REVIEW: iOS 5

The long wait is over and last night iPhone users in the UK were treated to the very latest operating system update from Apple, iOS 5.


And while BlackBerry fans sat twiddling their thumbs and iOS took its sweet time to download prompting the inevitable "Apple and BlackBerry crumble" jokes across the internet, the dust finally settled and fanboys and girls got their first taste of iOS 5.

 

Mobile Choice has been tinkering with this OS like a kid with a new toy all day, and here's our hands-on review of what's new:

iMessage

The iMessage service is open to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices updated to iOS 5, and much like BlackBerry Messenger or cross-platform instant messaging apps likes Whatsapp you'll be able to send messages to your contacts absolutely free. It's integrated with the existing Messages app and is available between iOS 5 devices. You'll be able to differentiate iMessages from SMS by the blue colour your messages to fellow iOS5 gadgets take on.

 

iCloud

One of the first newfangled features of the update, from the moment your handset boots up again post download you'll feel its presence. Enter an Apple ID and password and an iCloud login is yours. You're given 5GB worth of free storage on iCloud but you can buy more if need be or manage which of your apps you want to update over the cloud via your settings.

Notification bar

"We didn't nick it from Android, honest!" quoth Apple. Well that might not entirely be true but while the idea was certainly inspired by Android, the execution has with a distinct Apple twist. Your texts, Facebook notifications, tweets, calendar reminders and anything else you care to tag in here will appear on this top bar, which you pull down to access. No more big blue boxes hogging the screen as you watch YouTube videos of cats. You can even add things like the weather widget which, like the app, uses your GPS to work out what jacket you should wear. And yes, you can disable the live share price updates - go into settings, notifications, notification bar and untag whatever you don't wish to appear.

 

Twitter integration

Any operating system worth its salt reinforces the user's links to friends and family over social networks and iOS 5 is no exception, boasting extensive Twitter integration. On top of your Facebook profile link and photo appearing in your contact card, your Twitter username is now also listed. One click and you'll be able tweet a contact via their card in your phonebook or view their timeline. Twitter is also integrated with your camera roll so as well as being able to MMS or email photos, you'll be able to tweet them to your timeline straight away. YouTube is the same - no more copying and pasting links elsewhere to post on Twitter.

Camera

So you can tweet photos fast but what else can you do with your camera? Happy snappers will be delighted that you can access your camera with just two clicks on the menu button from a locked screen. Taking photos has got even better too with the option to have a grid over the screen to keep things nice and level. You can crop photos, get rid of red eye, rotate images and auto enhance them in just a few clicks and without having to download extra photo editing apps. You also have the ability to create photo albums. The camera rolls stays intact but iOS 5 lets you tag as many photos as you like into folders for easier navigation.

Multimedia

YouTube has that handy Twitter integration aspect to it and you can now access your subscriptions and playlists on your phone if you're fully signed in, and merge your favourites.


The iPod app is gone, replaced with two separate music and video apps. It's also easy to switch between your music and the iTunes store with a "store" button to take you one place and a "library" button to take you right back.

 

Mail, maps and web browsing

Flagging emails is even simpler now, and you can now format text in emails making it bold, italic or underlined for a much more desktop-like experience.


If you're looking for a route via the Maps feature, the latest version not only gives you directions but also several alternatives. Click on each route and it'll tell you how long the journey will take, accounting for traffic.


Safari's had some nifty little upgrades too; one top new feature is the "Reader" option. Viewing certain pages, you might notice a grey "Reader" button appear next to the url. Click it and the page is transformed, stripped of unsightly content like ads for a far nicer read. You can even email the page, not just the link or increase/decrease the font size to your liking.

 

There are some other brilliant little additions like the Reminder app for your ever-increasing to do list and the Newsstand which, like iBooks before it, houses paid for magazines and newspaper subscriptions.

Verdict

iOS 5 is a great shot in the arm for the iPhone. With improved Twitter integration, camera functions and multimedia boosts it seems Apple has thought about what we love about the iPhone and what we use it for in our daily lives. iMessage and iCloud services add an extra sparkle, introducing more people to cloud storage and potentially firing a warning shot to the SMS. However overall this is a rich tapestry of subtlety; neat little tweaks that we always wanted even if we didn't quite realise it. There are some added treats like Siri and Find my Friends waiting for those out to buy the iPhone 4S when it hits stores tomorrow. Mobile Choice will be on hand to talk you through those doozies as well, so stay tuned.

Written by Mobile Choice
Mobile Choice

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