Everything You Need To Know About iOS 5 In 7 Minutes

Apple's finalised the next version of its operating system, iOS 5, and it's a pretty big upgrade. Here's a look at all the new stuff you can expect when you install it on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Be sure to watch the video for a demonstration of practically everything here.

Notification Center

Notifications in iOS have always been obtrusive pop-ups and one of the biggest annoyances to users. Finally, in iOS 5, Apple's created Notification Center to solve that problem. Much like in Android, most notifications now pop up in the status bar. You can pull down the status bar to view any notifications you might have missed, see a little preview and interact with them. You can still get notifications the old way if you'd like, and you can set what type of notifications you'll get in your system preferences.

iCloud and iTunes Match

In an attempt to untether your iDevice, Apple has created iCloud and iTunes Match. iCloud is basically a revamped MobileMe that syncs more types of data across your many devices as quickly as it can manage. (So far it looks like it actually works, too.) It doesn't just sync contacts and appointments, but photos and other media as well. This goes for pretty much any purchase you make through iTunes. Additionally, if you subscribe to iTunes Match, which will be only available in the US at launch (for $US25/year for up to 20,000 songs), you get your music synced everywhere. You won't even need to upload songs already in the iTunes Store as Apple will see you have a copy of that song and allow you to download a copy from their store for free—even songs you ripped from a CD or acquired from other locations. If iTunes doesn't has the song, it'll send a copy to Apple and sync that copy with your devices manually. For $US25 per year, it's a pretty decent deal. The only downside is you're always downloading a copy and you currently cannot stream your music from, say, a web browser.

Note: iTunes Match is US only for now. Its release was postponed until later in October, so although it's supported in iOS 5 you won't be able to use it until iTunes 10.5.1 is released.

Wi-Fi Sync

Wi-Fi sync is a pretty awesome but also imperfect feature. It allows you to sync your device over Wi-Fi, just like you have it connected to iTunes. The downside is that you can't sync without connecting to power, so essentially you're still tethered to a cord. In a lot of ways this defeats the purpose, but if you plug in your iPhone in another room and want it to sync overnight it's still useful for that type of scenario.

Siri (iPhone 4S Only)

Siri is a pretty killer feature in iOS 5 that Apple kept under wraps until the final weeks before its announcement. If you're familiar with Android's voice command features, Siri is a step above. Not only can it do things like control your phone, compose and send text messages, and play music in your library, but also look up information and perform complex calculations (via Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha and other sources) to help you find practically anything you're looking for. It works in the same fashion as its predecessor, Voice Control, by activating when you press and hold the home button. After that, all you have to do is speak and wait for Siri to obey your command. For more on how Siri works, here's a detailed description of its functionality and some of the many things you can say to it.

iMessage

iMessage is essentially the exact same thing as the iPhone's SMS text messaging app, only it's now part of all iDevices. This means that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can all communicate with each other via text message regardless of whether they have mobile service or not. It also means all your messages are push-synced to your other devices so you can pick up where you left off when you're juggling Apple products. For some this is very exciting, as it opens up the lines of communications further. Others find this unpleasantly reminiscent of Blackberry Messenger and are dreading the closed, Apple-only messaging service.

Newsstand

If you like the idea of reading magazines on your iDevice, you can subscribe to participating content providers and wind up with a fancy folder to hold your casual reading material. Newsstand is basically a means of creating quick little shortcuts to your digital issues rather than create an app to manage them separately. Strangely, Newsstand does actually run as an app and may make an appearance in your multitasking bar.

Reminders

Reminder tries to remain simply by looking and acting like a to-do list. It's an Apple-made, mandatory app that lets you add a new task by typing it in on each line. You can set a date and an alert, much like you could with your calendar, and sync all your reminders via iTunes or iCloud. There's not much to this app, but if you've been missing a syncing to-do manager from Apple themselves, now you've got one.

