Apple has unveiled the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 5, releasing a beta version to iOS developer progam members. It includes over 200 new features that will be available to the iPhone 3 and 4, iPad and iPod touch users this Spring.
Other new features include, Notification Center, which lets you easily view and manage notifications in one place without interruption and Newsstand, a new way to purchase and organise your newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
In what was a rare appearance by Apple’s head honcho at the WWDC, Steve Jobs introduced the new operating system to developers both to address old complaints and to “see what our developers do with its 1,500 new APIs” in a new Post PC world that now has the benefit of iCloud.
“With iOS 5 and iCloud, you just enter your Apple ID and password and iCloud will seamlessly integrate with your apps to automatically and wirelessly keep all of your mail, contacts, calendars, photos, apps, books, music and more, up-to-date across all your devices without ever having to connect to a computer,” according to Apple.
What’s more interesting is Twitter integration, which now makes it so easy, that iPhone users will just have a single sign on allowing native Apple apps to work with Twitter. All your Contacts, Camera, Safari, YouTube, Maps and Photo apps connect with the microblogging site to instantly share content with just a simple tap.
A new Reminders app also helps you manage your tasks by creating and grouping related tasks and giving time and location based alerts, priorities and due dates, so you are reminded of tasks as their deadlines approach. Reminders can also be viewed in iCal and Outlook and are updated automatically.
New features in the Camera and Photos apps give you instant access to the camera right from the lock screen, and you can use the volume-up button to quickly snap a photo, with aids to help you line up and and lock focus and exposure on your subject.The Photos app also lets you crop, rotate, enhance and remove red-eye, and organise your photos into albums right on your device to share them on the go.
In addition, Apple has also added a few novel extras, such as Game Center, in which you can add photos to your profile and buy new games from the app, together with easier ways to find friends and new games.
You can also compose messages using draggable addresses and with the help of a new formatting bar.
And there’s also an AirPlay feture which mirrors all your actions on your iPad 2 wirelessly on your HDTV through Apple TV and a system wide split keyboard which makes it easier to type on your iPad.
The iOS 5 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com.
So is Apple staying ahead of the game with iOS? According to Ovum, Apple has been relatively slow at bringing new innovations to the platform allowing others to catch up, and even overtake, iOS in some areas.
“Since the last update of iOS, the new Windows Phone platform has entered the market. While it has yet to enjoy the same commercial success of iOS, the dramatic redesign of Microsoft’s mobile platform has made Apple’s look distinctly old fashioned in some areas,” according to analyst Nick Dillon.
Dillon says iOS relies heavily on third party applications for functionality, which is illustrated clearly in advertisements for the iPhone. Other platforms, such as Android, Windows Phone and WebOS, have integrated cloud services such as contacts, email and instant messenger into the core OS, allowing them to offer a more complete experience.
However he comments: “Apple may look to improve iOS is in the interaction between the iPhone and iPad versions of the software. Apple may take a leaf out of Android’s book and introduce a new interface for the iPad to take advantage of its larger screen size.”