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iOS 5 announced: Breakdown of features

It comes as no surprise that Steve Jobs today took the stage to announce the next generation operating system for iOS devices, better known as iOS 5. There are currently over 200 million iOS devices in the global market, so there are a lot of people interested in what is coming next, and if it will be available for their device.

Apple iOS 5

iOS 5 availability

According to todays announcment iOS 5 will be available globally sometime this fall for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2, and fourth-generation iPod Touch owners. So good news for iPhone 3GS owners in getting support for iOS 5, and possibly another indication that the iPhone 5 might be coming this fall together with iOS 5.

Here is the breakdown of some of the more important amongst the 200 or so new iOS 5 features.

Wireless updates – cable no longer needed

Do you keep loosing your cable or just bored of having to connect your iOS device to a computer all the time to sync, then you will be happy to hear that iOS 5 brings OTE (Over The Air) updates to devices.

As Steve Jobs said it; “We are living in a post PC world”. If you have a new iOS device you no longer have to connect it to a computer to start using it, and you can get updates wirelessly through what Apple calls Delta Updates.

Notification Center

If you are among the many that does  not like the current notification system on the iPhone/iPad that interrupts you in what you are doing, you will be happy to hear that Apple has sorted this issue out with the launch of the iOS 5 Notification Center.

iOS 5 notofication center

The Notification Center will collect all your notifications in one place and you can get to it from anywhere by simply swiping your finger down from the top to reveal it. Looks like Apple has nabbed a trick from Android there.

It actually looks like Apple has bought Mobile Notifier by Peter Hajas, a jailbreak app for notifications. Mr Hajas is now working for Apple. Nice one Apple!

News Stand for newspapers and magazines

Apple has now joined all periodicals under one roof in the App Store so there is no longer a need to download each individually as an app. Newsstand is a direct line between magazines and newspapers to the iOS device, meaning if there is a new version out it will automatically become available for you to read in the Newsstand. You can even read it offline.

iOS 5 newsstand app

Twitter integration

Another rumor confirmed as Apple showcases the new Twitter integration in iOS 5.

On the setting screen you can now input your Twitter username and password, allowing you to instantly share a photo for example just like you would send it using SMS or email as the tweet option is added to actions. It is also integrated into Safari for automatically sharing websites on Twitter, and for videos on YouTube, directions and businesses on Maps, and you can even tweet contacts.

Twitter integration on iOS 5

The Twitter integration leaves me with one big question though; will it allow for use of multiple Twitter accounts? Based on the screenshots it looks like it will as there is an additional ‘add account’ link under the first registered account.

Reminders: To-do lists and events

With Reminders you can easily keep track of your to-do lists and things to be accomplished , allowing you to create lists of things to do and assign dates and as well as locations to the reminders, so it will actually remind you when you have reached your location.

Reminders will sync with calDAV and iCal.

Camera app upgrade: volume button for images

The new Camera functionality was amongst the features that got the most applause during the iOS 5 announcement as it finally brings a physical button for taking pictures when the Camera app is open in the volume buttons.

iOS 5 physical camera button

Coming soon you will have a lock-screen shortcut for taking photos in iOS 5, taking you straight to the camera app and allowing you to use the volume up button to take pictures.

Other additions are abilities to easily edit photos , including cropping, quick enhance, and red eye reduction.

Safari gets tabs and reader

Safari is getting tabbed interface for the iPad, making it more similar to Safari on the Mac, and also the Reader functionality found on the Mac, allowing you to easily strip away all the junk and see only text and photos.

Keyboard split for thumb-typing

If you are a thumb-typer than you will be happy to hear that Apple has added a split keyboard functionality in iOS 5. There are some handle symbols that will appear, allowing you to drag each side of the keyboard up and to the side to split it.

iMessage – messaging between iOS users

Free messaging between devices has long been a stronghold for Blackberry, that is until today when Apple announced the iMessage service.

iOS 5 iMessage

The new iMessage service that will be available across all iOS devices in iOS 5 is a secure message service allowing you to send text, photos, videos, or even contacts between iOS users or groups. There are delivery and optional read receipts, and typing notifications so you can see when someone is writing a message. Messages gets pushed to all your devices so you can pick up a conversation started on your iPhone on your iPad later.

How many Blackberry users do you think will reconsider the iPhone now?

Other features

Some of the other new features include:

  • Airplay mirroring that allows you to mirror your iPad 2 to the television wirelessly
  • Wi-Fi sync to iTunes opening for your iOS device to find your iTunes and automatically back up and sync
  • New multitasking gestures to flick between apps
  • Improved game center with recommended friends, games recommendation tool, and support for turn-based games
  • Universal dictionary support

We will be back with more on the new features of iOS 5 later.

Here is a video introduction to iOS 5 features from Apple.

[images: screenshots from Apple.com]

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