There’s no question that iOS is a dominant force in the mobile arena. Apple’s mobile OS can be found in the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. A modified version of the OS even appears in the Apple TV.
As usual, Apple liked to throw out a lot of figures with regards to iOS
For all of Apple’s success with iOS (the iPhone has a large chunk of the smartphone market and the iPad dominates in tablet sales), there’s still a lot of room for improvement with the operating system. First launched in 2007, iOS has seen new functionality tacked on over the years, but in look and function, it remains mostly the same.
Apple is looking to shake things up a bit with iOS 5, and hopes to correct many of the issues that have plagued the platform for years. IOS has 1,500 new APIs and 200 new features — 10 of which Apple is covering today. The biggest one (and the one that most have been BEGGING for) is an improved notifications system.
Even Apple’s Scott Forstall admitted that the current modal system for displaying notifications is annoying. IOS 5 includes a new Notification Center. Swiping down from the top of the screen will show missed calls, email messages, Facebook updates, weather information, etc. (**Cough**, Android). Tapping an alert sends you directly to the corresponding app, while clicking on “X” will dismiss the alert.
The previously barren and useless lockscreen now also shows notifications and allows you to slide your finger across the alert to go directly to the corresponding app (i.e. a missed text will send you to the SMS app).
The next new feature is News Stand, which is pretty much self explanatory. It provides a centralized location for subscription content (newspapers and magazines).
A feature that was rumored last week for iOS 5 was confirmed today: tightly integrated Twitter support. Love it or hate it, Twitter is becoming an important medium for mass communication and Apple is looking to make it easier for users to use the service. The Camera and accompanying Photo apps will now have the ability a “Tweet” option to directly upload pictures (and 140 characters) to your Twitter account. Twitter functionality is also integrated into the Contacts, Maps, and Browser apps.
The next iOS app to get an update is Mobile Safari. Apple claims that Mobile Safari accounts for 64 percent of the mobile browser usage. Reading List allows you to save stories for later viewing (think Instapaper) and can be synced across iOS devices. The largest member of the iOS family, the 9.7″ iPad/iPad 2, gets full tabbed browsing with iOS 5.
The next new feature is Reminders, which is simply a “to do” task list for iOS. Reminders are location-aware, i.e. pulling up to the Target parking lot would popup an alert reminding you to pickup some shampoo.
The Camera app also gets an update, this time with ability to jump to the app directly from the lock screen if you need to take a quick picture. And finally, Apple will allow users to take a picture using a physical button — in this case, the volume button. Pictures can also be cropped, rotated, and even have red eye reduction applied to them after the fact.
One of the most used apps on iOS devices is Mail. Apple is bringing updates to this app courtesy of rich text formatting and the ability to flag message and search entire email messages. There is also now a built-in dictionary that is accessible by all iOS applications. S/MIME has also been added for business users. IPAD users will also get a new split keyboard feature to help making typing an easier endeavor.
Another huge new feature is “PC Free”, which simply means that users can now cut the [USB] cord to your Mac/PC. There is no longer a need to plug in an iOS device to set it up — device activation occurs on-device and software updates now sync OTA (welcome to the party, Apple). “Delta” updates will only download relevant changes to the OS to an iOS device so that a huge 300MB update isn’t needed.
The next feature Apple addressed is Game Center. Apple claims to now have 50 million Game Center users (versus a “mere” 30 million for Xbox Live). Photos of friends can now appear in Game Center, and achievement points can be earned. You can also recommend games to friends.
Finally, there is iMessage which supports the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. It allows iOS users to send messages, photos, and videos to each other (including group messages). It works over Wi-Fi and 3G and includes secure encryption. It also features delivery/read receipts, typing indication, and push support. Naturally, iMessage takes full advantage of the new notifications capabilities.
IOS 5 is coming this fall and will support the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4, iPad/iPad 2, and the third and fourth gen iPod touch.
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