We’ve seen the iPhone 4S, we’ve talked about Wall Street being unimpressed with the announcement, now it’s time to look at the software and services, iOS 5, iCloud and iTunes Match in particular. While Apple claims 200 “huge” new features are available with the iOS 5 upgrade (which is free), we have neither the time, space nor patience to go through each one of them. Instead let’s discuss the main enhancements, additions and features users will experience when they get there hands on iOS 5.
Notifications and iMessage
If there is one gripe iOS device owners would agree is severely lacking when compared to the opposition (Android/Windows Phone), notifications would definitely rank near or at the top. In retrospect even RIM’s Blackberries running OS 6 and the all but dead HP Palm Pre’s have a better notification system when compared to that of any iOS device. iOS 5 addresses that in a big way with notification center, which combines all notifications, sorted by apps, in one central place. Swiping down from the top of the screen will reveal all notification and have them listed and grouped by app. Notifications can now be seen on the lock screen and you now have to ability to control which apps notifications will appear in the notification center.
iMessage is the new iOS-based messaging service similar to the popular service available on blackberries (BBM). iMessage allows you to send text messages, photos, videos and contacts between fellow iOS users, regardless of device. iMessage supports group messaging and is cross-device compatible, meaning all messages on one idevice are mirrored on your others, and vice-versa. You can literally start a conversation on one device and finish it on another.
Think of Newstand as a centralized location for all digital subscriptions. The covers of newspapers and magazines will update to mirror the most current issue available for download. A new store link is available which will direct you specifically to the section of the App Store dedicated to subscription-based media.
Reminders allow you to create simple lists of things you need to be uh, reminded of. Reminders can be assigned to dates in the calendar or even to a specific location. Reminders will sync across all your iOS devices via iCloud if chose to do so. Third party to-do apps have been put on notice.
A single sign-in menu located in the settings app gives you the ability to configure Twitter with all compatible apps such as Camera, Safari and Maps. With Twitter being integrated into many of iOS 5’s built-in apps you can now quickly send photos, videos, pages and map information to all your Twitter contacts. Twitter third party apps also seem to have been put on notice by Apple with this integration.
New Camera and photo editing
One of the most impressive upgrades to the iPhone 4S is the addition of a new 8 megapixel camera. Apple also will make using this new camera a lot easier than before with the addition of a camera button on the lock screen and the volume up button doubling as an optional shutter control. Also available are several new photo editing tools, providing you the ability to crop, rotate, and remove red-eye without an additional app. Other new features include the ability to pinch-to-zoom, use single-tap focus, exposure locks and the ability to bring up a grid overlay.
Safari with Reader feature
Safari finally gets actual tabs on the iPad and a Reading List\View, which lets you save articles to view later and removes everything but the content for a clean look (think Instapaper).
PC Free and Wi-Fi Sync
iDevice users, welcome to the untethered world. With iOS 5 you can setup and manage your device completely PC free with no need to connect to iTunes. With Wi-Fi Sync and iTunes Match, again there’s no need to open up iTunes, all your music can be sync’d through the cloud. Another big change is that software updates are now available over-the-air (OTA), and are now delta updates, only requiring downloading the specific changes made. With the delta updates no longer will you be left with massive downloads for small changes.
Siri – The Voice activated assistant
Siri is a voice activated tool that allows you to control and perform many functions on your iPhone 4S. Apple spent north of $200 million when it acquired Siri last year and were proud to show what an investment it turned out to be. To activate Siri you must perform a long-press on the home button and then just say whatever command you wish Siri to perform. Commands demonstrated included getting the weather, directions on maps, recommendations for restaurants, sending texts, checking local traffic reports, set timers, look up contacts, create notes, search the web, search Wikipedia and more. Words don’t truly describe just how awesome Siri seems to be, watch the official Siri demo on the iPhone 4S to truly get a sense for what Siri is offering.
Game Center updated
New to Game Center in iOS 5 are achievement points, photo sharing and friend\game recommendations. Game downloads can now be made directly from Game Center and turn-based games can be played directly from with-in the OS. It’s almost like Xbox Live for iOS, somewhat…
Specifically for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, AirPlay mirroring lets you broadcast or mirror your iPad or iPhone, including home screens and all apps, live to your TV via an Apple TV.
iCloud which plays a huge roll in iOS 5 replaces MobileMe but provides just about the same abilities, free automatic syncing of email, contacts, calendars, music, videos and more for all iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion users. iCloud will also be the backbone for iTunes Match, Apple’s cloud music service. Apple’s iCloud will support up to 10 devices for free and 5GB of free storage an additional 10GB will cost you $20 per year, 20GB will cost $40 per year, and 50GB will be $100.
iTunes match (using iCloud) keeps a copy of your entire iTunes library (up to 25,000 tracks) in the cloud to be accessible from any registered device.
iOS 5 and iCloud will be available for existing iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and 3rd and 4th-gen iPod touch users on October 12. iTunes Match with launch at the end of the month in the US with Apple working to release it internationally in the future.
There are other minor updates included with iOS 5 including additional gesture commands (4 and 5 finger swiping), HTML-formatted composition in Mail as well as message flagging and mailbox folder management. But as noted the features listed above are the creme de la creme so to say.