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Computerworld – earlier this week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple finally offered up a look at iOS 5, the planned update to the company’s mobile OS. Although it won’t be out until this fall – Apple isn’t yet saying exactly when- iOS 5 promises to deliver much-needed changes to the OS, which is used on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Apple told WWDC attendees that the new OS will have some 200 new features, though only 10 of them were showcased during Monday’s two-hour keynote, which also focused on iCloud and OS X 10.7 “Lion”.

Here are the five iOS 5-based changes:

  • New notifications – apple has finally revamped the way iOS handles messages notifications. Currently, whenever a notification arrives, it pops up on the screen, forcing you to either view the message or close the notification window. The new method doesn’t force you to stop whatever you’re doing; the notification literally rotates into view in the form of an unobtrusive banner – it displays the appropriate app icon and the message – gently flips back out of view. If the notification requires immediate attention, tapping it automatically switches you to the app so you can respond.
  • Revamped Lock Screen – the Lock Screen will get a few fairly useful updates in iOS 5. Double-tapping the Home button not only brings up audio options like before, but now it adds a Camera icon just to the right of the Swipe to Unlock slider. This gives quick access to the Camera app – even when the iPhone is locked – allowing you to record pictures and videos much faster than before. This means no more fumbling to unlock the phone, launch the Camera app and snap a picture. As a bonus, the volume-up button doubles as a hardware shutter.
  • Cutting the cord – out of the box, an iOS 5 device can be activated without plugging it into anything. After entering basic information like your Apple ID, you can then access every purchase you’ve made through iTunes (including the music, movie and app stores) and download them as quickly as your connection allows. Not only it’s activation does wirelessly, so are iOS updates. Effectively, this eliminates iTunes as required middleware.

  • Messages – iPhones have always been able to send and receive text messages, and, since the iOS 3 update, picture and movie messages, too. The problem with this is that carriers charge ridiculous rated for texting. Currently, AT&T sells separate messaging plans, and unlimited messaging is $30 a month. There’s no cost for sending text, images or movies – as long as the messages are between two iOS devices.
  • AirPlay – as of iOS 5, AirPlay now mirrors the iPad directly with AirPlay Mirroring. To enable it, just double-tap the Home button, swipe right to call up the brightness/volume/rotation lock area, tap the AirPlay button – the icon resembles a TV – tap your destination device for the video, and turn on mirroring when the option slides into view.

iOS 5 brings about dozens of welcome changes that users at all experience levels will appreciate and, most importantly, will actually use. Apple consistently shows that powerful new features don’t necessarily mean added complexity.


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