iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

The new iOS 5 is here. It is a "major release", according to Apple. It brings revamped notifications and more than 200 new features for your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. These are the top 10.

Some of these features you already had in your iPhone or iPad in the form of applications. If you used things like WhatsApp, which allows you to message in an extremely easy way with all kinds of phones for free, you already were enjoying something like iMessage (even while iMessage adds important stuff, like device-wide synchronisation). If you had Instapaper, you already had some of the features of the new Safari. Or if you had something like Remember the Milk, you already had reminders.

However, there are features that weren't available before, either because they are completely new or because they are system-wide. And there are real jewels too. Things that may sound stupid, like using the volume + button as a shutter in the Camera app. Or more important stuff, like well thought Notifications and the ability to run your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad without having a PC. Your iDevices are now completely autonomous.

All these features put iOS on par again with some of the features now in Android, Palm or Windows Phone 7. Some of their implementations, surpass those platforms. While none of these are extraordinary, we can't wait to enjoy them.

1. Notifications

The first big feature is notifications. At last, Apple will get rid of the annoying popups that break your flow, replacing it with a new app called Notification Center. It's very similar to Mobile Notifier, the iOS notification app - which makes sense, since Apple hired its developer a while back. It not only includes app notification, but mini-widgets that show live information from apps like Weather and apps.

The notifications extend to the lock screen too, so you can see more stuff right away without unlocking your phone. Sliding your finger on it will automatically lead you to the app that generated that notification.

It looks very straightforward and useful.

2. Newsstand

Apple has built a virtual newsstand right onto iOS 5, very similar to the iBooks app but exclusively for magazines and periodicals. It looks like a cross between iBooks and a folder view, actually.

3. Twitter integration everywhere

iOS 5 will have Twitter integration everywhere. Apps like camera will be able to directly post the image to Twitter. The YouTube App, Safari or even Maps will support direct sharing in Twitter. It also adds a new Twitter address field to your Contacts application.

4. A new Safari

Safari has been revamped with new features. Reader will allow you to reformat a site on the fly, taking out ads and reformatting text so it looks better on your iPad or iPhone screen.

This feature flows into Reading List, which is a way to save those pages for later offline viewing, keeping them synchronised between all your iOS devices and Lion. Presumably via iCloud.

Apple's web browser also adds tabs in this version. Your open pages will line up right below your address bar. According to Apple, switching between pages is "lightning fast", so perhaps they have made some magic with the memory management to reduce the reload of pages in older devices.

5. New Reminders app

The new Reminders app makes it easy to make to-do lists. The interface is very simple and it's synchronised between iOS 5 devices and your Mac OS X desktop or notebook.

The new Reminders app makes it easy to make to-do lists. The interface is very simple and it's synchronized between iOS 5 devices and your Mac OS X desktop or notebook.

6. New Camera app

The new Camera up gets two of the most-requested features in the history of iOS. The first is a shortcut in the lock screen to access the camera right away, so you don't have to unlock and then click on the Camera icon, which often makes you lose the moment.

The other one, which is something we have whined about endlessly, is using one of the volume button as the shutter button. Just press + and that's it: CLICK! This is a very welcome addition.

The new app also includes basic photo editing. It includes quick enhance - which basically sharpens your image, making shadows and highlights more detailed, and correct colour automagically. It also include red-eye reduction and cropping, both welcome additions to those who don't have the Camera Plus already.

7. New Mail app

Mail includes a barrage of enhancements

• Rich Text Formatting, which will allow you to annoy the hell out of everyone bolding every sentence in your mails. • Indentation control, which allows you to control the level of indentation of your quotes from other messages. • Draggable email addresses, which allows to drag and drop email addresses into to, cc and bcc fields. • Message flagging to call your attention over a particular mail later. • Swipe to Inbox, which makes it very easy to access the list of message in portrait mode on the iPad, instead of clicking on a button for a weird pop-up dialog.

8. No PC required

At long last, the most important feature of them all: You will not need iTunes and PC anymore to use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Apple has caught up with Android and Windows Phone 7. The new iOS 5 will allow you to set up your new device easily: turn your new gadget on, and a Welcome screen will appear. All software updates will happen over the air.

All the applications will be now completely autonomous. You will not have to go to iCal or some other desktop app to create a calendar, for example. There is no need for a desktop or laptop anymore, for anything.

9. New Game Center

The have enhanced Game Center too. Unfortunately, they have not renewed its awful casino interface, which looks as dated as always. But they have added much needed concepts from Xbox Live and other gaming systems:

• Achievement points • Access friends of friends, so you can compare and play with a wider range of people • Photos in your profile, so you can flirt with other nerds pretending to be women online • Game discovery, to play with whoever wants to play with you at any given time • Game downloads within Game Center • Support for turn-based games like Words for Games and Scrabble

10. iMessage

Another new useful feature, which will hurt Blackberry and the telecommunications companies wanting to sell you stupid SMS and MMS contracts: Apple has implemented a new messaging system called iMessage.

It works between all iOS 5 devices, allowing you to leave conversations on your iPhone and continue them in your iPad (again, I will not be surprised to see this integrated into Lion at a later date). It comes with delivery notification as well. However, unlike WhatsApp, it doesn't work with other non-iOS devices. Maybe Apple thinks your Android and Blackberry friends are not worth talking to for free.

