iOS 5 has been out for four days now. So it’s the perfect time to give our impressions on some of the features now that they are out of the box. By far, iOS 5 is the best iOS yet. The focus this time around wasn’t to just please customers by solving their grievances of a previous iOS, but to also provide them with amazing new features. To begin, download and set up was a long process. Trying to download on a busy system coupled with new software resulted in four error messages and having to re-back up before actually getting my hands on iOS 5. The effort was well worth it, let’s look at why.
Notification Center is one of the top iOS 5 features to be released. Notification Center works both with your home screen is unlocked and locked. When your home screen is locked, the notification pops up either as an alert or banner. When your iPhone goes to sleep, the notification remains when you return. When your iPhone is awake and the home screen is unlocked, a notification is shown at the top as a banner without interrupting what you’re doing. Notification Center works with any application that supports notifications, emails, messages, and calls. What if you missed a notification? No problem, just swipe your finger from the top to the bottom to reveal a menu bar. Notification Center is a feature that we all will find helpful.
Twitter is finally built-in with iOS 5. However, it’s not the type of integration you’d expect. Instead of being used as a social networking integration, it’s more of a posting integration. Photos, maps, contacts, YouTube, they are all affected by the integration. You can share photos within Photos app, share your location with your followers, grab a Twitter followers photo for their contact info, share a favorite YouTube video and more with the integration. The integration is music to the ears of Twitter addicts like myself.
Is it Apple’s answer to BBM? Some say so, and I agree with them. iMessage made its debut with iOS 5 and both services have some similarities. iMessage is a service that allows you to send unlimited MMS and text messages between other iOS devices for free. The service works on both 3G and WIFI, and its seen as a great alternative to those who don’t have unlimited messaging. In addition, if you’ve ever wanted to share a funny GIF you found on Tumblr or some other website, iMessage allows you to do it while regular messaging doesn’t. iMessage is quite smart, if it recognizes you are messaging an iMessage-supported device, it will automatically change the green text bubble to a blue one, essentially changing the type of message as well.
iCloud and Wireless Sync
iCloud is the new service that some say is in a right of its own, separate from iOS 5. iCloud allows you to back up and restore your content between other Apple devices and saved in the “Cloud”. iCloud replaces the paid service of MobileMe, offering you 5GB of free storage and your very own @me.com email address. However, if you want more storage, it does come at a cost. However, you should remember, iTunes allows you to keep your library of songs, videos and apps in the cloud, free of charge. So it doesn’t affect your free 5GB allowance.
Apart of iCloud, you can now wirelessly sync and activate your iPhone. This is the perfect feature for those who are trying to move toward a fully mobile life. The over the air sync doesn’t just include your content, it also includes smaller and larger software updates. The feature activates each time you charge your phone.
Camera and Photos
If you own an iPhone 3GS, it feels nearly impossible to take a self-photo. However, with iOS 5, the vain and the vain at heart will squeal with joy with the ability to take a photo with your volume rocker. In addition to this, taking a photo will be easier than making a phone call with the ability to take a photo from the lock screen. Just double tap the home button and click the camera icon to get going. When your photo is taken, you have the ability to edit it within the Photos app. You can enhance the photo (similar to the iPhoto feature), remove red-eye, crop, and rotate the photo. Again, as a push to be PC free, instead of having to connect to iTunes to create albums, you can now create them within your iPhone.
The Smaller Features
There are a ton of smaller updates that Apple also released with iOS 5. The calendar feature now has landscape as well as portrait support. Turning your phone to landscape will allow you to have a week view of your calendar. You can also drag an event to adjust the date and time, instead of having to go in the event’s details. Aside from calendar, Mail received a text revamp with the ability to underline, bold, and italicize text. Airplay comes to iOS 5 with the ability to view your iOS device through Apple TV.
A new reminder’s app allows you to have your very own to-do list on your iOS device. Plus, there are two apps that are a product of iOS. Find my Friends, the ability to find users with iPhones based on their location (you both must opt in and agree before it’s shown) and the Cards app that allows you to create, personalize, and send greeting cards to anyone’s home for $4.99. Music and Videos app now have a divorce (they are even on different pages now, quite exciting). Newsstand is Apple’s answer to a more uniform location for publication developers. Publications can be purchased in the App Store.
iOS 5’s Hidden Features
Along with these smaller but public updates, Apple didn’t say they have over 200 new features for nothing. There are also a number of hidden features that haven’t received much attention. You are now able to create your very own vibrating tone. All you have to do is go to “Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Custom Vibrations” and turn it “on”. Then, when you go back to sounds, go to the very bottom and click “Vibration”. The custom vibrations are only for calls and notifications in silent mode, you can’t set a specific vibration for each contact or separate one for calls and another for notifications. You can now watch YouTube videos in HD, just make sure you have unlimited data or WIFI, those videos put a hamper on a data allowance. Google Maps now brings the alternate routes from the web to your iPhone now. Safari is faster, with the Reader feature, and Read it later.
Our Final Wrap-Up
I bet you feel the need to take a nap now, just from reading the list of features in iOS 5. However, if you haven’t updated yet, get off the couch, connect to iTunes and update your iOS device as soon as possible. The update is available for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and iPod Touch. The update works just as fine on my iPhone 3GS as it does on an iPhone 4S. There are times, when in intensive game play or using certain apps, that Notification Center glitches up when alerting me of a notification. It’s a small disappointment, but nothing bad. I tried iOS 5 on my iPad, through a different download and have found that it works but there’s a reason why it’s not available for iPad. The software, surprisingly, fared well on an original iPad, but with storage issues, Apple’s decision of having it available for the newer devices was a smart move. The free update is available on iTunes today with the latest iTunes 10.5 software. New iPhone purchases, including the iPhone 4S, come shipped with iOS 5.