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Banned reviewer: iPhone 5 just works

John Davidson, AFR | Sept. 25, 2012
The folks at Apple really do believe in the Apple mantra, “It just works.”

The folks at Apple really do believe in the Apple mantra, "It just works."

They believe in it so fiercely, they'll punish journalists who suggest that Apple products don't always just work, as I did in several reviews of the previous iPhone. When the iPhone 4S came out last year, I tested its voice response system Siri, and published some of Siri's more absurd misinterpretations of my Australian accent. Apple officials accused me of fabricating the reviews because there was just no way that Siri, which just works, would make absurd responses like that.

For that and for other blasphemies against the Apple mantra - I once wrote about jailbreaking an iPad, which no one in their right mind would do, given the way iPads just work - I'm now on Apple's unofficial but very real blacklist: I don't get devices to review, and I don't get invited to Apple briefings. If you were wondering why there were no reviews of the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro in The Australian Financial Review, that's why. Apple officials told me I didn't subscribe to the Apple mantra sufficiently to participate in the review program.

With the iPhone 5, I now see that Apple was right to punish me like that. Apple's products do just work, and I was out of line to question it. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Take the new Maps feature in the iPhone 5, for instance. In the new version of the iPhone software, Apple has replaced Google Maps with its own app, Maps. It's the most significant new software feature in the iPhone 5, and it just works.

Forget the absurd renderings Maps makes when you put it in 3D "flyover" mode that has been on the pointy end of so much hilarity these past few days. The iPhone 5-owning public and the iPhone 5 reviewers must simply be making those renderings up. Buildings and bridges looking like they've been melted by a giant hair dryer? Giant mounds of earth appearing in suburban streets? No way! Maps just works.

Forget, too, the sub-optimal route guidance in Maps that at times is so sub-optimal as to be potentially disastrous. (Asking for guidance to Sydney International Airport will take you to the domestic terminal, for instance.) Who cares about route guidance? Maps just works.

Of course, you have to change the emphasis a little to pull that off. It just works.

And it does just work. Only just, perhaps, but it works enough to show that Maps will indeed be a terrific feature of the iPhone 5 in months and years to come.


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