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Posts tagged with "iOS 5"

iOS 5: Newsstand Overview

Sitting on every user’s iPad, iPhone or iPod touch when they update to iOS 5 is a new “app” called Newsstand which organises all of your magazine and newspaper subscriptions in one place. Whilst this might sound pretty underwhelming at first, it is actually a fairly significant feature addition that actually contains a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ changes to how iOS devices and the App Store deals with magazines and newspapers.

I called it in “app” in quotes because visually it looks no more than an iOS folder with a new skin that turns it into something that looks like iBooks with its cedar bookshelves. In fact all it does is store all your magazines and newspapers so that they can be found in a centralised location, as well as give users a shortcut to the Newsstand section of the App Store.

Jump the break to read our overview of Newsstand and how it’s much more than just a pretty iOS folder.
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iOS 5: iMessage

With today’s release of iOS 5, Apple has added a significant new feature to their Messages app with the introduction of iMessage. Seamlessly integrating into the existing Messages application, iMessage is a new service from Apple that acts as a replacement for the traditional text message service that comes with mobile phones.

In actual fact, a more accurate description of the Messages app with iMessage on iOS 5 would be that it improves on the traditional text messaging service whilst maintaining compatibility with it. The new iMessage service works by associating a person with an Apple ID - rather than a particular device or SIM card as the traditional text message service does. This is one of iMessage’s advantages, you are not restricted to a single device and you can now use your iPad or iPod touch (and hopefully Mac soon) for receiving and sending messages to other people.

Jump the break to read the rest of our iMessage overview.
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Apple’s Cards Makes Sending Memories Simple and Easy

Send beautiful letterpress cards to your friends and family with your iPhone or iPod touch via Apple’s Cards, the surprise app unveiled last week during the iPhone 4S keynote. Cards, now available on the iTunes App Store, features a series of thankful, seasonal, celebrational, and  travel templates which you can browse via a carousel. New cards slide into view as you navigate the app with your finger, with incomplete cards being saved to a drafts area which can be accessed through the navigation bar.

Presented cards are customizable, enabling users to change the title information, the inside of the card, and the envelope before sending their card for $2.99 within the United States, and $4.99 internationally. Unique edit views make the customization process feel on par with the editing techniques seen in iWork. Pictures can be taken on the fly or chosen from your photo library, then cropped and resized on the card face. Text can be completely rewritten for a personal touch on the inside of the card you’ve chosen, allowing you to personalize messages for a truley unique card.

Cards is a free download in the iTunes App Store.

An Overview Of PC Free In iOS 5

A core focus of iOS 5 is the introduction of iCloud (be sure to read our overview of it here), and one could say that the fundamental goal of iCloud is to free the iPhone and iPad from its reliance on a Mac or PC, making them more independent and powerful devices. iCloud goes along way in achieving this and reducing the need to sync devices (through features such as Photo Stream, iCloud Backup, iTunes Match etc.), but it doesn’t completely remove the requirement of syncing - particularly for those in regions that don’t yet have iTunes Match or don’t have Internet speeds capable of utilising iCloud Backup.

To fully accomplish this goal of making the iOS devices independent, Apple has added two additional features that complement iCloud, even if they aren’t technically deemed to be a feature of iCloud. These features are PC-Free and Wi-Fi syncing with iTunes; jump the break to view our full overview of these features.

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iOS 5: Improvements In Safari, Camera, Photos, Mail, Calendar, Music & Video

Today’s release of iOS 5 sees the inclusion of new apps such as Reminders, significant upgrades to existing apps such as the integration of iMessage in Messages and the introduction of iCloud, which is set to change the way we use our iOS devices. Yet amidst all these significant changes to the iOS platform, Apple hasn’t forgotten about the apps that have existed since day 1 of the first iPhone.

The Safari, Mail, Camera, Calendar, Music and Video apps have all received updates in iOS 5 and the updates range from addressing common complaints, tweaking the user interfaces, adding iCloud support to adding features that improve productivity and usability. Be sure to jump through the break to view the entire overview of changes to these apps.

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iOS 5: Reminders


With iOS 5, Apple has decided to tackle the to-do and reminder app market by offering its own solution that’s tightly integrated with iCloud, calendars, and Address Book. Reminders, a new system app in iOS 5, allows users to easily and quickly jot down their to-dos and organize them in “lists” that are stored and backed up to the cloud in real-time. Reminders are constantly pushed across devices and the web on, and they come with a series of options to give them date-based alarms, a location, or notes.

