically display it. I'd rather have an explicit way to view my schedule by the week and be able to keep my list, day, or month view when I rotate my iPhone or iPod Touch.

Calculator, weather, and stocks widgets. iPhones and iPod Touches come with these, but iPads don't. That's been true from the very first iPad, but it's more noticeable in iOS 5. The new Notification Center capability, which lets you swipe down a tray of recent alerts, displays an iconic summary of the weather, as well as any active stocks, at the top -- a very handy way to quickly check these items. But because they're not on the iPad, the Notification Center tray doesn't have them. As I tend to switch between my iPad and iPhone throughout the day, it bugs me that sometimes I can see these at a glance (on the most constrained display, ironically) and sometimes I cannot. I have third-party apps for these purproses, but the inconsistency still bugs me.

Differences that make sense. Some iOS differences are understandable across devices, due the their dependency on specific device capabilities and their lack of applicability to other apps:

  • Available only for the iPhone 4 and 4S, via the Settings app's Accessibility settings in the General pane, the LED Flash for Alerts settings does what it says: flashes the rear camera's LED when a phone call or other alert comes in. It's handy if you put your iPhone face down on a desk during a meeting, for example, rather than in your pocket. The iPhone 3G S, iPad, and iPod Touch have no LED flash, so it makes sense they don't have this feature.
  • Double-tapping the Home button when your iOS device is locked now adds a camera button to take pictures while the device is locked -- but, as is logical, only on the iPad 2, fourth-generation iPod Touch, and iPhones, which all have cameras.
  • SMS messaging is available only from an iPhone, as that service comes from your cellular carrier as part of the cell phone service. iOS 5 has put the SMS app, Messaging, onto the other devices. But on those devices it uses Apple's own free iMessage service, which works only with other iOS 5 devices, much as the popular BlackBerry Messenger service works only among BlackBerrys. On an iPhone, you can choose to use SMS or iMessage for iPhone recipients, whereas Messages on the other devices gives you no such choice (it's all via iMessage).
  • The Camera app provides an HDR (high dynamic range) option for photos only on the iPhone 4 and 4S; the cameras and video processors in iPhone 3G S, fourth-generation iPod Touch, and iPad 2 just aren't good enough to take such images, so they don't have that option.

Apple, don't be so narrow in the utility you see for your features. It makes sense to deploy more of them across all your devices. How about taking care of that in iOS 5.1?

This article, "Apple, sliced up: iOS 5 irregularities in iPad and iPhone," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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