Twitter

It's always interesting to see which services Apple decides to integrate into their operating system, and it looks like this time Twitter made the cut. You can now save your Twitter login information in your iOS settings for direct integration with the official Twitter app (downloaded separately). This isn't hugely important in and of itself, but makes it possible for developers to have tighter Twitter integration. If you're a fan of the social network, third-party apps should start to get a little more appealing.

Camera Grid and Photo Editing

The Camera app on the iPhone is supposed to launch and operate a little bit faster, although it seems about the same from where we're standing. As for features, it now has an overlaid grid that you can use for composition. The real additions are found in the Photos app, which is becoming a little more like iPhoto. You can now edit your photos to reduce red eye, enhance and crop.

Safari Reader and Tabbed Browsing

Reader was a new feature that came to Safari in Mac OS X Lion, but now it's available for iOS. Clicking the Reader button next to any URL in Safari creates a more text-oriented version of any web page. You can then adjust the type to reduce eye strain, much like you would in an eBook reading app like Kindle or iBooks. If you're running iOS 5 on an iPad, you'll not only get Reader but another long-desired feature: tabbed browsing. It would be nice to have the option on the iPhone and iPod touch as well, but at least this is a start.

Email Styles and Enhancements

Mail has received some neat updates as well. Now you can style your messages with bold, italic and underlined type by simply selecting it, tapping the more arrow and choosing what you want to do. In addition to adding style, you can also look up a word in the dictionary and adjust the message quote indentation level.

Calendar Views

On the iPhone and iPod touch, you can now view your calendar in a weekly view. On the iPad, you get a yearly view as well. In addition to these new display options, you can now add, rename and delete calendars from your device as well.

AirPlay Mirroring (A5-Based Devices Only)

If you have an iPad 2, or other iDevice with an A5 processor, you can utilise an awesome new feature called AirPlay Mirroring. This will let you mirror your device's screen on any AirPlay-compatible device (e.g. the Apple TV 2). This is great for demonstrations, but especially cool if you want to play a game (so we assume).

New Multitouch Gestures (iPads Only)

Apple has added a few new multitouch gestures for iPads. Using four or five fingers, you can now swipe up to access the multitasking bar, pinch inwards to return to the home screen, and swipe from side to side to switch between apps.


Comments

    Why on earth are the multitouch gestures only on iPad? They're really needed to get around the ubiquitous flakey home buttons on the Touch.

    "If you have an iPad 2, or other iDevice with an A5 processor..."

    Yes, that would be the iPhone 4S.

    I'm more worried about the fact that I HAVE an iPad, and no multitouch gestures are visible. Is it an iPad 2 thing only?

      only the A5 Processor with its phenomenal next-gen power can handle he tremendous task of recognising FOUR fingers at once!

      -Vice President of iOS

    meh my jailbreak does all of these but better

    I stopped reading at Notification center - what a ROFLOLMAO.

    This already appear on my first Android, 2.1 - more than 1.5 years ago.

    Anyway - this is Apple - a company that once does not support autofocus of its camera function.

      We get it, you sperg over the phones. Who cares.

        You apparently care enough to undermine me :)

        And sperg-ing? Haha - I just stating obvious facts...

    The best thing about the Reminders app is you can set up location based reminders to appear when you arrive at or leave a location. Sure you can't use Siri to do it on an iPhone 4, but it's still useful, and will probably make me use it rather than the other task manager I have.

    Not clear how you identify someone as an iMessage user.

    I noticed you can't put Reminders or Newstand into a folder.

      Firstly. You can and it is clear how you identify them: It will tell you when you're sending an imessage and it will change the send button to blue anyway. All it does is check that they have ios5 installed.

      You can put reminders in a folder, and you can put newstand in a folder even though it is a folder...

    So it's a kind-of wobbly post-action identification, so you'll never be sure you're sending a free message.

    I can't get reminders or newsstand into a folder. A friend tried as well and can't do it on his phone either.

    You can sync without connecting to power - Settings --> General --> iTunes wifi sync --> Sync Now
    - but it will sync automatically if connected to power...

    You even include a pic of Sync Now in your article...

    You can use multitask gestures if you have a jail broken iphone 4.3 .1 or later

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