Reminders is a straightforward app that can’t be compared to more complex to-do and project management solutions like OmniFocus or Things, but it doesn’t need to achieve or aspire to such complexity as it’s a utility aimed at making it extremely simple to quickly create a reminder, and forget about the existence of the app itself. You won’t spend time “tweaking” or “customizing” Reminders; you can’t assign “tags” to to-dos and move them around between folders. The app has got a single theme (as per Apple’s recent skeuomorphic trends, the app resembles an old leather-bound agenda with the heavy use of textures) and two functionalities besides reminder creation: lists and search. Read more

iOS 5: Twitter Integration

With iOS 5, Apple is officially acknowledging the existence of external social networks besides Ping and Apple ID (one of the authentication options for iOS 5’s iMessage) and the result is direct Twitter support, unveiled after much speculation at the WWDC in June, and now available inside Apple’s Settings app. Twitter integration in iOS 5, however, goes beyond a couple of preferences and options to tweak – it’s a systemwide framework that will allow developers to build “official” Twitter support in their apps, as well as let users forget about having to log in with Twitter every time they want to try a new Twitter app.

Twitter is expecting a massive growth in the upcoming months thanks to integration with Apple’s devices, and rightfully so: with the new Twitter preference panel available in iOS 5’s Settings, users are able to sign in once with their Twitter account, and use that “single sign-on” to authorize other apps downloaded from the App Store to access their Twitter credentials. With this method, not only is Apple giving users support for Twitter at a system level, they’re also leveraging iOS technologies to make the experience of downloading and configuring Twitter apps (admittedly, quite many) as frictionless as possible. Read more

iOS 5: Notification Center


Notification Center is one of the key features of iOS 5, one that will profoundly change the way iPhone and iPad users approach the incoming stream of data and notifications on mobile devices. There is no doubt Notification Center is among the most anticipated new functionalities to land on iOS, but before we delve deeper into its advantages over the old notification system of iOS 4.x and its (very few) shortcomings, here’s a bit of background history that should better put Notification Center into context.

Looking at Notification Center now – and playing with it for at least a day – it’s clear the system is indisputably better than what we used to have on our devices in the pre-iOS 5 era. Criticized both by the tech press and average users alike, the old notifications had, really, one main problem: they became annoying with time. And by “became” I mean that they began to show their utter nature of a system built for non-connected applications as soon as the App Store turned into a platform for the always-on individual who’s constantly connected, even when he plays Angry Birds or is eating a new meal at a restaurant a friend suggested.

The old notifications were built for a different set of apps. Read more

Thoughts On iOS 5

iOS 5, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch released today, comes with more than 1,500 new developer APIs and over 200 new user features. In our iOS 5 coverage, we have chosen to focus on the key functionalities of the OS, while leaving room for the most visible subtle improvements that have made it through Apple’s new release as well.

On a simple checklist, iOS 5 is the widest, most extensive software update ever released by Apple for mobile devices since the original iPhone OS in 2007. Not even iPhone OS 3.2, then iOS, which shipped with the iPad in 2010 could claim to have the same amount of new technology, user interface, APIs, cloud features and overall reassessment of the platform that iOS 5 presents today. But in the past four years, we’ve come to learn a new Apple product – be it a device or a major software update – isn’t strictly about the number of new functionalities a user can spot, or the APIs a developer can implement in his code. Those things certainly contribute to the concept of “major release” by adding their sheer number of updates – they just don’t form the full picture.

In iOS 5, the 200 new features Apple’s Senior VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall announced at WWDC in June are the consequence of an operating system completely re-imagined around speed, efficiency and interconnectedness. These three principles, intrinsic foundation of Apple’s vision for iOS going forward, define iOS’ independency as a platform, and ecosystem.

A key term in Apple’s iOS 5 parlance is “quick”. In iOS 5, you can quickly tweet thanks to systemwide Twitter integration; create a new to-do from the Reminders app; activate the Camera from the Lock Screen; even access all your missed notifications with a single swipe on any screen. Speed is key to iOS 5: as Apple devices gain faster processors and more RAM, an OS that’s equally responsive and lets you perform common tasks in seconds is functional to the user experience. A device can get an infinite amount of hardware upgrades, but an OS that’s not meant for speed will never feel fast when it comes down to regular usage. Luckily, that’s not the case with iOS 5.

Alongside speed, Apple focused on making iOS a modern operating system that doesn’t require a PC to accomplish certain goals or perform functionalities usually associated to desktop computers. At WWDC, Forstall said they looked in every corner of the OS, and asked themselves how they could make iOS better by adding new powerful functionality, while keeping it fast and intuitive.

“There is a feature for everyone out there”.

