Heralded by rapturous applause, Apple CEO Steve Jobs kicked off the 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday with a marathon two-hour keynote speech in which he and several other top Apple executives introduced Mac OS X Lion, iCloud and iOS 5.
As mobile fans, it was both iOS 5 and iCloud which interested us the most, and here we’re going to give you an introduction to what the next version of their mobile OS will be like. With 1500 new APIs and 200 new features, iOS 5 is a major revision, and here are ten of the most exciting changes the software will bring:
Currently, the notification system in iOS is – and let’s be honest here – rubbish, but that’s set to change in iOS 5. Notification Center is a hub for all your alerts and is accessed by swiping down on the screen, then tapping to enter the relevant app. Alerts are delivered in a small box on screen – something described as being similar to Game Center’s achievements – and can be ignored or accessed with a swipe. Notification Center will support everything from missed calls to app alerts and calendar events.
In addition to tabbed browsing, Safari will get a couple of new features. First we’ve got Safari Reader, which re-formats web pages to make them easier to read, and second is Reading List, a Read-it-Later-style system for saving interesting articles to read another time. This syncs across all your iOS devices too.
The social network is about to become an integral part of iOS, where it’ll be possible to sign-in inside the Settings app and tweet from stock apps such as Photos, Safari, YouTube and even Maps. This feature will be supported with a developer API, so expect it to feature in new apps too.
This IM-style function is built-in to Messages and allows you to contact another iOS 5 user to chat or exchange media files. It’ll work over 3G or Wi-Fi and messages will be pushed to devices, so a conversation can easily be maintained; something made even easier by read receipts and a typing indicator to see when someone’s typing a reply.
Two unexpected, but very welcome, changes will be coming to the iPhone’s camera in iOS 5. The first is the addition of a Windows Phone-alike access button on the lock screen, so the camera can be used without unlocking and selecting the app; and second is that the volume-up button will become the shutter release! The camera screen will have an optional grid for perfect shot composition, locking focus and a selection of simple image editing tools.
In iOS 5, you’ll be able to add a photo to your profile, recommend and download games in the app, see friends of friends and also play turn-based games in Game Center itself.
Any new device running iOS 5 won’t need to be plugged into a computer to get started, as everything can be carried out from a new Welcome screen. This continues once the phone is up and running too, as updates will come in smaller files and be delivered over-the-air.
The revamped email app has rich text formatting, enhancements for Enterprise, message search and draggable addresses. On the iPad you’ll be able to swipe your inbox out from the side of the screen, and the keyboard can be split into two halves to make thumb-only typing easier and more natural.
A newspaper and magazine-specific application along the same lines as iBooks, with background updates for all the publications you’ve subscribed to, plus offline support.
A new task manager with groups, multiple tasks, prioritisation, due-dates and even location-based reminders which activate when you arrive at a pre-set destination.
This is just a taste of what iOS 5 contains – a presentation slide teased some of the other features such as hourly weather updates, real-time stock prices, AirPlay mirroring, alternate routes in Maps and a new iPod music app.
As this was just a preview, we’ve got to be patient for iOS 5′s release and Apple would only say it’ll be with us sometime this autumn. When it does land, it’s going to be compatible with the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, the iPad and iPad 2, plus the 4th Generation iPod Touch.