Many of you will be finally getting to grips with Apple’s iOS5 over the weekend, we’ve been playing with the iOS all weekend and for us iOS5 is a more exciting feature filled update than any that has come before, there are plenty of long overdue features that will propel the iPhone and iPad to even greater success.
It’s not a revolution, but of the 200 new improvements you will be treated to an experience that no other mobile OS can even come close to. Some of the notable inclusions include, Wi-Fi synching, deeper twitter integrations, image editing on photos, an all-new notification system, iMessenger, Find My Phone, Cards, Newstand, Siri, and loads of new clever additions.
Siri, unfortunately, is only available for the the iPhone 4S. But if you do purchase the iPhone 4S it will be the most important new feature on your phone. It builds upon the rather dyer Voice control, but it’s more akin voice control AI, which understands what you’re are saying.
When it works, it’s proper Star Trek stuff. If you say “remind me to call home” Siri will respond by setting up a reminder in your calendar. If you ask Siri to read a new message, if you happen to be driving or have your hands tied doing something else, it will read the message to you and you can respond via voice – all hands free with a scary level of accuracy.
It’s not perfect, but when it works it’s mind blowing. Siri tries to answer any question to it best of its ability. It’s still in beta mode and will becoming in more languages soon.
Instead of the rather unsightly pop-up notifications, the new Notifications centre combines messages, missed calls, app updates, a stock ticker and weather updates all housed in one simple and convenient place.
With a simple swipe of the finger from the top of the screen you are greeted with the notification centre. All notifications are shown on the lock screen, with a horizontal swipe you will be taken straight to the related feature.
There’s no doubt that Apple has taken the notification centre straight from its arch enemy Android. Over the various iterations of iOS notifications has gone largely unchanged so iOS users will no doubt find the new notification centre a blessing.
iOS 5 has seen some great additions to the camera, making it more akin to a traditional point-and-shoot camera. You get a shortcut on the lock screen now, which will now launch the camera immediately.
A simple double-tap of the homescreen button brings up basic music controls and now a camera button in the right side of the lock screen. One press and you straight into shoot mode and you can now use the volume controls to snap a shot.
Inside the camera you’ll get grid lines, pinch to zoom (in addition to a slider bar at the bottom of the screen), autofocus, and the ability to change the exposure.
After you’ve taken a photo you can edit your shots with a myriad of different effects; crop, rotate, red-eye reduction, and single-tap colour correction.
Apple is a bit late to the photo-editing party, while we like the basic editing features, we doubt it will mean the demise of third-party apps like Photoshop Express.
You can subscribe to new publications through a new channel in the iTunes App store, as you subscribe, your publication will be added to your Newsstand saving you time as you don’t have to go and update it every time something new is published.
There’s no doubt the newsstand won’t be that big of a big deal for iPhone users, but for iPad users it’s going to be a massive success in our eye’s.
Instead of trying to read a sites with strange layouts or that have no mobile sites. Reader will grab the text and reproduce it as a simple to read rss feed.
It will strip out the ads, but leaves the photos and you can now email the entire text of a safari page to a contact in your phone, before you could only send a link in a email or message.
If you’ve struggled to read oddly formatted websites, reader will be a blessing, but for those of you who like to read comments and other content – you may find Reader cuts too much of the experience when reading an article.
Other changes to Safari come in the form of tabbed browsing and you can add web page to a reading list – so you can read it later at your own leisure.
The reading list feature keeps a story on your reading list until you have time to read it, and it can be synced between multiple Safari devices.
Twitter has also been given great prominence in iOS 5 and has now been baked into the iOS from the ground up. You will be able to post photos to the social networks without leaving the image gallery or camera application. It’s not a massive change, but a welcomed addition nonetheless making sharing photos a breeze. You’ll be able to add a location, sync Twitter with your contacts list, and tweet directly from YouTube, Safari, and Maps.
Reminder is a clever addition to the iOS family, you will be able to store multiple to-do list with dates for events and you can add a nifty GPS locations reminder. For example, if you set a reminder to not forget your wallet when you leave the house, the device knows when you have left your current location it will notify you of that reminder.
Browsing through your reminders is easy with a starting page where you can quickly track and search for reminders using a search field. You also have the option to create tasks for more-open-ended reminders that don’t need to be done by a specific time.
The new mail app now comes with a plethora of changes including rich text formatting, improved indent control, flagging messages, address are now draggable between to, cc, and bcc lines, and you can now search within the body of a message.
A reader function on Email would have been a great inclusion, we often get emails that don’t format too well in the iOS email client. But the changes to email will be a godsend for many users.
PC/Mac Free: Finally you can cut the cable
One of the new additions to iOS 5 is the ability to have your iPhone PC/Mac free – meaning that over-the-air updates and wireless synching has now become a reality with iOS 5.
It means that you will no longer need to have the cable attached to upload some new music, videos or apps to your iPhone or iPad. You’ll of course still need the cable to charge the device.
To sync your iOS device to iTunes on your computer, you can then go to Settings > General on your iPhone to select iTunes Wi-Fi Sync. From there you can select Sync Now on your iPhone and your photos, music, and calendars will be backed up in iTunes.
Apple’s iMessage is a shot across the bow of Blackberry and their immensely popular BBM. As with BBM you will be able to exchange an unlimited amount of text messages, photos, and videos with other iOS 5 users for free over Wi-Fi or 3G.
You’ll also get group messaging, an indicator to see if someone is typing to you, delivery and read receipts, secure encryption, and conversation syncing that is pushed to multiple devices.
Find My Friends
Unveiled at the iPhone 4S event, Find My Friend is an iOS5 app that lets you view where your friends and family are located using GPRS. For security reasons you can set a time limit for how long this info is available.
For any parent who wants to know where their loves ones are without have to call them Find My Friends is a welcomed addition to the the iOS family.
Imagaine if a family member is visiting you, and you want to know where they are. You wouldn’t want to call them if they’re driving, but with this feature you can get an idea where they are. For specific situations Find My Friends will be a very useful app.
Card was also unveiled at the iPhone 4S event and is available from the iTunes App store now. Cards is a nifty app that lets you design cards on your iOS device.
Then Apple will print them on paper and will send it to your chosen recipient. It’s a bit of gimmick, and there’s no reason why you’d choose to use their service rather than print the card yourself. But as it goes – it’s nice, clever and a lovely way to share family photos and memories with friends and family
The service comes with a price, though; you’ll pay $2.99 to send a card within the U.S. and $4.99 to send a card anywhere in the world.
And the rest
Other updates include new multitasking gestures for the iPad, hourly weather forecasts, a split keyboard for the iPad, a new iPad music app, an iTunes ringtone store, AirPlay mirroring for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, Emoji emoticons, and custom vibration patterns.
From the looks of it iOS 5 really is as impressive update, it will take you a while to find your feet as there are so many hidden changes and you’ll probably be finding new and cool features in the weeks to come. From the weekend we’ve spent with it we have to say it’s the best mobile operating system money can buy.
Improvements seen in Mail, Siri, over-the-air synching, iMessage, new Twitter features, much needed camera improvements all make a system that just works effortlessly with little stress or fuss.
Some of the new app like Cards, Find My Friend and others might not be ground breaking, but will find a home for many users.
As a free upgrade that offers so much it’s a no-brainer. iOS 5 will cement Apple dominance in the ever-changing smartphone world and it’s worth upgrading for every iPhone users. Once you’ve used it you would never go back and that’s why it’s so good.