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Thread: iOS5

  1. #1
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    iOS5

    I've just been reading through the list of changes and updates to Apple iOS 5 and I had to wonder if this really needed a completely new version number? There really isn't that much new to shout about to hail it as a completely new version/release of iOS. It definitely seems more of a marketing ploy to hype it and get the Apple fans shouting about it, and also to make them feel better by giving them a new iOS version on their existing devices at the same time as the new iPhone 4S is released.

    So what actually are the new features of iOS5?

    1. Pull down notifications. Anyone familiar with Android will instantly see where Apple have "borrowed" this idea from. Pull down the notification bar from the top of the screen to see all the latest notifications. The only real difference is that with iOS it will also alert you of new messages on the locked screen.
    2. Twitter Integration. Interesting idea. However I think Android goes some way further than this. It doesn't integrate such third party services into its own OS, but using Android I instantly saw the benefit of the "log in using your Facebook" or Google accounts. One centralised login for all such services on my device makes it so simple and really removed the need to integrate the actual services into the OS. Although we will see in time, because there is the argument that with it integrated, all App devs will be able to assume it is installed and integrate features from it into their own apps. Although with Android app developers cans still do this and just active the connection between the 2 if it finds the other installed.
    3. Updated Safari web browser. All web browsers get updated over time so I don't really view this as a huge OS specific update. The major new feature is the ability to strip adverts and reformat multi-page webpages into single easier to read pages.
    4. Newsstand. This is a store for newspapers and magazines.
    5. Improvements to the Camera app. But editing features now built into the app mean third party apps using them will break.
    6. Reminders. A things to do note app. The one interesting feature is GPS alerts, where it can notify you about a note you made when you reach a specific location, such as reminding you of shopping to get as you walk into the supermarket.
    7. Email. The email app seems some improvements such as finally allowing rich text formatting (iOS really didn't have this before?).
    8. OTA updates. Until now all updates and setups required a PC and iTunes. Finally Apple has realised people hate iTunes and the need for it to be used for such things. Now you can perform Over The Air updates of the OS. And also updates will no longer require the whole OS to be updated each time, but just the files that have changed. Seems Apple have been learning from others finally about this, and also trying to address all the issues users have with the whole update process to date.
    9. iMessage. Basically Apple's equivalent to Blackberry Messenger, and really just another Instant messaging system, but one only people with iMessage can access, so to me its a bit pointless as it means you can't communicate with anyone on another device. A bit like Facetime, where only other iPhone users can actually connect. Companies seem to be going backwards in this regard. Years ago we had 3G smaetphones with integrated video calling and IM services, will all different makes able to connect and use them. Now each of the main developers has their own system that only works if you also own a similar device. Mad.
    10. Final bits. Apparently there will also be multitouch gestures to switch between apps, the ability to final alternative routes in Google Maps and the ability to utilise AppleTV to wirelessly mirror an iPads display to a TV.

    So is it worth all the hype? There are definitely a couple of interesting developments included here. Reminders GPS feature being one of the biggest. But I'm sure other third party apps already have this functionality, but having it as a core OS app could see other Apps taking advantage and utilising it for themselves. Will be interesting to see what happens.

    Other than that, most of the other updates are really just that. Updates and not really anything revolutionary.

    And more importantly, nothing that can't be done on Android.

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  2. #2
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    Coming at it from the other direction - there are quite a few new things there that really do change the user's interaction with the phone, things that are really quite different to how they were before. If that doesn't justify a new version number, what does? Surely you aren't expecting them to completely ditch something that been a massive success and has worked really very well for them and rewrite the whole thing from the ground up, with absolutely everything changed, just so that you will allow them to use a whole new number... Does any company even do that?

    You didn't mention iCloud either - while again it's not a revolutionary idea, it's the implementation that is the key. It's so easy to set up and just works away in the background. To the casual user, it's almost magic how they can do something on one device and the changes persist on the other (people raved over this with the cross-platform Kindle apps not so long ago). I gave Lady T an iPad not so long ago, and she got hold of an iPhone 3GS to use recently too, and it's really neat how they work together, simple and elegant. It's a neat way to get people to buy into other Apple products for sure.

    There's other stuff too, but the general theme is building on the foundations of what there previously was, improving through gradual steps. For me, it works really well.

    Although, there was something that I was thinking about recently (having just ordered a 4S to replace my 3 year old 3G) - I almost don't 'see' the phone, the OS, it's more like a 'window' to the content I want - and that's great UI design. I know that the newer version will be more of the same but faster, better, more capable, certainly no lemon. However, that sort of familiarity takes away some of the excitement of getting a new phone... I remember getting a new one practically every year, finding out how it works, what it can do, what silly features it come preloaded with, the peculiarities of a different menu system (especially when changing manufacturers) and all that. It was exciting, for that first week or so before becoming just another everyday item. Maybe the iphone is just too capable, so that element of a risk or gamble is gone and all I get is excellence - but predictable, expected excellence. It's very much a first-world conundrum.

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