All the others

• Dictionary everywhere: This is something that people asks a lot, because they like it in the iBooks app. Now, every application will have Dictionary built-in. • iTunes synchronisation over Wi-Fi

When is it happening?

If you are a developer, it's happening right now. The developer preview is available. The rest of the world will have to wait till spring (in Australia).



    I might just stop jail breaking for this = )

    Heh heh... So much for a company that supposedly innovates. Now all it can do is play catch-up with the competitors. What's next? Bring out iPad 3 with 1 megapixel camera already. What's taking so long? Sheesh!

      I'd rather have their catch-up than the competition's innovation.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted

      Seriously? Man, this one made me laugh.

      You're either 12, or you're actually asking if homosexual OSX users are able to drag and drop music.

      Either way, really. Look at your life, do something with it.

        That means no. They can't.

          Yes, sorry Lachie, I neglected to answer the original question.

          ovt, no, homosexual Apple Mac users are not able to 'drag and drop' audio files through a regular non-iTunes connection and have them play on their iOS device. Homosexual (and indeed heterosexual, if you're interested) users still need to sync through iTunes.

          Thanks for your question.

    Nice to see apple is playing catchup with android. (with the notification bar)

      Yeah, it seems this whole ios5 is basically a big catch up. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You can't think of anything, sometimes good ideas are out there and you take them on board.

      I know it's a fine line, but I don't see it as copying (just as I hate people insinuating Vista and Windows 7 'copied' Spotlight. What a load.)

      Good on you Apple! You could have been all high and mighty and gone 'our current features are the best, stop whining' but you went with what the customers wanted. This is to be congratulated.

    Meh, think I'll wait till it's jailbreakable.

      You might have to wait till it gets released first...

    it is getting harder and harder to not have an iphone...

      No its not. I'm sitting here not wanting an iPhone right now.

      If you were smart you would already have an Android

        ..and yet you read this article.

          Oh shoot! replied to wrong comment! Was meant to be @bri_cheese

            I don't see how not wanting an iPhone precludes people from reading the tech news.

            I'm sitting here not wanting an iPhone right now as well, and yes, I read the article. Just because someone isn't wanting one it doesn't mean they're not receptive to new information that may possibly make them want one.

        "If you were smart you would already have an Android" << This statement implies that people who do not have an Android OS on their phone are not smart. This is a sweeping generalisation; not to mention one that is most clearly false. Intelligence is not linked to the operating system one has on their phone (if it were, IQ tests would simply have one question; what type of phone do you have?). In future I would recommend you to make less of a fool of yourself in public and maybe stick to making factual, or logically sound, arguments.

    EL OH EL! Seems like Apple copying Android now with the notifications...slide from top to bring it out. Exact copy. If Android copied Apple, their gang of lawyers would be having buttsecks right now

      Because heaven forbid that's never happened.

      If I am not mistaken, SBSettings (a jailbreak APP for iphone) was out before the Android OS was; If i am correct you are - again - incorrect on your assertions.

    I'm really excited about the new Camera settings, way better idea than unlocking and waiting for camera to load and miss the shot.

    Way to go! I had a blackerry and messenger was the only good thing about it I miss, whatsapp is ok, but just doesnt cut it.

    Nice one apple!

    They could've at least named ios5 something delicious, like apple pie or something...

    So the big question - can Safari load multiple tabs without closing down the previous ones yet?

    My 2 cents having used (each phone over 3 months) an iPhone4, Android (Dell Streak) and happily sticking with a Windows phone 7 (HTC Mozart)

    Apple did revolutionise mobile phones 5 years ago. But 5 years is a long time. Yes they are playing catchup now. Adding new small features is not a Version update.

    Both Android and Wp7 have updated their OS in the "cloud" for sometime, update your music and photos over wifi. Twitter, Facebook integration with the OS's have been available for close to a year. I love my ability to pin and link my contacts to one person on my WP7.

    Android is a far superior platform but after having an error message appearing constantly on my phone and bricking it for over 3 days ( and having to go back to a nokia phone) has cemented me that Android is complicated for a LCD user. i had to scour Google for days to find the solution which was to delete a old calendar appointment to solve my problem.

    For ease of use functionality you cant go past a Windows phone. Easy and simple to use. Okay it has no angry brirds and words for friends.
    Im still surviving with a phone that is a no brainer to use

      I'm glad you like your Win7 phone Steve. It looks interesting. But, this update supports more than just phones, and I'm really interested in the iPad updates. And as much as you like to justify your purchase, Windows phone 7 doesn't do tablets yet.

      Mind you. Windows 8 is starting to look interesting.

      I've played with all three OSs over the last 6 months and I have to say the WP7 interface is certainly the cleanest - and I love their email implementation. Unfortunately, their App list is too light-on for me at the moment.
      iPhones are great, but I've had a 3G for years now and I'm due for a change.
      Android has been my true favourite of the three - the flexibility is great and the presence of apps like Tasker, have made my phone do things that leaves even die-hard iPhone fans wanting to know more.
      The problem for me is that any choice locks me into 2 years with the handset & OS, so choices need to be made carefully!

    Can i have a separate volume control for email notifications, I dont like being woken up in the middle of the night because the USA decides to send some spam to me. And i dont want to mute it completely either.

    Would be great if the '+' feature for the camera app also worked with the stop watch. The stop watch on iOS is really well done, particularly for lap times, but it's almost impossible be accurate as you have to hover your finger over the stop or lap button.

    No MS Exchange Tasks and Notes sync? lame.. :S

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