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Saturday, October 15, 2011

iOS 5 Review: 10 Things to love

iOS 5, the new version of the iPhone and iPad operating system will be its best yet. We find out what's on offer and how it'll affect the way you'll use your Apple devices for years to come

Notification Centre

iOS 5 will make it much easier to stay in touch and up to date with your family, friends and co-workers. This is thanks to a vastly improved notfication system, which brings all your alerts - Reminders, iCal events, emails and iMessages - together in one place, One of the most notable changes is that alerts will no longer pop up in the middle of the screen on your phone - something that can be very annoying if you're playing a game.
Instead, the alert will appear discreetly at the top of the screen as a notification bar in whichever app you are in, with a slick but subtle animation to bring it to your attention. Clicking on the notification bar will take you to the iCal event, message or email you need to see, while swiping downwards will open the full Notification Center, revealing all your alerts, including updated info on any shares that you own as well as the local weather.
Another much-needed improvement (one that has been available on rival Android and Windows Phone 7 handsets for a while) is at-a-glance alerts on the lock screen. That’s great if you're in a hurry and need to see what's on your agenda, but the real beauty is what you can do with those alerts. If it's a voicemail, swiping left to right will play the message without you having to open the Phone app. It's a similar story with other alerts, though in some cases, such as the iMessage app, you can type a reply direct from the lock screen without delving into any menus.


Apple is clearly taking its cue from the huge success of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for this one. iMessage brings push instant messaging to the iPhone and iPad and even gives you the ability to send and receive text, photos, videos, locations and contacts, as well as send group messages to your friends.
The biggest catch, of course, is that you'll only be able to chat to friends and family if they own an iPhone or an iPad as well, although rumours suggest that iMessage instant messaging will also be included in an update to iChat on the Mac. What you won't be able to do is IM friends who use rival services or phones such as MSN, Yahoo, Android and BlackBerry. Luckily you can get around this by using other IM apps in the iTunes Store - Meebo (free) and WhatsApp Messenger ($0.99) being two great examples.


Using Twitter on iOS 4 can be a bit of a rigmarole, especially if you want to quickly post a link for followers to see. iOS 5 does away with all that by deeply embedding Twitter into the operating system. This means one-tap access to your Twitter account when using apps such as Photos, Safari and YouTube. Apple is making the API available to third-party developers so they can build Twitter integration right into their apps too.


If you're always forgetting to remember when your To Dos are due, then iOS S's new Reminders app should be an enormous help. This will enable you to create tasks, set their priority and their due dates. It will also make it easy to group related tasks together, However, the best bit is that Reminders is location-aware. Just create a task for a certain location and the app will remind you to do it when yuo get there - it's a great way of reminding yourself to pick up a pint of milk!


Newsstand finally brings iBook-style organisation to your magazine and newspaper subscriptions, while also giving you the ability to search and sign up for more using the dedicated section in the iTunes Store. Digital issue updates are flagged as notifications on the app itself as well as in the new Notifications Center.

Wi-Fi Sync

If the concepts behind PC Free and iCIoud give you the vapours, don't worry: you will still be able to sync your iPhone to your Mac — and you'll even be able to do it wirelessly, using iOS 5. All you have to do is plug your iPhone into the mains power and Wi-Fi Sync will take care of the rest automatically, How cool is that?

PC Free

One of the biggest and most important changes to iOS 5 is that you'll no longer need to hook an iPhone, iPod or iPad up to your Mac to set it up and synchronise it, Each one will work straight out of the box and all your emails, music, photos and any apps that you own will be available to download from iCloud,
Steve jobs announced this radical step during his keynote at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) last summer, arguing that it was finally time for the Mac to be demoted from a hub for your digital lifestyle into just another device, Part of the reasoning for this change is that the growth of powerful, internet- connected devices like the iPad and iPhone no longer need a hub to sync to - they can get all the content they need by themselves.
The other main reason is Apple's discovery that many iPod and iPad-owning households don't have or don't want any kind of computer. Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice-president for iOS software told the audience at the WWDC keynote;
"[These households] want to buy an iOS device as their only device - and that's what we're going to support in iOS 5."


With the 8 megapixels camera in the iPhone 4S, it's good to see that the app's getting an overhaul too. New in iOS 5 is a camera button on the lock screen, meaning quicker and easier snaps without having to delve into menus. As with the latter, another feature familiar to Windows Phone 7 users is the ability to use the volume up button on the side of a smartphone as a physical shutter button. That's coming to the iPhone in iOS 5 too.
Apple also appears to be taking certain camera cues from existing iPhone photography apps such as Camera+ new features include optional grid lines to help you frame your shots; a new pinch-to-zoom gesture, which supplements the current zoom slider; and zoom/exposure locks - a single tap on a subject on-screen automatically adjusts the focus and exposure. Holding your finger down locks it there, even if you move the camera.
The Camera+ app will automatically download any pictures you take to all your other devices - all you have to do is enable the PhotoStream feature of Apple's forthcoming iCIoud computing service.


Because you don't need to sync an iOS 5 device to your Mac anymore, Apple has beefed up its photo app so you can edit and enhance your snaps on your iPad or iPhone, before sharing them with friends or syncing them with iCIoud. Goodies include red-eye reduction and cropping. You can even create albums on your device now too.


The world's best mobile browser is catching up with the Mac version, with Reader, Reading List and Tabbed Browsing making their way into iOS 5 at last. Reader cuts the clutter on web pages so content is easier to read, while Reading List lets you save web pages for viewing later. Tabbed browsing is long overdue, but will only be available on the iPad.

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