Apple apes Android for official iOS 5 unveiling
6th Jun 2011 | 17:52
Giving your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad a much-needed reboot
Apple has officially unveiled iOS 5, offering loads of new features that seem a little similar to Google's Android UI.
The first update is for notifications, with push notifications now aggregated in a pull-down menu available at the top of the screen... much like the system used for Android. This is also accessible from the lock screen, with a simple swipe gesture taking you straight to the relevant app.
These notifications will pop up at the top of the display in full-screen mode, but are not persistent, meaning they'll dismiss themselves after a few seconds if you're too into your current Words with Friends war.
If all these pesky words are too much for you, why not try the snazzy video run-down of the new features that our colleagues over at T3 have put together:
Bouncing onto the News Stand
Magazines are going to get their own section of the new iOS 5 launch, bringing with it a dedicated home screen pop-up from the app icon.
This means that your new subscriptions are automatically downloaded to the phone and available offline, with more titles being announced each day.
Apple clearly thinks Twitter has become mainstream enough to be part of its iFamily, with a 'one click' option for applications to let you use Twitter functionality.
All you'll need to do is sign in through the Settings menu and any app can request integration with your Twitter account, meaning no more constant signing in to every new application you download - meaning Twitter is set for a big boost in app love.
Twitter will get some strong integration across the iOS device, with the ability to Tweet from the Camera, Photos, Safari and Maps applications - and like Android, Twitter contacts can be added into the Contacts menu.
Safari Reader - nothing but the words
Safari has been given some big upgrade love with the new iOS 5 - the big one being the new Safari Reader.
This function lives in the address bar, and turns any web page into a long column of text for easier parsing. This text can then be emailed in its entirety, in a move that will please website owners the world over.
Tabbed browsing is now supported too, as a feature that will probably suit iPad users more than iPhone ones, and Tweeting directly from the browser is now supported too.
Reminders might not seem like much of an update for iOS 5 - after all, it's just prettier versions of lists of things you have to do.
But add in things like time, date and location notifications (meaning you can set up a 'geofence' according to Apple that will prod you to do something when you leave a certain zone) and you can see this is something that might actually add in some cool functionality - plus it will sync across other apps like iCal.
Apple is claiming that its camera is one of the most oft-used pieces of hardwaer on sites like Flickr, and has updated the functionality accordingly.
The big one is the addition of a camera icon on the lock screen, meaning you can shave all-important seconds off the snapping time if you see something you want to capture.
Plus you can use the volume up button to take pictures. We know, a dedicated camera button for the iPhone! Wishes clearly DO come true.
Extra photo editing software for easy cropping and enhancement has been added in to iOS 5, and pinching to zoom will, well, zoom in on photos when you're trying to capture the perfect pic.
Next up in the Apple iOS overhaul is the Mail application - with new elements like draggable addresses so you can pop them across from To to Cc to Bcc.
Flagging and full-searchable messages have been added in too, plus rich text formatting for easier interaction with your e-mails.
A built in dictionary makes it easier to keep your spelling under control, and for the iPad thumb users: a split keyboard.
Simply grabbing it with your thumbs and sliding upwards will split it in two, making it easier to tap out the emails more speedily.
Updates go computer-free
That's right - Apple is cutting the cord and taking the computer out of the equation with the new iOS 5 update. You won't need to tether your phone or iPad straight after purchase any more, and all updates will be delivered over the air.
Apple claims this is because many users just want to use the iPad as their primary computing device, so interacting with the Calendar or Photos is now all done on device if you so wish - with wireless iTunes syncing on offer too.
Game Center gets all social
Ever wanted more friends to play with? Well, Apple is pushing the notion of friend discovery with the Game Center update, offering you the chance to see the scores of friends' friends too.
Gamer profiles have been updated to include photos as well, plus turn-based gaming is baked right into the application for more responsive gaming.
You can also purchase games directly from the Center, and Apple is claiming over 50 million users already, with achievement points added in - directly competing with the likes of Xbox (which got a sneaky mention for having fewer users on Xbox Live despite being around for eight years).
BBM? No, it's iMessage
The final flourish from Apple with the new iOS 5 is the addition of iMessage, a BlackBerry Messenger-a-like application that lets you send messages to other iOS users.
The new application supports a multitude of features, including the ability to send pictures, videos or contacts, and also start a group message too.
Real-time notifications mean you won't have to wait to see if someone is bothering to reply to your missives, and read receipts mean the lazy among us have lost the 'oh, I didn't see it' excuse now.
Apple is promising hundreds of new features with the new iOS 5 unveiling, with the likes of full iPad TV mirroring without wires and new gestures to flick between applications on offer too.
iOS 5 release date
So the important question: when is the new iOS 5 going to be launched? If you're a developer, it's good news - the iOS 5 SDK is available now and being seeded as you read this.
Other users will have to hunker down and wait for a bit unfortunately, with Apple offering an Autumn (or 'Fall' if you love US speak) release date for the new iOS 5.