So, for instance, iOS 5 gained the capability of managing calendars directly on the device: users can now add, rename, and delete calendars, as well as view event attachments and share calendars with friends and family through iCloud. Previously, a Mac or PC was required to do this. Looking at the various apps that come bundled with iOS, it’s clear Apple’s intention was to add functionalities in a way that wouldn’t compromise the overall experience’s ease of use. Safari received a substantial update, adding tabs on the iPad for better web browsing and Reading List to save webpages for later; Mail can now compose rich text styles and indent/outdent lines in a message; with iCloud documents & data for developers, Apple has paved the path towards a massive increase of apps that will be able to effortlessly push documents across iOS devices. A first example of this can be observed in Apple’s mobile iWork suite, which comes with iCloud support out of the box. There’s more: iOS devices can now sync wirelessly to iTunes, and they support over-the-air (OTA) software updates, meaning you’ll be able to download and install iOS 5.1 when it comes out directly from your iPhone or iPad. Users who sign up for iCloud can buy new storage (for a price) on device, choose which app libraries to back up to the cloud, and set up a new device without needing to activate it through iTunes on a Mac or PC. iOS 5 now lets you delete songs manually from the Music app, change a device’s name without iTunes, and even edit photos. On top of these new options, iOS 5 devices automatically back up and share the most recent photos with each other through iCloud’s Photo Stream, and it’s now possible to create and manage photo albums without having to switch to iPhoto on a Mac.

What’s worth noting about iOS 5 – basic concepts and 200 new features aside – is that while a general trend on desktop operating systems seems to be a heavy focus on removing functionalities, iOS keeps adding new ones. In fact, if you take Lion into consideration, iOS 5 is where Apple keeps adding features to the checklist, whereas Mac users have been found lamenting the removal of several of their favorite features on the latest OS X upgrade.

And, really, the reason is extremely simple: iOS is a different paradigm, one that gave Apple a fresh start four years ago and that is still allowing the company to experiment. The checklist doesn’t matter when an OS that keeps gaining features still doesn’t feel like it should be simplified.

If anything, iPhone and iPad users will start asking for more tomorrow.

What’s even more obvious to me is that iOS is starting to feel like a “connected OS” in its fifth version. Apple is “cutting the cord” under the large “PC Free” marketing umbrella that defines iOS’ independency from desktop computers, and for the first time iPhones and iPads are acting as devices fully aware of each other’s apps and data. The emblem of this renewed interconnectedness is iCloud: Apple’s new cloud service enables apps to push documents back and forth between devices, and it allows iPhones and iPads to manage their own cloud storage and the data that gets backed up to the cloud. Photo Stream connects a device’s recent photos with others’ camera rolls, and iTunes in the Cloud makes sure new and past purchases are immediately pushed on all your devices and always available for re-download, respectively.

For the first time in years, using and installing new apps doesn’t feel like adding new data silos to a confined environment. There’s still a long road to iOS apps’ full capability of “talking” to each other, but with iCloud now up and running, the task doesn’t seem as complex as it did yesterday.

iOS will never be “complete”.

In his WWDC keynote in June, Steve Jobs said: “You know, if the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software in them is their soul”. In Apple’s vision, a modern software – the “soul” of a device – is able to evolve and fit to the circumstances and change its behavior accordingly to new user requests, the app market, and third-party developers. The flexibility of iOS – and the reason Apple doesn’t care about legacy software as much as other companies do – can be easily spotted looking back at the original iPhone, or the first version of the App Store from 2008. iPhone OS was never “done”. The App Store itself was never 100% complete – the Store is just a showcase for an ever-changing landscape of mobile applications built on top of new technologies offered to developers. Yet sometimes those developers come up with new solutions to existing problems and better ways to improve the functionalities Apple gave them out of the box.

iOS, the App Store, the mobile ecosystem, the cloud, third-party developers – they’re all connected and, at the same time, independent from each other in a way that ensures evolution is consistent, but resilient.

That’s why iOS 5 is both a milestone and a starting point: it sets a new standard for developers who are now given access to thousands of new APIs, but it still lacks some functionalities that many will begin requesting tomorrow and, probably, Apple will deliver at its next WWDC keynote. You will hear about things such as better podcast and document management, streaming of music and movies through iCloud, iChat for iOS and Notification Center widgets throughout the next year. It’s just the way the iOS ecosystem works: as new technology comes around and it’s adopted by the users and developers, it’s time to start wondering about what’s next. About the direction the ecosystem needs to take to be stable, flourish, allure third-party app makers and, more importantly, evolve.

Today, there’s iOS 5. It’s fast, efficient and connected in a way that iOS 4 never was, and perhaps didn’t need to be – because it was too soon. As Apple begins to roll out its iCloud services and developers start writing new software that takes advantage of modern APIs and technologies, the next few months will prepare the road that will lead us to the introduction of iOS 6 next year. At the same time, users will get accustomed to the new functionalities of iOS 5, and a new breed of quick, productive and connected applications will rise on the App Store, eventually finding its way back to the Mac as it’s always done in the past years.

iOS 5: it just works - and now it does more.