At long last, iOS 5 has been unveiled – and it looks like it’s well worth the wait.
The new OS comes with 200 new and noteworthy features, including a brand-spanking-new Notification Center, wireless updates, and the iMessage application.
Here’s the skinny on iOS 5 for you fine folks:
- The new Notification Center is at once more powerful and less intrusive than the old system. The Center can easily be accessed by swiping the top of the screen or from the lock screen as well, and once it’s open the user will be able to view current notifications from all applications. While in the middle of an activity, a notification will appear up at the top of the screen – a far cry from the old system, where notifications appeared at the center of the screen, pausing the activity.
- Secondly, and very much in keeping with Apple’s focus on wireless solutions, iOS 5 is being touted as being “PC-free”. Users can use devices without needing to sync them first to a Mac or PC by USB and syncing with iTunes. Delta software updates, which let users download only what’s new, can also be downloaded over the air. Other activities like calendar creation and deletion can now be performed within iOS and without needing connection to a computer.
- iMessage is an iOS-specific messaging service that allows users of iOS devices to send each other photos, contacts, text messages and videos over either 3G or Wi-Fi. Think of this as Apple’s answer to RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.
- iOS 5 also offers users the ability to download content automatically in the background, such as new magazine issues and so on. These publications can be accessed in a new section, the “Newsstand”, that will be located on the iOS 5 home screen.
- iOS 5′s new Reminders feature allows for storage of lists of important reminders, which can be associated with dates and locations and can sync with iCal and across devices too.
- The Mobile Safari browser for iOS 5 is (finally) going to feature tabbed browsing. Mobile Safari will also get a Safari Reader feature, which allows users to save only key web content minus things like extra links or advertisements. A Reading List feature will let users save this content for future access, or even access it on other devices.
- iOS 5 also boasts new camera features, such as shortcuts on the iPhone’s lock screen, the ability to use the volume-up button to take a picture when in the Camera application, and the ability to rotate, crop, reduce red-eye, and perform other quick-editing moves right on the device.
- Those struggling with the iPad’s old on-screen keyboard might have an easier time entering text with a new variant that allows users to drag the keyboard into two halves. This is meant to ease text input when the iPad is in portrait orientation.
- Apple didn’t overlook Mail. The new version will come with the ability to flag unread messages, features like rich-text formatting, and the ability to search for entire messages.
That list is far from exhaustive, as there’s plenty more that deserves coverage or at least mention. But since iOS 5 won’t be available until this fall, we’ve got until then to get you up to speed on what’s on the way. Stay stuck!