The world’s most advanced mobile operating system just got better, or so they say – and I’m inclined to agree. Apple’s latest iOS release finally brings some much-requested features to the iDevice line-up, with even the original iPad and iPhone 3GS benefiting from the update. Whether you’ve got a new iPhone 4GS or an old iPod Touch 3G there are over 200 improvements, additional security precautions and that silky smooth interface we’re oh-so-used to on our smartphones these days.
Here’s a quick checklist for those of you who have updated recently.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months you’ll have heard of iCloud, a smart new way to access your files from multiple devices. In order to use iCloud you’ll first need to sign in from your device, and you can do this under iCloud in Settings.
iCloud includes an @me.com email address which you’ll need to register in order to proceed. Once you have registered your account and linked it to an Apple ID you’ll see something similar to the screenshot below, which controls what is backed up. Remember, you only have 5GB of free storage to start with – though you can buy more in the Storage & Backup menu below these settings.
With your iCloud set-up either update Mac OS X which includes iCloud integration, or grab the Windows iCloud Control Panel from Apple. With this installed, ensure iCloud Backup is enabled on your device and your pictures, contacts, notes and anything else you specified will appear on your PC after each daily backup (when the phone is plugged in, locked and connected to Wi-Fi).
This latest update brings deep Twitter integration into iOS, meaning you can Tweet from nearly anywhere on your phone. This also means that you only need to log into Twitter once and each app that requests access to your account you will only require one-time authorization.
You can find Twitter under Settings, where you can log into multiple accounts. Here is also where you control which applications have access to your credentials, so you can quickly disable anything that’s misbehaving. Once you’ve logged in you’ll still need to download the Twitter app from the App Store, grant it access to your account and you’re set to tweet.
Oh and see that Update Contacts button? That will pull information from your contacts and try to determine whether they’re using Twitter, adding relevant information and pictures. Handy.
Finally! Apple iOS users have proper, non-intrusive notifications and a lovely new Notification Center to store them. No longer will you miss a tweet, email or Game Center notification as they’re all accessed by swiping from the top of the screen vertically down.
You can set up your notifications on a per-app basis in Settings then Notifications. Note there are three options for most apps – None which shows up nothing on-screen but plays a sound, Banners which displays a small reminder at the top of the screen without interrupting your Angry Birds session and Alerts which are the notifications seen in iOS 4.3 and below.
I had quite a task setting up Twitter notifications, mainly because the app did not ask me for permission on first boot. If you can’t find Twitter under Notifications and would like to add it to your Notification Centre, reboot your phone and re-launch the app. You should be prompted to allow push notifications, and afterwards you can return to Notifications and add it much like your other apps.
Grab Some Apps
It comes as no surprise that Apple also produce apps for their mobile OS, and a few new ones were released in conjunction with iOS 5. Amongst them is Find My Friends, an app which allows iOS users to locate each other using on-request location detection. It might run your battery down a bit faster than normal use but it’s both fun and useful, especially if you’re a concerned parent or some kind of stalker.
In one giant leap forward for mobile security, Find My iPhone is another addition that’s completely free to use. Once iCloud has been set-up, visit iCloud.com and click Find My iPhone. After supplying a password Apple will attempt to locate your phone provided you haven’t turned off location services in Settings.
For those of you with multiple devices there is an app available for download to help you keep track of your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone from anywhere in the world, allowing you to wipe, lock or send messages to it should it go missing. Lastly iBooks is a handy Apple-engineered eReader and PDF wallet that’s ideal for keeping bus timetables and classic literature to hand.
Now that you’ve updated to iOS 5 you no longer require iTunes in order to update your device. Those of you who only ever installed iTunes in order to update can now boldly remove iTunes from your Windows PC or simply forget it exists on a Mac. It’s worth mentioning that if you’re interested in syncing your device with a computer wirelessly you’ll still need it (at least for the time being anyway).
I’ve read a lot of complaints about Newsstand, and how it cannot be hidden in a folder somewhere. Unfortunately Newsstand is a folder and thus will have to be hidden on your final page of apps if you don’t intend on using it.
Of course there are a lot more features and improvements, amongst them incredibly fast page rendering times within mobile Safari and iMessage, a service that’s set to cause a headache for both carriers and BlackBerry, I’m sure. Last but not least you can finally take a picture with the volume up button – now that’s progress.
What are your favourite features of Apple iOS 5? Anything else you’d recommend? Do you like the improvements? Have your say in the comments below.