Apple iOS 5 and iCloud are unveiled
Apple has revealed the details of iOS 5 – the latest version of the iPhone operating system – and iCloud, its new content sharing service.
Breaking his medical leave from the company, CEO Steve Jobs revealed the details at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
The update will be available free on the iPhone 3GS and all later versions, and will be arriving sometime in the autumn.
Apple iOS 5 for iPhone
According to Apple, the new version of the software will include 200 new features – but they only went into detail for 10 of the features.
1 – Improved notifications
Taking a rather large and liberal leaf out of Android’s book, Apple has included a very familiar looking notification system.
Notifications will now no longer stop a video you are watching, or get in the way of web browsing, but be displayed at the top of the screen. This can then be pulled down to show a list of all your notifications. The lock screen will also show a list of all your notifications with the icons of the relevant apps.
2 – Newsstand
The magazine store on iOS devices has been given a polish, with all magazine covers automatically updated and any magazine you have a subscription for automatically downloaded in the background for viewing offline.
3 – Twitter integration
All apps that are able to use Twitter will now ask for your credentials once and save you from having to log in each time. You will then be able to quickly share photos, web pages and locations quickly and easily using a ‘tweet sheet’ common to all supported apps.
You can also add @usernames from Twitter into your contacts book.
4 – Safari update
Apple has added three new features to the Safari browser – Reader, Reading List and Tab browsing.
Reader – a feature from Apple’s Mac operating system – strips out all the ads on a web page and other distractions, leaving just the text and making it easier to read an article. If an article is spilt between multiple pages this will also pull them into a single page.
Reading List complies a list of articles that you don’t have time to read immediately. This syncs with other iOS devices, Macs or PCs – meaning you can access an updated list no matter what device your using.
Tab browsing makes it easy to switch between web pages in pretty much the same way as has become ubiquitous on computer based browsers.
5 – Reminders
Pretty much just a to-do list app for iOS. You can set dates as well as locations so if you break a ‘geofence’ – i.e. leave or arrive at a location – it will inform you to do something – perhaps to buy milk once you get near the local shop.
This can sync with iCal or with Microsoft exchange to keep all your reminders up-to-date.
6 – Camera update
Apple has made some – much needed – improvements to its camera, including the ability to take a picture with the volume up button on the iPhone 4.
Apple has also promised it will work faster, with a shortcut from the lock screen included to help prevent all that fumbling around when you need to capture the moment. You won’t need to input your password to take a picture, although your pictures will be locked until you do.
Other improvements include the ability to pinch to zoom in the camera function and edit the pictures directly on the device once they are taken.
7 – Mail update
Apple has made a raft of improvements to its email client, adding rich text formatting, draggable addresses, indentation control, flagging and the ability to search through entire messages.
The Mail app also includes a new dictionary that will be usable across all apps. This will help you spell check, as well as giving the option to define highlighted words.
8 – PC Free
As Apple put it, it has ‘cut the cord’, no longer needing a PC to set-up your iPhone or iPad. This also means that all updates will now be done over-the-air, without the need to plug your iPhone into iTunes. Updates will also be smaller ‘delta-updates’ meaning they only contain what is different – rather than a complete version of the operating system.
9 – Game Center (sic)
Achievement points are being introduced to Game Center so gamers can now compare how they perform against each other. There will also be new ways of finding and connecting to your friends, as well as recommending games to each other.
10 – iMessage
If iOS 5′s new notifications system is a step-child of Android’s, iMessage is virtually a blood relative of BlackBerry’s BBM. An instant messaging system capable of sharing text, photos, videos and contacts – iMessage works across all iOS devices and offers delivery reports, optional read reports and typing notifications.
It works over 3G and wi-fi, all the messages are encrypted and users can easily swap between the conversation on their iPhone and iPad (if they really had that much money to throw Apple’s way).
We weren’t treated to a full run-down, but other features include auto-backup with iTunes and multi-tasking gestures (literally flicking between apps).
Apple also introduced its new cloud service iCloud. This replaces MobileMe and instead of costing a yearly subscription, will be free.
Aiming to keep all your devices in sync, iCloud will automatically load files into the cloud and then push them out to other connected devices. For instance, if you add a contact on your iPhone, this will then be uploaded to the cloud and sent to your contact list on your iPad and Apple Mac (again assuming you only buy your electronics from Apple).
This system works for email and calendars, giving you to opportunity to upload a shared family event to the cloud and it to be pushed to other connected devices.
Other apps that include support for iCloud include the App Store, Documents in the cloud, photo stream and iTunes in the cloud.
This means that apps, documents, photos and music can quickly and easily be shared between devices.
iCloud will come free with the iOS 5 update expected in Autumn.
Not wanting anyone with a large CD collection to be left out, Apple has also come up with iTunes Match. This matches all the music you have ripped from CDs onto your hard drive and then downloads it to the rest of your devices. All these songs will then have the same benefits as the music you have downloaded from iTunes and be shared using iCloud.
But don’t get too excited about this one just yet, so far there’s only word of a US launch with an accompanying yearly fee of $24.99.
Apple also unveiled the details of its latest Mac OS X operating system for its computers, Lion. For more information about this, check out the story on which.co.uk.
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