Sign up or login to join the discussions! Stay logged in Sign up to comment and more Sign up Tech — Tempting fate: Sep 19, 4: Andrew Cunningham reader comments Share this story One of the iOS platform's advantages over its competitors is that official software updates are not just provided to older devices, but provided in a timely manner on a single date.
It gives older phones and tablets a nice longevity boost, and allows Apple to continue selling older hardware that works and acts much like its newer counterparts. The downside of that approach is that only Apple gets to decide if your hardware is worthy of an update.
This can cause two problems: The second is that an update can be pushed out to devices that aren't ready to handle it, as happened when the iPhone 3G received the iOS 4. That update wasn't just missing features compared to the version of iOS 4. Does iOS 6 make the iPhone 3GS an unusable mess, or can people with older phones perform the update without reservations?
What don't you get? As the oldest supported device, the 3GS misses out on the largest number of features: These missing features generally don't change the operation of the phone—they're simply not present. One app that does change is Maps: There's also a button in the lower-left corner of the screen that you can tap to bring up all the steps in your route.
On the 3GS, getting directions from your current location brings up a list of driving directions that you can swipe through to see where you're going—swiping from the left brings up the next step, and swiping from the right brings up the previous one.
There's also no button to tap to bring up all of the steps at once, which seems like an odd omission to me. If you have a newer phone and would like to see how this works, you get the same interface if you use anything other than "current location" as your starting point when getting directions.
The iPhone 3GS gets the new Maps app, but without the turn-by-turn navigation feature. Otherwise, Maps on the 3GS brings all of the changes it features on newer phones, including Yelp reviews, the revamped interface, and the lack of integrated public transit directions. What do you get, and how fast is it? Aside from the growing list of features restricted only to newer phones, the iPhone 3GS actually gets most of the new OS's tweaks and refinements—iOS 4 set expectations low on the iPhone 3G by excluding some of that version's best improvements, so it's nice to see the older handset so well-supported in this case.
With the exception of the Siri and Maps sections, just about everything mentioned in our main iOS 6 review applies to the 3GS, including Passbook support, Facebook integration, shared Photo Streams, revamped sharing menus, Do Not Disturb, iCloud Tabs in Safari, the new Find My iPhone tweaks, the Camera app's exposure lock, the new Mail features, and the new call features, among others.
The new features also don't slow the phone down appreciably. To give you some idea of performance relative to iOS 5. These numbers measure the number of seconds starting from when the app icon is tapped and ending when it becomes usable: