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Apple unveils iOS 5: 200 new features, 10 big ones

In San Francisco, at Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, Steve Jobs arrived on-stage to an ovation. Applemania was in full effect. This was their keynote. We’ve heard the rumours, now we’re ready for the nitty gritty.

Software “is the soul”; he told the sell-out keynote audience. After covering the Mac-based Lion OS, he went onto iOS. Like most Apple presentations, they started with the numbers.

With over 200 million iOS devices sold to date, it’s branded itself the number one mobile OS, with 44% of the market.. (We need references. good man.) There’s now more than 425,000 apps, and 90,000 dedicated iPad versions.

Now, welcome iOS 5, and first it’s notifications. An obvious addition that draws back a great feature already found on Android phones.

Apple are calling it Notification Center, which looks set to combine all your notifications in a single list.

You can scroll down to view them, whilst swiping across will launch straight into said app, messenger, email .etc. All of this can be seen from the lock screen. It’ll be interesting to see how this combines with keycode locked phones, all in a stainless steel-ish style. Phone, FaceBook and message were all shown in the demonstration.

The second feature, Newsstand aims to unify all sorts of subscription content, magazine and newspapers. Issues will be auto-updated on the stand, whilst issues can be downloaded in the background. (Finally!) It all looks a lot like iBooks.

Next is the expected Twitter integration. Apple has chosen to go the Twitter route, rather than deeper connections with FaceBook.

Any Twitter-based apps, it will ask for your Twitter ID, and you’re sorted. It will now be embedded into the camera and photos, with the ability to add locations too. You can also connect Twitter IDs with phonebook contacts, and tweet from Safari and even YouTube. It all looks both broad and deeply integrated.

Apple’s internet browser, Safari, also got a ream of new features.

Reader on iOS Safari will take the page you’re looking at and convert it into text-only, which should make it much easier to read. It’ll also stitch together multi-page articles. Second,  a feature to rival Android’s Instapaper, Reading List can sync across your Apple goodies,

Tabbed internet browsing has arrived too. Shown on the iPad you can now visibly see the tabs above the page you’re currently browsing. It’s looks like changing between tabs is super-slick.

There were also a few surprises. iOS will bring Reminders, allowing you to store dates, and even locations to nudge your memory, utilising the GPS functions. You can even connect these reminders with Windows through Exchange.

The camera on iOS 5 will be getting a rejuice- they’ll work faster and there’s now a lock-screen shortcut next to the unlock switch for speedy snappage. Passcodes be damned, you can enter then after a few photos. The volume up key will also double as a shutter button. Clever double use, while pinch-to-zoom will also get added.

Editing your photos can also be done on their in-house camera app, with additional one-click enhancements like red-eye reduction.

Email on the iPhone gets the ability to search the entire contents of your mail (including the body). You’ll also be able to flag emails. The iPad will get a swipe-to-inbox function to make the best use of all that touchscreen.
Both will benefit from a built-in dictionary, something that Macs have had for a while. Highlight a word, and you’ll find a define option alongside copy.

Several new variant keyboards allow the iPhone to catch-up on some of the keyboard customisations Android fans have boasted of. A dual-thumb keyboard was demoed at the the keybote speech.

No PC needed. It’s a biggie. There will now be no need that irritating connect to iTunes logo- it;s work out of the box, with any future updates arriving over the air (OTA) on your wireless connection.

The Game Center, with 50 million users, is announced as the most popular gaming platform in the world. 50 million users!

Now you’ll be able to add photos, and compare your gaming vital statistics with friends, and even get recommended ‘friends’.

Chasing those BBM addicts, iMessage will allow messenging between any iOS user, that means iPad and iPod users too! Between devices, all messages will be pushed around, meaning you can pick up where you left off. You’ll also be able to send photos, videos, contacts, and other options like delivery receipts are also bundled in. Apple has gone for BlackBerry jugular.

In an Android-esque move, any received messages can be read whilst in other apps. You’ll be able to write a reply, then jump straight back into any video you’re watching or game you’re playing.

Multitasking is here- and it’s the real deal. Not more suspended apps, you can flick between them effortlessly, and they didn’t even go into “over 200 new features”  that will also arrive with the new iOS. Some flashed on the presentation screen include emoticons- perfect for the new iMessage- hourly weather updates, multitouch gestures- and more.

Good news; it’ll be running on the iPhone, from 3GS up, both iPads and iPod Touch 3rd generation and up. Wowser. Arriving Autumn 2011. Excited?


Photo Credits: TechCrunch and Engadget


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