In my last article, I had a chance to vent about my adventures with my new iPhone 4s. This iteration of the iPhone comes preloaded with the latest and greatest version of the operating system, iOS 5, but it was available for the masses on October 12. The devices that support this new iOS are the iPhone 3Gs, 4, and 4s, the iPod Touch 3rd and 4th Generation, and both the iPad and iPad 2. As soon as could, I updated my iPad 2 and my wife’s iPhone 4 to iOS 5 to begin testing out the new features this latest update brings to the table. There are quite a few things iOS 5 has added, but I’ll just expound upon the ones I really like.
The first thing I really like with the new iOS is the new Notification Center. The jailbreak community has had a nifty notification hack for a while; it was so nifty that Apple hired the programmer that came up with it. With iOS 5, you can swipe down from the top of the screen to see the notifications that are most recent, along with the weather, stock ticker, and more. You can customize which apps show up in the Notification Center in Settings, which can be helpful if you don’t care to be reminded about Words with Friends. When notifications come in, they don’t interrupt your current activity and just appear in a small bar at the top of the screen, then disappear. This is a better system by far and a welcome addition to the iOS.
The new Reminders app is touted as “a better way to do to-dos”, and it is looking to replace quite a few other apps that have made it onto iPhones and iPads everywhere. Since this is part of iOS 5, it integrates with iCal really well; it also provides a certain degree of Outlook integrations. One cool feature of Reminders is the ability to create locations so that you can get a reminder for something when you are near a geographic location. Setting reminders to pick up things when you get to the grocery store or to remember to pick up a package after you leave the office is of great benefit if you’ve been known to forget something every once in a while.
There is a new replacement to the old Messages app that handled text messages on your iPhone. iMessages still manages all your text conversations, but now, any messages sent between iOS 5 devices are not considered text messages, and for people on phone plans that are limited to a certain number of texts per month, this is a godsend. For iOS devices that aren’t phones, like the iPad or iPod Touch, iMessages uses an email address to facilitate the sending and receiving of messages, but they are displayed in the familiar interface you’re used to when sending and receiving texts.
A few other mentionable things are the ability to take photos from the lock screen, using the volume up key to take the photo, tabbed browsing and reading lists in Safari, text formatting like bold and italics, AirPlay mirroring, Twitter integration, and new multi-touch gestures for the iPad 2 that really help you to get around and switch between apps. Of course, along with iOS 5 comes iCloud, but that deserves an article all to itself.
Maybe we’ll dig deeper into iCloud in my next article, but for now, get iOS 5 on your device and start to realize the benefits this latest update provides.