I’ve had my hands on Apple’s latest iOS software (iOS 5 Beta 4 at time of writing) now for a few weeks running on my iPhone 4 and I have to say at this point I’m very impressed. The fundamental look and feel of iOS hasn’t changed much but Apple has introduced some long awaited features that really enhance the end user experience and make iOS an even better operating system.
Let’s get down to the meat and veggies and look at some of my favorite new features!
This HAS got to be the one feature I have been waiting for. As an avid checker of all things on my iPhone (email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc) it always irked me that I had to unlock my phone, and then check the apps to see if anything new had come in!
Those frustrations are now all gone!! There are a number of notification types and a number of ways notifications are displayed! When my iPhone is locked and an application triggers a notification it will be displayed on the Lock Screen. You can select which applications are displayed on the lock screen and how those notification are displayed.
Another frustration I had using the iPhone with iOS 4 (and before) was that if I was using an application and a notification was triggered, the notification pop up would take over the screen and I’d have to stop what I was doing to acknowledge the notification and then move on. With iOS 5, the notification is displayed in a little bar at the top of the iPhone screen and does not interrupt what you are doing. I had turned off all Skype notifications because if someone was sending me Skype messages, my iPhone would constantly ding and display pop ups! Drove me CRAZY!
The new Notification Center is another nice feature, but not really one I use that frequently. It will be interesting to see what comes of that but you can see a picture of it below.
2) Over The Air (OTA) iOS Upgrade
I LOVE this feature and I love the fact that Apple is moving away from requiring you to be connected to your computer in order to do anything with your iPhone. When Apple releases a new version of iOS you can download the upgrade to your phone by the push of a button. The phone will upgrade and reboot into the new iOS without ever having to connect to your computer. I upgraded from Beta 3 to Beta 4 this way without a hitch. Well, I was required to connect to my WiFi network and my phone had less than 50% battery life left which meant I had to connect it to a power supply! You don’t want your phone running out of battery while it’s upgrade, so that’s probably a good thing!
3) iTunes Wi-Fi Sync
This feature is in line with the comment above regarding Apple moving away from requiring you to be connected to your computer for upgrade – and is another feature I’m a huge fan of! When both your phone and your computer (running iTunes) are connected to the same WiFi network, you can perform a wireless sync! That means you can update apps, copy new music and podcasts over, sync photos etc all without having to connect up your phone!
4) Photo Button on Lock Screen
I haven’t really used this a lot, but it’s a handy feature. If you see something exciting and need to get to the camera quickly before you miss the moment, you just double click the home button and bingo there’s a spot you can click on the screen that takes your over to the camera pronto! I also noticed that you can take a photo now with the Volume button! A nice feature rather than having to find that spot on the screen to take your pic!
5) Mark As
I use the Mark As Unread function a lot in my email because I file my active todo emails as Unread. In iOS5 there is now a Mark button – when you click it you get the option to Flag the email or Mark as Unread. So for me, I never flag anything, just leave them as unread. So one extra step now.
I would also love the ability to delete an email and then return to the message list rather than automatically going to the next message, especially now that I have to Mark As Unread.
iCloud looks very interesting too although at this time it hasn’t really been made available. I am able to sync all my data to the cloud as well as backup my data to the cloud. I like the ability to backup my photos etc to the cloud, but I’m not sure about how viable the iWork feature of iCloud is. I’ll report back more on this one as Apple give us more of a look into iCloud.
Overall, I am very impressed with the new features and functionality of the iOS 5 Beta – even though they broke with Internet Tethering in Beta 4! I find myself eagerly awaiting the next version and using the OTA Update Checker to see if something new is available. Bring on iOS5 and the new iPhone! Can’t wait to get my hands on them!