Playing with iOS5, Lion and iCloud

Upgraded both my iPhone and my iPad2 to iOS5 yesterday, and my MacBook Pro to Lion. Aside from the infuriating reverse-direction scrolling in Lion (push up to go down and vice-versa — I’m too hardwired), I have to admit that I like the whole experience. I’m assuming that I’ll have to await more iOS apps’ use of the notification system –the only thing appearing there so far with mine is Apple Mail– but it’s a far cry better than the pop-up alerts from before. (Tap tap tap tap –what was that? Oh, dammit — tap tap tap….)

Not fond of the app switching yet in iOS5, although it’s still better than iOS4: use all the fingers of your hand to swipe the app “off” one side or the other. It reminds me of a poor man’s webOS card system, the biggest differences being that you don’t actually flip between all the cards in a nice visual manner, and there’s no stacking of related/conjoined cards in a deck (e.g., the PDF viewer that you called up from the email app). Better than Android Gingerbread’s standard icon-based view, but nowhere near as nice as Honeycomb’s thumbnail views. Plus, I can’t seem to do much in the background yet, like how in Android I can download torrents, suck down podcast files, run installs, and put almost any app in the background and it still carries on, pushing out a notification when its job is done.

Still wrapping my head around the tacky faux-leather-with-stitching interface of some of the apps. Really, Apple? You don’t think that’s a wee bit tacky? Like, 6 years ago, tacky?

I haven’t played with the magazine/press shelf or the iBooks yet, since I already use platform-agnostic Zinio and Amazon for that. I don’t want to be tied into only one hardware platform.

iCloud has a streamlined web interface of mail that’s nice and clean, very Apple-like and an improvement over the last time I used Apple dotMac Mail some 3 years ago. The calendar and contacts web apps look very much like the iPad versions, and I must admit that I don’t have Pages, Keynote or Numbers on my iPad yet, so the documents online sync is rather useless for me at the moment. (Again, I like the platform-agnostic Google Apps that allows other programs, such as Docs to Go, to synchronize with it.)

One inevitable conclusion: you really have to want to invest in this ecosystem if you want to make the most of it. Unless you’re running a Mac full time on the desktop (me, I use Linux 80% of the time), have purchased and used mostly iWork (which isn’t available outside a Mac), and only use iOS devices (me, I use Android phones and tablets most of the time, with an occasional foray into my iPhone, iPad2 or HP webOS TouchPad), you’re not going to get the full benefit of this holy Apple Trinity of iOS5, Lion and iCloud.

More thoughts later as I dive in.

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