iOS 5 has 1,500 new APIs and over 200 new features, but today Apple showed us the 10 key features of the new software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The Notification Center feature alone will make your iPhone or iPad feel like a new device. The developer version of iOS 5 is available today, and the software will be available to consumers October 12. Here's a quick look at the top new features.
1. Notification Center and Smarter Lock Screen
100 billion push notifications and counting tells you that iOS's notification system has scaled well, but they interrupt you and they're not persistent. With the new Notification Center in iOS 5, you'll be able to swipe a finger down from the top of screen at any time on any screen. You close the Center by swiping up, and you can easily dismiss individual notifications with a tap. The new lock screen in iOS 5 can take you to the app that shows you the notification. This works for anything from Facebook updates to text messages.
There's a one-stop shop in iOS 5 called Newsstand, where you can download all of your favorite magazines and newspapers. Newsstand supports background downloads so you can wake up with the latest issue. Titles include Popular Science, Esquire, Wired, Golf Digest, New Yorker, Oprah, New York times, and more. And because Newsstand supports subscriptions instead of just single-copy sales, we think a lot more publishers will be jumping on board.
iOS 5 is getting social with Twitter. A single sign-on gets you set up, and you never need to log-in again. Twitter lets you share photos and optionally add your location. You can also tweet articles from the web, videos from YouTube, and info from the Maps apps. Integration also includes contacts, which will automatically update your photos.
Yes, tabbed browsing is here! The new Safari for iOS 5 finally supports tabs, and from the looks of the demo we saw at WWDC, switching between them is fast. An all-new Reader feature gives you the full view of a story, with a single clean scrolling view so you don't have to click through multiple pages. Plus, you can e-mail the contents of the story this way, not just the link. The Reading List feature lets you save a story to read it later. This syncs up with Safari on the iPad and Safari on Mac and Windows, so you can continue reading on another device.
This fall your iOS 5 device will be able to remind you what to do with the new Reminders app. You can even set up a geofence so your phone can remind you something when you're leaving a place (like Pick up Flowers!) or arriving somewhere. This is very handy for forgetful people who are always in a rush. You can view reminders by date, and everything syncs with iCloud so all your iOS devices will stay up to date.
6. Camera and Photos
iOS 5 should make shutterbugs happy. You'll be able to open the camera right from the lock screen. You can also use the volume up button to take a picture. Plus, there are now optional grid lines to compose your photo and pinch to zoom in the camera for zooming. If you set your finger over a part of the scene, iOS 5 will set AE/AF lock. iOS 5 also lets you edit photos right on the iPhone and iPad. This includes crop, rotate, red-eye reduction, and auto-enhance.
You can finally search the entire contents of all of your messages in the new Mail app for iOS 5. Other features include indentation control, flagging of messages, and the ability to swipe to get to your inbox from the home screen. You can also grab an e-mail address of a contact and move it from the To field to CC or BCC field. The keyboard can even be split on the iPad for easier thumb typing, similar to Windows 8.
8. PC Free: No Syncing Required
When you set up your iOS 5 device, you won't need to hook it up to a PC. Everything takes place on the iPhone and iPad itself. You'll also get over-the-air updates, even incremental ones, without having to physically sync. PC Free in iOS 5 also means wireless iTunes syncing via iCloud, which means if you purchase content on your iPad you'll be able to play it on your iPhone or iPod touch.
9. Game Center
There's 50 million Game Center users, which is about 20 million better than Xbox Live. And Apple is hoping to get more of you using Game Center on a regular basis. With iOS 5, you can post profile pictures, get new friend recommendations based on the games you play, and discover new games. Overall achievement scores allow you to better match yourself up with similarly skilled foes.
iOS has never had an answer to RIM's BBM, but now it does. iMessage supports iPhone, iPad, iPod touch. (What, no Mac OS X Lion?) Users can send text, photos, and video, and iMessage supports group messages. There's delivery receipts, read receipts, and typing indications (so you know the other person is talking) represented by three little dots. Messages are pushed to all iOS devices at once if you have more than one iOS gadget. Too bad iMessage and FaceTime aren't integrated. At least not yet.