Apple iOS 5 | Review | First look | Features
It's June again, time for Apple to make headlines. The WWDC is over and the iOS 5 and the iCloud are now official. It won't be before the fall though that the iOS 5 will officially launch.
However, Apple has given us a taste of the iOS 5 by releasing a developer preview soon after the announcement. We went on to update an iPhone 4 with the beta release and we are ready to share our first impressions.
But before we continue, let's take a look at the most important features to premiere on the iOS 5.
Apple iOS 5 new features:
- Notifications - real time on-screen notifications, lockscreen notifications and pull-down Notification Center
- iMessage service in the Messaging app enabling instant messages to other iOS users
- Reminders - including location-aware options
- Customizable notification sounds - email, voicemail and calendar alerts
- Twitter integration
- iCloud service integration
- Enhanced Camera app - viewfinder grid, hardware shutter key
- Integrated photo editing - crop, auto enhance, rotate and red-eye fix
- Updated Safari - tabbed browsing (on iPad), private browsing mode, integrated Reader, Reading list and optimized performance
- Dictionary lookup throughout the interface
- Computer free operation - independent activation, OTA updates, iCloud backup and restore
- Wi-Fi synchronization with iTunes with automatic operation
- New features in the Mail app - Bold, Italic, Underline and Quote options, extended Search, mass Mark as Read/Unread and Flag setting, Add/Delete mailbox folders
- Updated Calendar and Game Center apps
- Newsstand app combining all of your magazine subscriptions
- iPod player now called Music, has new icon
- Separate Video app for iPhone
- AppStore purchase history (already available for iOS 4 too)
- New Storage management options (list and info of all installed apps)
- Multi-tasking gestures for iPad
- AirPlay mirroring for iPad
- New accessibility options involving the LED flash and custom vibrations
Typically, there's still plenty of stuff missing and some of the things will probably never make it to the iOS. Here is a list of the things we continue to miss:
- No Flash support in the web browser
- No quick toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G
- No Facebook integration
- No proper widgets for the lockscreen
- App folders still are limited to 12 apps tops
- No DivX/XviD video support out of the box (though there're lots of players in the App Store)
- No USB Mass storage mode for uploading content to the device
- No haptics for the touchscreen
- No Bluetooth file transfers to other phones
- Contacts lack a swipe-to-delete or mass delete feature
Well, the list is notably shorter than last year's. It's debatable though whether Apple listened to the users or just filled their time with low-priority features that have been on the list for quite some time. Either way, some of the new stuff is quite good so let's waste no more time on introductions. Follow us on the next page where we start to explore the iOS 5 at close range.
User interface on iOS 5 - Notifications, Lockscreen camera key, Newsstand
The Apple's iOS must be already approaching the final stage of its evolution. The platform has certainly been through a lot. This is the fourth major update, and it brings less change than the others. It's not to say the iOS is finally close to what Apple had in mind for it. And by the way - what Apple has in mind is not necessarily what users have come to take for granted or other platforms have had forever. But when you have the standard-setting touchscreen interface you can afford to make your own rules.
Anyway, iOS may as well be still a few updates away from a complete overhaul, the scale of Windows Phone 7. So let’s focus on the here and now.
Apple says the iOS 5 brings more than 200 new features. We didn't bother count, but the really interesting things are about 40 at best.
There have been virtually no visual changes to the core interface. The only new thing you'll notice are the new toggles in the settings menu – they're now circles instead of squares.
The familiar homescreen • the new toggles
To go straight to one of the most important novelties though - the iOS 5 has a new approach to Notifications.
Notifications are enabled on both the lockscreen and the homescreen - and there's an Android-like pull-down Notification center. You can set the behavior for each app's notifications: view in Notifications Center on/off, view on Lock Screen on/off, Badge icon on/off, number of shown items 1/5/10 and alert style - off/banner/pop-up alert.
The system if pretty flexible and configurable now.
The notification settings
The notifications on the lockscreen are displayed only as long as you unlock the phone. The next time you lock it, they are all gone even if you haven’t checked them up.
To access an event from the lockscreen, just slide its icon left-to-right just as you would unlock the phone. Simple as that.
The notifications on the homescreen or any running app can be displayed in two ways - as a banner at the top of the screen or as a pop-up.
Notification banner and pop-up on the homescreen The notification banner at the top stays for a few seconds and then disappears. If you tap on it you will be taken to the relevant app. The pop-up alert works the same way: it appears at the center of the screen and has two buttons - View and Dismiss.
Finally, the pull-down Notification Center works just like the notifications in Android. You can access the Notification Center from anywhere in the interface. It does pause the app below, so there’s no chance that you crash your car in Real Racing.
The Notification Center
The Notification Center displays all your pending alerts. You can enable/disable and rearrange the alerts from the Notification settings.
The Notification Center supports widgets too. Currently there are only two - Weather and Stocks - but we expect more to come in the future.
There are two more things we need to mention related to the general interface. The first one is the dedicated Camera shortcut on the lockscreen. You can bring it up the same way you invoke the music controls - with a double click of the Home button. The camera key appears right next to the Unlock slider and will launch the Camera app when tapped.
The camera shortcut on the lockscreen • the Newsstand
The other thing is the Newsstand app on your homescreen, which displays as a homescreen folder. All the periodicals you buy at the App Store will go there.
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