iOS 5: Nothing new, but will change everything

It's ironic it took Apple so long to implement copy-paste for the iPhone - since it's so great at copying and pasting in the first place. Boom.

So the new iPhone will finally have the features that jailbroken old iPhones have. Also Android phones, BlackBerry phones and various apps that have, over the years, plugged the numerous gaps in Apple's elegant but option-free OS.

Nothing new then, but in classic Apple style, the features shown off at yesterday's demo are tightly woven into an impregnable carpet of user experience that, you know, "just works".

Yep, the Notifications Centre with its pull-down menu of new events is an Apple take of what Android does. iMessage bites BlackBerry BBM's style: free, unlimited and only works with other iOS 5 users. Twitter integration - like the Mango update for Windows Phone 7 then, which incidentally also supports the full Facebook integration iOS 5 will still lack.

iTunes Match? Spotify already pulls your library of tunes so that you can stream music from home on your phone. And like the new iTunes in the Cloud, Spotify will sell you music that you can listen to on several devices too. (Update: We've just heard iTunes Match won't launch in the UK just yet.)

Speaking of, it's pretty great that when iOS 5 launches, you won't need to plug your iPad or iPhone into a computer to make it work, nor to sync it, nor get updates eh? Like how Windows Phone 7 and Android phones do it.

The reason it's big news on the iPhone is the same reason millions of people bought the last iPhone in the face of glaring omissions: the interface so sleek it glamours you to forgetting about anything it can't do.

iOS 5 will let you pick up instant messages on your Mac OS X computer where you left off on your smartphone; sync your iPod Touch music to play on your iPad; remove notifications of new events on your iPhone if you've read the email on your MacBook.

There are the little things too, like the Read It Later tab in Safari that lets you save and sync links to read later on any iOS 5 device. Just like one of my favourite apps, Instapaper.

As we collectively become more techie and own more gadgets, this convergence becomes increasingly important. The information we access on one device needs to be reflected on all our devices.

Take iCloud, the bigger, badder version of MobileMe and probably the most significant announcement for mobile. Like Android, iCloud lets you sync your contacts, calendar, apps and device settings to access on any device. Like Microsoft's SkyDrive, you can save documents. Like HTC Sense, you can back up your photos, video and messages online. If it works better than MobileMe - and as tightly as it seemed to work in the demo - Apple has a killer app on its hands.

Of course, most of us are already using 'the cloud' in the form of webmail, and if you use a smartphone, contact and calendar backup. Online file storage servers like Dropbox are an example of the increasing trend among the more tech-forward to keep documents on a faraway server accessible from anywhere. Apple didn't invent cloud services, but it's probably invented the interface that will convince you. Getting Joe Public to buy into technology is what any tech company is after, and Apple nails it almost every time - take MP3 players, touch-screens and now cloud services.

iOS isn't the most innovative OS around - I still think that accolade goes to Windows Phone 7 - but it's delicious in that rigid simplicity. And as every iPhone before now as shown, simplicity sells. Whether or not copy-paste is involved.

Written by Mobile Choice
Mobile Choice

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