10 New Features to Get Stoked About in iOS 5

Earlier today Apple kicked off their annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference with a keynote speech that was chock full of new goodies for virtually everyone who uses their software regularly.

Mac.AppStorm has all the info on what’s coming with Lion and iCloud and we’ve got the lowdown on outstanding new features of iOS. Let’s take a look!

1. Notifications

Notifications are easily my favorite new feature of iOS 5 and are just about everything we’ve been begging Apple to implement for years.

Fully admitting that the previous notification system was a bit all over the place, Apple has created a new “Notifications Center” that houses all of your incoming data notices from your various applications.

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Notifications

Now instead of interrupting you, notifications present themselves as a subtle animation at the top of your screen. Simply swipe down to view the Notifications Center from any app. From here you can see a unified view of all your recent notifications.

Lock Screen

Fortunately, they didn’t stop there. The swiping gesture is nice, but you need to be able to get a quick look at this information as soon as you look at your phone. The lock screen has now gone from a pretty but useless wallpaper to a fully functional information hub.

Here you get a quick and attractive look at your various notifications. It’s not just a static screen mind you, it’s animated and even fully interactive. Just swipe across a notification to be taken to the associated app or hit the little “x” to clear it.

2. Newsstand

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Notifications

Jobs and the crew have been elbowing their way into the publishing business for a while now and Newsstand is a big development in this area. It’s pretty much iBooks but focused on magazine content.

As with iBooks, there’s a central location where you can find all the potential downloads. However, instead of just one-time downloads, you can create and manage subscriptions to various publications.

3. Twitter Integration

A few days ago rumors started surfacing that Twitter was going to be built into iOS in a big way, and today we got a preview of what that’s going to look like. It was suggested by several parties that this integration would go much further than simply an added button in a few of the apps, but it turns out, this is almost exactly what we got, with a few decent extras thrown in to sweeten the deal.

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Twitter Integration in iOS

With iOS 5 you can tweet photos, YouTube videos, web pages, maps and more, all from their respective apps. One pretty cool bonus is the ability to sync your contacts with Twitter (your address book pulls down the contact’s photo).

Perhaps the biggest part of the Twitter integration happens behind the scenes. You can now sign into Twitter right from the operating system, which will then communicate to any other Twitter-powered apps and prevent the need for extra login steps.

4. Safari

With all of the various new and exciting browsers popping up in the App Store, Mobile Safari was starting to show its age. Fortunately, iOS 5 has included a few new features that will bring Safari up to par.

For starters, there are tabs. No surprises here, they work exactly like what you’d expect and look like those in the big Safari.

Speaking of Safari on the desktop, another feature the iPhone is borrowing from there is Safari Reader, which takes out all the formatting and separate pages from news and blog posts and strips them down to easily readable text with inline images on a single page. You’ve seen similar functionality in services like Instapaper and ReadItLater, which brings us to our next feature: Reading List.

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Safari's New Reading List

Mobile Safari doesn’t just borrow the reader-friendly features of Instapaper, it duplicates the core functionality of the service by allowing you to create and manage a list of articles that you want to come back and finish in the future. This feature is found under the bookmarking icon and automatically syncs across your various devices.

5. Reminders

Among all of the hype and speculation of the past few weeks there was one thing I never heard anyone say: “I sure do wish there were more todo apps on the iPhone.” This has become one of the most over-saturated app genres around, so much so that I get nasty emails from you guys every time we review another todo app!

Well don’t shoot the messenger but Apple have apparently decided to take a huge chunk of this business by incorporating their own simple task manager into iOS. Reminders is a slick and basic task list with a heavy leaning towards date-related notifications that sync with iCal and Outlook.

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Reminders

It doesn’t stop there though, you can also set up a location-based reminder that shoots you a quick message once your phone reaches a certain location. No more driving all the way to the grocery store and filling up the cart only to forget the one thing you actually left the house to buy.

6. Camera

You’ve been there before. That fleeting moment where you miss the opportunity to photograph something as you take the time to turn on your phone, unlock it and launch the photo app.

In an unexpected but very welcome move, iOS 5 places a shortcut to the camera right on the lock screen. The coolest part is that the volume buttons are repurposed and become a convenient shoot button (tapping the screen always causes camera shake).

