Apple unveils iOS 5: Here's what's new
June 6, 2011 at 1:58 PM ET
The next major release of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 5, was shown off during the World Wide Developers Conference on Monday. iOS 5 brings over 200 new features such as a revamped notifications system, an improved lock screen, Newsstand, Twitter integration, multitasking gestures, over-the-air software updates and more.
Beck Diffenbach / Reuters
Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iOS Software at Apple Inc., talks about iOS5 for the iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, June 6, 2011. Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs strode back into the spotlight on Monday to unveil the iCloud, a music-streaming service that the company hopes will power its next stage of growth and popularize Web-based consumer services. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCI TECH)
- Notifications: Apple listened to users' pleas for a better iOS notification system and created something called the Notifications Center. It's a central spot for all your notifications — including those from apps — and it can be accessed by swiping your finger down from the top of your iPhone. (This might sound rather familiar to Android users ...)
- Lock screen: The iOS lock screen now provides a lot more information than before — and allows you to access apps directly by swiping across the screen. This way you'll be able to manage specific app alerts and notifications.
- Newsstand: Apple has created something called Newsstand. It's supposed to act as a direct line to magazines, newspapers, and other media. It allows for background downloads of media and places it into something that resembles the iBooks app.
- Twitter: Due to the incredible popularity of Twitter, Apple has chosen to fully integrate it into iOS. This means that you'll be able to tweet directly from the Camera, Photo, YouTube, Maps, and Contacts apps. You can even use Twitter to automatically update the photos in your contact list.
- Safari: Apple's giving its mobile browser some improvements.
- Reader: This little feature will kick in when you're reading a story on a website. It will basically provide you with an option to make the content easier on the eyes and provide you with a link to email the story.
- Reading List: Want to mark something for later reading? You can use the Reading List feature. It appears to even sync across devices, so if you prefer to finish reading something on your iPad or your Mac instead of your iPhone, you can.
- Full tab browsing in Safari: Mobile Safari — or at least the iPad version of it — now looks a lot more like the desktop version you're used to.
- Reminders: This little feature is basically a central to-do list which will keep you organized. As it's location aware, it can even remind you of events based on where you are.
- Camera: The Camera app has finally received a lock screen short cut so that you can start snapping photos even faster — without even having to enter a passcode. As a bonus, you can now use the volume up button to take a picture. Oh, and you can pinch-to-zoom right in the Camera app.
- Photo editing: You can now do basic photo editing — such as cropping, red eye reduction, enhancements, and such — straight out of the box.
- Mail: The Mail app now has rich text formatting, address dragging, indentation control, message flagging, full message searches, swipe to inbox, S/MIME support, and more.
- Dictionary: The entire iOS can now use the Dictionary feature. This means you can check on your word choice from any app.
- Keyboard: The on-screen keyboard will now split into two parts to make life easier for those who type with their thumbs.
- PC Free: Wireless syncing! You no longer need to rush to your computer to get started with your iOS device. Now you'll be greeted with a "Welcome" instead of a "Connect to iTunes" when you first unbox your iOS device.
- Over-the-air software updates: Your iOS device can now update directly over the air. And instead of having to download the entire operating systems, you're only downloading delta updates — the changes.
- Game Center: The iOS Game Center now has photos, the ability to compare yourself against your friends, a way to see friends of friends, recommended friends, and game recommendations. There will now also be turn-based games in iOS.
- iMessage: Apple has created a new messaging service that'll work between iOS users. You'll be able to send text, photos, videos, contacts, and group messages between the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The feature basically sounds a lot like BlackBerry Messenger and will show delivery receipts, read receipts, and typing indicators. Messages will be pushed to all your devices — and encrypted. Of course the whole thing works over either Wi-Fi or 3G.
- AirPlay mirroring: You can now mirror your iPad 2 right to your television — wirelessly.
- Wi-Fi sync to iTunes: Just what it sounds like. You can sync your device to iTunes over Wi-Fi. No more wires, folks! Oh, and your iOS device will back itself up before it syncs. So you'll be backed up every day.
- Multitasking gestures: Swiping across your iOS device's screen with four or five fingers will allow you to switch between apps.
Those are just a few of the over 200 new iOS features, so there's plenty of good news all around. There's some bad news too though: iOS 5 will not ship to customers until this fall. At that time it will be available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and the last two generations of the iPod Touch.
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Rosa Golijan writes about tech here and there. She's obsessed with Twitter and loves to be liked on Facebook.