This one's definitely in the "catching up with the competition" category: iOS notifications are currently super annoying. If you're in an app, they interrupt what you're doing. If you see a group of them on your home screen, that list disappears when you unlock the device. No more.

The Notification Center, invoked by a downward swipe from the top of the screen, groups all of your notifications from all of your apps together into one place, and lets you clear them away at your own pace. When you're in another app, new notifications appear at the top of the screen so that you know they're there, but you don't have to stop what you're doing to attend to them unless you want to. Clicking a notification will take you to the app that generated it.

Next up is Newsstand, which takes an iBooks-like approach to managing your digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions. It also increases the visibility of digital publications by grouping them together in one place away from the rest of the apps in the App Store. I'll be interested to see whether this increased visibility will result in higher sales for these publications, as those have been slow by most accounts. Newsstand also supports background downloads of your subscriptions, which can be read offline - no more having to open an app to trigger content updates.

Twitter integration is also coming to iOS 5 - this is going to be a love-it-or-don’t-care-about-it feature, depending on how addicted to Twitter you are. Twitter is now an integrated app that supports single sign-on at setup, and any app setup to take advantage of it can now post to Twitter without invoking the app itself. You can share pictures using Camera and Photos, you can tweet pages from Safari, videos from YouTube, and you can also store peoples’ Twitter information in your Contacts list. It's a pretty impressive list if you're a Twitter user, and while most platforms sport an official Twitter app at this point, none of them can boast such deep integration with the service.

Speaking of Safari, it's also getting a sizable face-lift thanks to its new, fully-tabbed interface (that, ironically, makes it look more like the Mac version of the browser). This brings it more in line with the Android Honeycomb browser, which impressed us when we reviewed it on the Motorola Xoom. Another Safari feature of note is the Reading List, which allows you to mark webpages to be read later. This is kept separate from your Bookmarks, which is a list of sites you want to access on a more permanent basis. Your Reading List will sync between iOS, Mac, and Windows copies of Safari associated with your Apple ID, meaning that pages you add on your iPhone while riding the train will be waiting for you when you get home and boot up your Mac.

Coming in at number five is Reminders, which allows you to store reminders on your phone and have the phone remind you to do them at certain times or when you arrive at a certain location. The former is something you can do just as easily using the built-in Calendar app, but the latter is sort of neat - you could, for example, have the phone set to remind you to get the mail when it sees that you've gotten home from work, which (like many technical innovations) is sort of cool and scary at the same time. Reminders will sync with calDAV/iCal and also Exchange.

Supported Devices and Availability Camera, Mail, PC Free, Game Center, iMessage, and Conclusions


View All Comments

  • synaesthetic - Monday, June 6, 2011 - link

    With wifi and Dropbox I haven't actually connected my Glacier to my laptop in months. Not since I first rooted it and loaded the sdcard with my tunes. Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    Well, it's not a bad list of updates and new features, but just about every single one of them has been copied from Android / WebOS or an existing app/service (even if it was a jailbreak/Cydia app)... I kind of expected something more revolutionary from Apple and a big software-focused launch, even if it was just their own unique take on something already implemented elsewhere.

    As it is, much of the new stuff is implemented almost exactly the same way it's been done elsewhere... Only difference is that it's all bundled in w/the OS instead of maybe needing a couple separate app to get the same functionality (I'm sure the developers of Read It Later and others aren't particularly thrilled!). The cloud stuff is probably the most unique or centralized, particularly w/regards to iTunes, even tho their comparison to Amazon's pricing was somewhat disingenuous.

    Amazon's MP3 Android app allows streaming from the cloud to any device, something it doesn't seem Apple's gonna be doing (RIP Lala :-/ ), and Apple neglects to mention you get 5GB for free (and 20GB for the price of any album right now, or $20 in the future, there's more tiers than the $50 tier that Apple singles out). They do lack the track matching tho. I've got around 200 ripped CDs and even in FLAC it's not more than 40GB, in VBR MP3 it's likely less than 15GB.

    They could still surprise people w/the hardware end of their next release tho, since they've pushed it back until Fall and all... And they pretty much know what all the Android manufacturers are doing for the rest of the year (and WP7 or HP aren't moving any faster). Either way the improvements on iOS 5 are gonna be a hit w/existing iPhone users for sure, I'm not sure it'll win them any more tho... But they've got plenty of time to hype up every last bit of it before it launches, heh.
  • Ikefu - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    Every last thing here is an attempt to steal something someone else is already doing and call it "new and innovative". Stealing BlackBerry messenger, Xbox Live, Android/BB mail and notifications, etc. They are all very welcome updates but hardly innovative.

    I hereby dub iOS 5 the "ME TOO!" update.

    PS I also object to calling the iPhone a gaming device. Its cool and I have an iTouch 4 with some games on it, but until it gets a thumbstick and input buttons it will never be a gaming device in my book.
  • xype - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    "I hereby dub iOS 5 the "ME TOO!" update."

    Did you dub Android the "ME TOO!" OS, too, when it came out? :)
  • erple2 - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    Yes, but I also dubbed the first Apple phone as "me too" based on my experience with a Treo and blackberry.

    When does the madness end? It can't.
  • Griswold - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    Why, because Apple invented mobile OS'? Newsflash, there have been mobile OS' long before Apple turned into a smartphone company. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    Since when is an ipad capable of playing videos? It still cannot play xvid/divx files in an avi container, right? And even if it could, I cant load them onto it because it doesnt have a freakin usb port. And how are you supposed to download youtube videos? Is there a downloadhelper app that actually works? Will there ever ever be one? And no I am not converting a video just to watch it on an ipad. Anyone who does that ought to give all their money and their house to apple and go jump off a cliff because they are retarded. Reply
  • Ozymandias# - Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - link

    Well... Ever since there are at least 10 video players capable of doing that in the App Store. And if you want to download youtube videos, there are apps that can do that as well.

    And as far as loading your videos, you can use DropBox, or a dozen other similar apps, or iTunes, or iCloud when it will be released.

    But I don't even do that. I prefer to stream the videos from my PC with AirVideo. It's easier.

    Please check before trashing a whole platform you have obviouly never even tried.
  • linlijunoo - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - link

    The website whol esale for many kinds of fas hion sho es,
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  • jdonker - Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - link

    Until Apple give in and incorporate flash compatability into their devices the iphone, ipod touch and ipad will all be inferior browsing devices.

    Fix this first!

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