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New Camera Features

In addition to these features, you can now lock the exposure/focus point and pinch to zoom in. Unfortunately, it looks like you still can’t separate the focus and exposure point so you’ll have to keep that Camera+ app around.

7. Mail & Calendar

Both Mail and Calendar have received a few decent new features as well. For Mail, you can now flag messages (cue “It’s about time!” exclamations), create and delete mailboxes, define words (iOS-wide) and drag and drop names in the address fields.

The best part: rich text. There’s not much here but you at least have some basic options for bolding, italicizing and underlining sections of your message. Also, iPad users will be happy to see a gesture in portrait mode that shows and hides the inbox.

In the spirit of PC independency, the Calendar app now gives you much more control, including the ability to create and delete calendars right on your device. Also, there’s finally a year view!

8. Completely PC Independent

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain to people that an iPad can’t be your sole computing device. You simply have to have a desktop or laptop to sync it to. Not anymore!

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iOS now PC Free!

iOS devices are now fully independent from PC interaction. You can setup, update and do anything else with your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch without connecting it to a computer. All updates are downloaded directly through the cloud and the awesome new iCloud service will make sure everything stays nice a synced across your devices. The only reason you’ll have to plug in is charging!

9. Game Center

After boasting that the number of Game Center users dwarfs that of XBox Live users, Forstall showed off some new Game Center features.

You can now add a photo and browse friend/game suggestions so you’ll always have someone new to play with and something new to play with them! Turn-based games like Scrabble now have built-in iOS support so you can expect to see a lot more games utilize this type of gameplay.

Finally, since it’s annoying to be taken out of Game Center when you want to learn about an app, you can buy and download games right there without being redirected to the App Store.

10. iMessage

Blackberry fans are often seen boasting of their exclusive BBM messaging service. Well now iOS kids have something to fire back about because iMessage allows you to send unlimited high-quality picture and videos along with simple text messages to any other iOS user completely free.

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iMessage

This is built right into the normal messaging app and has lots of cool features like group messaging and live typing notifications. Imagine iChat on the iPhone (though unfortunately no iChat integration is present).

Much More

iOS 5 is the most significant upgrade of Apple’s mobile operating system to date and boasts over 200 new features! Check out apple.com for more information on the iPad’s new split screen keyboard, AirPlay mirroring, new gestures and a lot more.

The worst news of the day was the announcement that we won’t get to play with any of this until this fall. Oh well, in the mean time, leave a comment below and let us know what new iOS features you’re most excited about!


  • Doug Rydal

    Some great new features, pity we can’t get them now! As always there’s a few things I would have liked to have seen,

    Calendar – ability to sync colours with Outlook
    Mail Box – coloured coded Unified Inbox, so at a glance you can see which are your Work emails and which are personal.

    It does make you wonder about the need to develop the ‘Reminders’ feature, sounds great, but plenty of others do it well now.

    Excited though…

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  • Sandra

    iCloud, iMessage and most of all Notifications

  • Eneas Aguirre

    Great news! what about iPhone 5?

  • Bryan

    I too am excited about the new features. Would they not be able to further tweak or add features considering it might be October before this gets released? I like the suggestion of color-coding for the unified inbox! This might finally keep me from having to JB my phone–a process that gets increasingly frustrating. As for reminders and twitter integration, the app store was getting over-saturated with them (fart app, anyone) and this will just force developers to become more creative.

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  • Hayden Gascoigne

    I’ve been using iOS 5 for a few days now and I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s shaping up. Unfortunately, Wifi Sync is disabled in the first beta, but I am loving the notification system. Not as advanced as something like Lockscreen Info, but still better than iOS 4. What I am really liking is not necessarily the big features, but the minor changes that were made. The settings page is now much more detailed and offers many great new features for power users.

    My only complaint is the beta has been sluggish in my use on an iPhone 4, however, that is certainly to be fixed once Apple gets it all polished up.

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  • Imran Mitha

    Hey. Does the new wifi sync feature mean that we cannot use sync cables even if we wanted to? I dont have a very good wifi connection and am worried. Please Help

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    Great features for the ios. IOS is the most advanced mobile OS in the world.

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