I opened Timehop this morning and my face was probably in shock as I looked upon the tweets of excitement, frustration, desperation, and excitement one last time. You see, it was on an early, chilly but sunny Tuesday morning that I decided to skip class, take a chance on online in-stock numbers, and wait in line in front of Philadelphia's Walnut Street Apple Store for an iPhone 6 Plus. It was an unforgettable day for me for many reasons, but the foremost reason being that it changed the way I looked at consumer technology and to what standards I hold new technology. It was my first Apple product and I had no idea what I was getting into. After swearing I'd never own an Apple product ever, I finally did it that day. I think it's great to step back and reflect on how tiny events change your personality and outlook on certain things, even minuscule and insignificant things like smartphones. That's what this is.
First things first, though, how's it held up?
Pretty well, actually. The front of my 6 Plus is covered with Otterbox's Alpha Glass Privacy screen protector. The tempered glass protector has tiny fractures here and there, plus a ton of unsightly scratches, but otherwise it's doing its job; keeping those things off of the screen. As of this writing, the rest of the phone is snugly inside Apple's Product RED Silicone Case. As the device is incredibly thin and feels delicate, I've resisted the many temptations to carry it case-less. As such, the device looks like it did on this day one year ago; completely flawless and devoid of any blemishes. For a device that's been in my pocket for the better part of most of the last 365 days, I'd say that's rather impressive.
The battery life has varied substantially, but that's to be expected. However, of the last 365 days, I'd say on about 360 of them did I never concern myself over whether I'd reach my charger before my phone died. I don't think I've experienced a day when my phone threatened to die before eight hours of use. Usually I experienced 15-20 hours of mixed use on one charge. Recharging every night isn't usually an issue for me so I don't need a phone that can last two days on a single charge. I don't carry a charger with me nor do I keep one in my car. At first, I did this out of arrogance. But now I do this because I'm that confident my iPhone's battery won't fail me when I need it. So far, it hasn't.
And the software?
iOS is iOS, and that means different things for different people. For many people, iOS represents the pinnacle of the mobile software space. It is the single-best combination of quality software, applications, content, and services running almost seamlessly together, providing the best user experience one can ask for on mobile. Detractors say iOS is Apple's way of dictating its will on users, telling them what they can and can't (really, shouldn't) do on a mobile device and that iOS holds the industry back.
I think it's a bit of both. iOS is certainly unparalleled in its software offerings, both first- and third-party apps. Apple takes great care to make sure its first-party apps are feature-rich and work as they should. Further updates flesh out their capabilities and as capabilities grow, so do inter-application connections.
In fact, iOS's first-party apps' capabilities with respect to inter-app communication is one of the most impressive things about iOS. For instance, if I add a location to a calendar appointment, iOS will alert me as to when I should leave my present location in order to make the next one on time. It uses Apple Maps to calculate my estimated arrival time based on distance and traffic reports. This proactive approach to notifications is rather new to mobile and it is one step in making our devices seem more intelligent.
iOS 9 has taken these proactive notifications to new levels. It has the ability to learn your habits and provide to you useful information based on your routines. I visit the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, either at around 10AM or 8PM. When I sit in my car and sync my phone to it (an automatic process), iOS will tell me how long it'll take to get to my gym. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings when I get into my car to go to work, iOS will tell me how long to get there as well. It's really very incredible.
Apple Music has changed the way I sync songs between devices. Apple Music takes what I love about Spotify and adds the music that I could never find on Spotify to the mix. The end result has me blissfully happy. The 500-600 songs that I have mp3 files for but have no Spotify equivalent for, can be added alongside my entire Spotify-turned-Apple Music playlist and live together in harmony. I now finally have a car that has the ability to sync with a phone through Bluetooth so I seldom listen to the radio anymore; I'm in paradise driving with my own personal playlist on full volume thanks to Apple Music.
There's a lot to like about iOS. It has all the apps I didn't even know I wanted. I'm a frequent Snapchatter now and I love it. I use a bunch of financial apps like Mint, American Express, Wells Fargo, Chase, Pennies, Simple, and so on. Temple University has its own iOS app, as does Blackboard Learn for assignments. MyFitnessPal, Apple's Health and Activity apps form a neat suite of fitness apps that track my 3 miles of walking at work, my hour-long workouts, and 2-hour long tennis sessions without missing a beat. And, of course, I have my social suite of apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Squarespace, Hangouts, Reddit, etc. It's safe to say I'm in a happy place with regards to my mobile "needs" (read: "wants") right now.
That isn't to say iOS is perfect. Those who say Apple's obsession with control is prevalent in iOS have plenty of evidence to back it up. My 6 Plus has NFC, but I can only use it for Apple Pay with Apple Pay-enabled readers. I have no file system access on my iPhone, meaning that I left behind the days of uploading a file for an assignment on-the-go or downloading an mp3 file straight to my phone a year ago. Share options, while plentiful, can be limiting too. Notifications are phenomenal, but cause the entire screen to illuminate, which can be a battery drain.
So, a year later...
I almost want to call my 6 Plus a perfect device, but I know that in this world of many smartphone manufacturers and operating systems, there really is no one "perfect device." But I do feel like my 6 Plus is the perfect phone for me. In the last year, my life has changed a lot. I'm nearing the end of college and thinking about post-Bachelors Degree life. My new job requires professionalism and is one in which communication is critical, as is being able to come up with solutions on the fly. I'm far more socially and physically active nowadays compared to myself on this day a year ago. I'm a Mac owner now as well and I feel the synergy between OS X and iOS is terrific. Together, they feel like the most personal pieces of technology I've ever owned.
I feel like my iPhone has better adjusted to the changes that have happened in my life. I never feel like I'm going out of my way to accommodate the things that I can and can't do on my phone, and that's the way I feel I should be. The moment I have to start adjusting my life so that I can have the phone I want, that'll be the time to look at other options. But, a year later, I'm very happy and really couldn't ask for much more.