Apple iOS 5 review round up

Reviews Richard Goodwin 17:06, 7 Jun 2011

We take a look at the initial perceptions of Apple’s newly announced iOS 5 from some of our favourite publications. Is Apple on to a winner with iOS 5 and iCloud? We investigate

Apple smashed WWDC 2011 last night (6pm UK time), confirming a trio of software updates: iOS 5, iCloud and OS X Lion for Mac PCs.

We live blogged the event and were extremely impressed, once again, by Apple’s vision and innovation.

iOS 5 and iCloud take everything to the cloud, negating the need for a PC and seamlessly link all your iDevices.

As we said, we were very impressed – as were a lot of other publications. But what is the general feeling amongst other writers, speculators, commentators and analysts who have managed to get their hands on iOS 5 already?

Generally speaking, it seems to be pretty positive. But this is to be expected. There are, after all, some 200 new features present inside of iOS 5, which is impressive by anyone’s standards.

But the big question on our lips is this: has Apple done enough with iOS 5 and iCloud to give Google something to seriously worry about? Lets find out. 

Notification Center
First up is the one feature everyone was hoping for: an updated notifications system. This new alerts system is now called Notification Center and can be accessed anywhere within iOS 5.

‘Notification Center provides iOS 5 users with an innovative way to easily access all notifications – text messages, missed calls, calendar alerts, app alerts and more, all in one place, from anywhere in iOS 5,’ says Apple.

Sounds good. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? According to Engadget, ‘Apple has taken the Android approach in iOS 5, and has made a home for all notifications in a drawer that is toggled by a swipe down from the top of the screen.’

 

Obviously, this a big improvement on Apple’s notifications system of old and while it is only in beta mode at present, Engadget is quick to point out that it’s ‘so much better than what we had before.’

But it doesn’t end there. Users of iOS 5 will also be able to customise ‘how notifications in Notification Center look,’ says BGR. What this means is that you can basically set how many new notifications will display in your Notification Center app.

There are also no more ugly notifications boxes either. All notifications, texts, emails, tweets, now appear at the top of the display in a banner mode, which when pulled down can display up to 15 notifications.

‘The best thing Apple did was create a centralized notification center within the Settings,’ says Gizmodo. ‘This one section lets you customize the notifications for each app.’ Another nice addition iOS 5’s notification system is the ability to view stuff via a drop down tray, which ‘will be very familiar to Android users as their notification system works in a similar way,’ concludes Gizmodo.

All in all, this is extremely positive stuff, which basically means Apple has finally sorted out its notifications system once and for all.

Twitter
Apple (in a move which no one saw coming) decided to integrate Twitter deep into the fabric of iOS 5. What this means is that users can now tweet, send pictures and link web pages straight to their Twitter accounts from within iOS 5. In short, this pretty much negates the need for third party Twitter apps on the iOS platform, which was no doubt rather alarming news for some select Twitter developers.

But is it easy to use, or will you be better off sticking to your third party applications? According to Gizmodo, it’s pretty straightforward to set up and use, as all you’ve got to do is ‘add your Twitter credentials into the Settings and tweet directly from Apple's native applications like Safari or photos.’

 

Engadget concurs, lauding the iOS 5’s Twitter integration as ‘really slick.’ Users can also add multiple accounts as well, according to Engadget’s test, which means you can have one for work and a personal one too – not bad. We expected Apple to omit this aspect on the first run of iOS 5. We were wrong.

iOS 5 will also link your Twitter contacts up to your Contacts list as well, although during Engadget’s testing it was only able to match 66 of 200 followers. No doubt this issue will be ironed out once iOS 5 goes gold.

Imagining
Not many people expected a big camera update from Apple with iOS 5, but that’s not the case. Apple has done a serious overhaul of the camera and its features with iOS 5.

For starters, ‘the iPhone gets an option to lock focus and exposure by holding down on a part of the image,’ which is a very cool addition to any iDevice’s imagining capabilities.

Then there’s the inclusion of enhanced Zoom controls, which are now ‘activated via pinch-to-zoom,’ says Engadget. But perhaps the coolest new addition is the ability to use the volume rocker as a physical shutter key to take photos – very nice, indeed.

‘The Camera app received a lot of love from Apple in iOS 5,’ says Gizmodo. Couple this with the ‘very cool’ feature of being able to access the camera from the lock screen via a double tap of the Home button and you have one seriously cool camera application awaiting you in iOS 5.

Safari
Next up is Safari, which now supports tabbed browsing, a built in Reader application and a whole host of new features that should reinvent they way you use a mobile browser.

According to Gizmodo, ‘Just like the desktop version of Safari, the iPad version displays all your open pages in tabs.’ Apple has also added the ability to ‘drag the tabs around to rearrange them.’ At present, it looks like your limited to nine tabs within iOS 5’s Safari app.

Whether this will change in later iterations remains to be seen, but we think nine is decent enough – no one multitasks that much.

 

The Safari app in iOS 5 ‘looks virtually identical to the tab layout in Safari on Mac (or PC),’ says Engadget. This has been done, no doubt, to take advantage of the iPad’s larger display – as well as deliver a blow to Android 3.1’s greatly improved stock browser.

Apple has also opted to move its Safari Reader feature on its iOS platform. What Reader does is strip out ‘all the nasty formatting from webpages and leaves you with raw text and images,’ says Engadget. ‘It's disturbingly similar to Instapaper, and yet another common feature that can't be ignored,’ – make of that what you will.

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