Despite years of innovation, development and inventive evolution, mismatches continue between the functionality that business users desire and the product features manufacturers deliver. In other words, although manufacturers have had years to develop products that do the things businesses want, many products still fail to fulfill all commercial needs.
Apple iPhones and iPads, while incredibly capable devices, still don't function perfectly or perform all the tasks businesses wish. Fortunately, with the announcement of new iOS 6 features, the gap is narrowing.
Seemingly, everyone's been there. You're caught in a meeting, rushing between appointments, or conversing with another when a call comes in. Wouldn't it be nice, with a simple and innocuous gesture or two, to let the caller know you're tied up (without overly offending the colleague or party with whom you're currently meeting)?
iOS 6 users will be able to do so using their iPhones. When declining an incoming call in iOS 6, users can instantly reply with a text message or at least set a callback reminder. While users can set a do-not-disturb-mode, many professionals will find the ability to send a quick note (such as "I'll call you later" or "I'm on my way") or a custom message more than handy. The ability to set custom quick reply messages ("In a meeting, will call right back") should help harried users ensure they're not infuriating their boss or an important client by not answering a call the moment it comes in. Such quick text replies enable fast response, improve communication, and ultimately lower stress.
Email has become a mission critical tool. The only problem is it's becoming tougher for many business professionals to locate critical emails within volumes of less important messages. This is especially important when they are on the go, working only with the assistance of mobile devices. iOS 6 introduces VIP smart mailbox functionality enabling users to create VIP inboxes that ensure critically earmarked messages are directed to a single, easy-to-view location.
Over time I've tested a combination of strategies to consolidate and synchronize bookmarks between all the devices I use for business. All methods suffered drawbacks making it difficult to maintain an updated list of trouble ticket, cloud-based application, Web and other addresses. Never did I hold out hope for starting a session on one computer only to pick up where I left off when changing devices (as often happens when switching from a mobile phone to a tablet computer to a laptop or desktop).
Apple is addressing browser session synchronization in iOS 6 with the introduction of iCloud Tabs. Now professionals such as myself who constantly juggle numerous devices will find they can begin browsing the Web on one device using Safari, switch to another device running Safari, and continue reading the Web page right where they left off on the other device.
This is a subtle innovation but one that will make quite a difference. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to re-locate a link and find the spot where I stopped reading on another device (when reviewing licensing requirements, reading technical specifications, reviewing a troubleshooting piece, etc.). With iOS 6, the issue is eliminated.
But you may need new hardware...
While iOS 6 continues to make improvements, the OS isn't going to prove a panacea. Issues will remain. For starters, VIP mail will only be available to users of iPhone 4 or later handsets and iPad 2 and later tablet users. The new iOS itself will only prove compatible on iPhone 3GS and later iPhones, 4th generation iPod Touches, and iPad 2 and newer tablets. Professional users still wielding the original iPad, such as myself, will find themselves out of luck and be forced to upgrade hardware in order to benefit from these and other iOS 6 innovations.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.