The PhoneBoy Blog


Simplifying Telecom, Mobile Phones, Gadgets, and More!

My Thoughts on iOS 5

I figured I’d let some of the hoopla die down a bit before I offered my thoughts on Apple’s latest iteration of their mobile OS: iOS 5. It was officially released to the world on 12 October 2011 via iTunes, though the so-called “Golden Master” was released to developers (and consequently on Bittorrent) a week before.

The bottom line: if you have an unjailbroken iPhone 3GS or later: you should definitely upgrade. If you’ve dipped your toes in the jailbreak waters or, worse yet, used Ultrasn0w to unlock, you should likely avoid it unless you research very carefully.

I haven’t done a full analysis of the new features, but I can tell you what I’ve noticed. Note this is on an iPhone 3GS and an iPad 2. Your mileage may vary.

Notifications

Honestly, this was seriously broken before iOS 5. Popups are not an effective way of handling things. Especially for all applications. Now most notifications live in a tray that you pull down from the top, very similar to how it works in Android. You can configure what apps will show there and in what order. I like it better than how Android does it, though, because I get more information to boot and can easily clear individual application notifications. You can also configure which applications use the more traditional popup notifications versus the ones that live in the notification tray.

The Lock Screen

In addition to the notification tray, missed call and text notifications appear on your lock screen. There’s also a “camera” button that I’ve seen appear as well so you can activate the camera without unlocking. That said, I cannot get this to appear consistently on the lock screen.

The Camera App

The camera app has been improved with auto-focus and auto-exposure lock. You can also do minor photo editing: cropping, red-eye removal, an “auto-enhance” mode, and photo rotation. Not nearly as full featured as, say, Camera+ (which is still a great app) but good enough for me to revert back to the standard Camera app for most of my day-to-day use.

iCloud

Finally it is now possible to own and activate an iPhone, iPod Touch, or an iPad without a computer. This is due, in large part, to iCloud. Applications, their data, contacts, calendars, and device photos can be stored and/or retrieved “from the cloud.” You can even do firmware updates from the cloud as well.

Of course, with multiple iOS devices, I quickly ran into the “free” 5GB data limit. You can buy more, of course, or you can choose not to backup application data for some applications like I did. Or you can choose not to use iCloud at all.

iMessage

While I’ve tried to use things like TextPlus and Google Voice, they both leave something to be desired: they don’t “just work.” Neither will do text messages to international numbers unless those people sign up for the service.

iMessage just works. I just try and send a text as normal from the Messages app. If the person is using an iOS 5 device (and it can tell either by email address or phone number that I’ve already got configured for the user), it automatically is sent over iMessage, which is faster and cheaper than a conventional SMS. I can send text or pictures. It’s totally transparent to me other than the fact the text bubbles are in blue rather than green.

This is Apple’s answer to Blackberry Messenger except this just works without exchanging anything you don’t already have. I used it with a number of people–in some cases, not deliberately as I had no idea they used iOS 5 devices. It just worked as advertised. It’s hard to beat that.

Newsstand

I like the idea behind newsstand–put all your electronic periodicals in one place–but until applications are updated for it, your newsstand will look kind of empty. Mine only has the Wired app in it. It would be nice if I could also put, say, Instapaper or Flipboard in it, but alas, I cannot. I also cannot move the Newsstand icon into a folder. Very irritating.

Twitter Integration

Something else that came as part of iOS 5: Integration with Twitter. You can not only tweet pictures from the photos and camera app, but other Twitter apps can make use of your Twitter credentials stored in iOS as well. You can also update your contact pictures with information from Twitter.

The only annoying part is you need to have Twitter’s official app installed to use these features. I personally don’t use that app. I prefer Tweetbots, instead.

Summary

I know there’s a lot more features to iOS. I’m only scratching the surface, but these are the things I’ve used so far. What are your favorite iOS 5 features?


C-List #Cybersecurity Celebrity, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.