iOS 5 Beta – Should you install it? The good, the bad, and the ugly

New iPhone welcome/setup screen

With all the excitement surrounding the Apple announcement on Monday, it seems many people I know have taken the plunge and put the new iOS 5 beta onto their primary phones. But there is a cost for installing pre-release software. If you’re still on the fence about it, this post should help you decide whether you want to sell your soul to that unknown developer you met on the internets so he can add your device, or not.

The Good

Notice the new syncing icon, and that you can unlock while syncing.

There are definite improvements in this new version of the iOS. My current favorite is the notification center. On first install, I couldn’t get this to come up at all so I had to wipe and reinstall. Once I actually got the notification center to work, it proved to be very useful. I can see why some would jailbreak their iPhone for this. I love seeing weather right along with my latest twitter notices and lots of email SPAM. Who doesn’t love SPAM?

My second most favorite feature is the ability to quickly get to the camera and snap a pic with the volume + button. I’m sure the developers at Tap Tap Tap feel slightly frustrated, but I think it was a good move for everyone and hopefully they’ll be able to utilize this new change in their camera+ app. Being able to get to the camera fast is really what makes or breaks a quick event. Sometimes a car goes by or a cute puppy does something you can only capture in a moments notice. That’s where this feature really shines.

The third great feature that is working flawlessly for me is the iTunes syncing. I think this is a huge value-added. You buy a song on your iPad or iMac and instantly it’s also on your phone. I had great success trying this out with both an app and music, and this feature gets me VERY excited about no longer needing to sync to my computer.

There’s loads of other great tweaks and improvements. I’m a big fan of the new UI switches. I think they look great, but not necessarily everywhere on the OS. iMessages is very cool, albeit a little mystifying. Also new is textexpander, only Apple calls it “keyboard shortcuts.” These are handy if, like me, you like to abbreviate “tomorrow” with “tom.” but the iPhone likes to correct it to “Tom.” You can now add in all the texting shortcuts you want and still come across as an intelligible human being. The twitter integration is nice, but by now many of us already have a system that we’re used to and so for me it’s nice, but not life-changing.

The Bad

Now for the bad news. One big bummer for me is that Wireless syncing is turned off in this first beta. I was really excited to try this out, and if you were too, you might want to hold off on this release. Another big bummer for me is that push google mail is no longer working. It could just be my setup, but it was fine before the upgrade. As I mentioned above, I had to reinstall iOS 5 just to get the notification center to show up. And on the first botched install, I couldn’t multitask either. Obviously there’s a few kinks to work out. But these are mere disappointments. What follows is what I will refer to as deal-breakers (maybe push email is a deal breaker for you).

The Ugly

The biggest reason I’d hold off on upgrading is that many apps do not work. Gowalla would not work until I upgraded to the latest version, Pulse news doesn’t load, BibleXpress won’t start, Starbucks’ app is a non-starter, Alien Blue doesn’t work 100%…there’s quite a few. But some apps work fine. It’s hard to say whether your beloved app will work or not. I’ve also seen some friend report very bad battery draining with this upgrade, and a big downfall of going up is, you can’t go back down. Apple says that this upgrade is irreversible.

Apple

If I find any other big issues, I’ll add them below. I’m sure many of these developers are already working to get their apps updated and working. It’s sad to see the update break so many apps, but progress isn’t easy. If you do decide to upgrade, I hope all goes well for you and if you have a different experience than me, feel free to say so in the comments.

Update 6/10
I have also noticed a faster draining of my battery recently, especially as it drops below 50% it seems to accelerate.

Update 6/13
Today my push notifications started working again with no prompting for me. Maybe it was Google? I also want to add that my battery has been draining extremely fast as of late, concurrent with other stories I’ve heard. You’ve been warned.