IPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners will receive a ton of new features in iOS 5. The bad news is that the latest and greatest mobile operating system won’t be available until fall of this year for consumers. On the up side, we’ve made getting a knowledgeable head start on what’s to come super easy. So hit up the next page to check out the highlights of what was announced. We’ve even ranked them to sort out just the nifty stuff from the ground breaking — with the best saved for last.
If you’re big into competitive mobile gaming, Apple’s game center has now made it easier to see how your skills compare with friends, and even friends of friends. To further fuel your gaming addiction, you can now also purchase games inside game center, and see a list of recommended titles you’d probably like based on your previous activity. So much for free time.
Just like the iBooks store, Newstand makes reading your favorite magazine subscriptions better on iOS devices — minus the surely attendant trying to shill you breath mints.
Sharing activities and exploits, pointless or not, is now integrated into the core of iOS 5. Sign in once, and tweet images and much more without having to open the dedicated Twitter app on your phone. Communicating just got even lazier.
Apple now has a to do list app of their very own. What’s cool about this version is that certain activities can be triggered based on where you are, so your phone won’t bother annoying you about doing the dishes if you’re still stuck at the office.
New Mail App
The iOS mail app has finally received some much needed love. Search now looks at your entire inbox and can parse through the bodies of email as well as the subject line, sender, and date. Users can create folders and flag email accordingly too, helping neat-freaks stay on top of their growing inboxes. Other nice touches include a new sweep gesture to jump to the inbox on the iPad, and a split screen keyboard mode for thumb typers who refuse to assimilate.
Wireless iPad Screen Mirroring
Apple released a special cord when the iPad 2 was announced which let tablet owners mirror their tablet screen on a larger TV. Now iPad owners can do the same thing, sans wires — making TV-based web browsers even more irrelevant.
Apple took a few cues from Android and the iOS jailbreaking community to totally revamp how updates and alerts are showcased in iOS. Just pull down the top status bar to view all notifications in an easy to read list. Swipe across items in the list to go directly to that app. Forget about those annoying in your face blurbs overtaking your screen every time someone sends you a text, or challenges you in scrabble too. Now, all messages appear in a small top drawer, leaving your screen free to stay focused on what you were doing. The lock screen displays updates as well, so there’s no need to unlock your phone just to learn that your latest high score was owned.
Apple has tweaked the iOS version of Safari to work more like its bigger desktop brother. New features include the introduction of tabbed browsing (huzzah!), and a reading list feature which converts complex web-based articles into an ad-free reading experience all on one page. It’s also useful for bookmarking things for later, on your mobile devices or your desktop.
The bells are tolling for the end text message packages. iMessage takes all of the exclusive and snoopy qualities Blackberry owners loved about BBM (Blackberry Messenger) and brings it to all iOS devices. As a special app, iPhone, iPod, and iPad owners can send texts, photos, and videos to one another over 3G or Wifi. Users can also view when a message is delivered, read, or is in the process of responding to a message. Yup, it’s just another excuse for Apple fans to become even more cultish.
Camera App Improvements
Users can now jump immediately to their camera app by tapping a new button on the lock screen — you don’t even have to type in your password. The camera shutter can also be triggered by pushing the volume knob, making it easier to snap photos. Red-eye reduction, auto focus lock, and easy photo cropping are all readily available too — making quick edits easy. So forget blaming those missed opportunities to capture great and embarrassing moments on your sluggish smartphone.
Say adios to the days of syncing your iPhone, iPad, or iPod via a wire. We’ve been waiting for a while, and now everything from iOS software updates, to backups, to transferring songs from your iTunes library can be done over a Wifi connection. Essentially, you no longer need a personal computer to get the most out of Apple’s portable devices. Cue Steve Jobs laughing maniacally.
Apple saved the best for last when it came to feature announcements. iCloud is a new service that’s designed to help managing various files across your growing pile of devices a thoughtless process. To quote Apple, “”iCloud stores your content in the cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices.” More specifically, the iCloud service is connected to nine apps including Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Calendar, Contacts, Apps, iBooks, Photos, and iTunes. Users will receive 5 GB of space — apps, books, and photos don’t count to that total. Users can store the last 30 days worth of images or up to 1,000 photos in a separate Photo Stream allotment. To learn more about iCloud, check out our separate article on the topic.