Apple’s, Scott Forstall, introduced iOS 5 during yesterday’s keynote presentation at WWDC 2011. Before diving into the top ten new features, we wanted to address some of the numbers that Apple’s Senior Vice President of iPhone Software mentioned. There are 200 Million iOS device in use every day worldwide. Wow. That accounts for 44% of the mobile market… from one manufacturer. There are also 425,000 apps on the iOS App Store. 14 Billion iOS app downloads: each person on earth would have to download more than two apps to equal that number. However, you have people like me skewing the results — I’ve downloaded 364 apps since the first day of the iOS App Store. All right, enough numbers, let’s get to the cool stuff.
When Scott mentioned this, the WWDC crowd went nuts. Ever since Apple introduced push notifications, they’ve been obtrusive and hard to manage. With the addition of Notification Center, your push notifications won’t interfere with what you’re doing at all. They show up and disappear — no interaction necessary. They’ve also included a global swipe: if you swipe down from the top of the screen, it will bring up the Notification Center and show you all of the pending notifications. You can then clear them, or tap them to go to the related app.
The app combines missed calls, voicemails, text messages, Facebook alerts, game scores, etc. into one user interface. They also added stocks and weather to the top. We’d really like to see this evolve to a widget-like interface — i.e. a developer can toss a widget into your Notification Center (on/off setting would be a must) so you can quickly glance at whatever information you need… not just notifications.
Lastly, they improved the lock screen notifications to include a swipe to access feature. If you see a notification on your lock screen, you can swipe it and it will take you to the related application automatically. If you’d like to read more about Notification Center, click here.
Please continue reading this article for the rest of the iOS 5 features.
This doesn’t appear to be an app, just a glorified folder. It displays all of your text-based subscriptions like magazines, newspapers, etc. The folder pops up a nice shelf that looks like… wait for it… a newsstand! It brings a little Apple flair to an otherwise boring concept. The covers of the magazines and papers change whenever the developers update the subscription. Magazines show the front cover; newspapers show the front page. Apple’s also included background downloads for subscriptions: if they release a new issue, it should automatically download and be ready for you when you open it. Read more about Newsstand here.
Twitter will be built-in to iOS 5 as a core feature. You can sign-in to your Twitter account in the Settings application so it can use your information system wide. If you download a new Twitter client, it will use your information. It also integrates with the Camera app, Safari, YouTube and Maps.
In the Camera app, you can tweet the picture you just took. Safari allows you to share webpages directly to Twitter without leaving the application. If you find a video you like in the YouTube app, tweet it out to your followers from inside the app. Have you found a new restaurant? Find it in the Maps application and tweet it from there. If you’re not on Twitter, you probably won’t care but Apple’s showing a huge vote of confidence in Twitter with this feature… they also think you’re missing out, so join Twitter. Read more about the Twitter integration here.
Scott started with a few interesting statistics including their development of WebKit: the engine that runs Safari. Apple open sourced the software and quite a few clients picked it up. With Safari, Google Chrome and Android’s browser, Apple’s engine is responsible for more than 90% of mobile browser traffic worldwide.
As for the new features, they’ve added a “Reader” functionality to Safari that strips the content out of the website and isolates it for easy reading. It appears to be a wrapper for RSS feeds. If you want to isolate the article you’re reading, it pulls the full text from the article. Many RSS feeds only show excerpts, so it will be interesting to see if A) Apple is actually using RSS for this feature and B) whether or not it will pull the full content into the Reader view.
Second on the list is “Reading List” — for this, think about Instapaper. It allows you to save articles for later reading. Reading List will not only save the articles for later, it will sync those articles to all of your other devices including Mac, PC, and iOS. It defines read anytime, anywhere. One more thing, iPad Safari has tabbed browsing… finally. If you want to read more about the new Safari features, click here.
This is a completely new app that really amps up your ToDo list. In traditional list style, you can create a grocery list, packing list, or any other list you’d like. It also does date and time based alarms that will play a sound and act as a reminder alert. You won’t need to add an alarm to the Clock app any more.
The coolest feature is location-based reminders. Scott used this illustration: he needed to set a reminder to call his wife when he left WWDC that night. As soon as he left his current location, it would remind him to call his wife. Awesome. All of the reminders sync with CalDAV and exchange. Read more about Reminders here.
Apple greatly improved the usability of the Camera application in iOS 5. Starting with a quick access button from the lock screen: if you want snap a quick photo, you can go directly to the Camera app from the lock screen. You can also use the volume up button to snap a photo in the app.
While taking a picture, you can enable or disable grid lines to help align your picture, pinch to zoom, tap to auto focus and auto exposure as well. Lastly, you can do some basic editing in the Camera app like red eye reduction, crop and rotate, and one-click enhance (the same algorithms as iPhoto). Read more about the new Camera app here.
Apple enabled rich text formatting in the Mail app with iOS 5. You can bold, underline, and italicize any text you’d like within your email message. You can also indent paragraphs if you’d like. If you’ve ever tried to move an email address from the “To” field to the “CC” field, you’ll actually be able to do it in iOS 5. Currently, you have to re-type the email address, but it will become a drag and drop process with iOS 5. You’ll also be able to Flag messages. We haven’t seen any information about flag syncing, but we imagine that flagged messages would at least sync to Apple’s Mail program on the Mac. Like its Lion counterpart, Search improved within iOS 5’s Mail application: it allows you to search the whole message, not just To, From and Subject. There are many new features in iOS 5 Mail, click here to read more about them.
This is huge. You’ll never *have* to plug your iOS device into a computer again. It wouldn’t hurt anything if you did, but it’s no longer required. Instead of showing the “Connect to iTunes” interface when you turn on a new device, it has a welcome screen that helps you setup your account. Software updates will also be Over the Air from now on… further still, they’re delta updates. Delta means the updates only modify necessary files and leave everything else alone. Apple made the sync cable unnecessary with these added features. Cool. Read more.
In 9 months, Apple amassed 50 Million Game Center users. It took Xbox Live years to reach 30 Million. They’re adding new features like photos, achievement points, friend recommendations and game recommendations. You can also purchase recommended games in-app.
The concept of this new application is very similar to BlackBerry Messaging: you can send messages and media to anyone with an iOS device. Apple left out iPad and iPod touch users of the messaging fun because they don’t have MMS support. Now they don’t need it (kind of). They still won’t be able to message other phone (that we know of) but they’ll at least be able to chat with anyone on an iOS device.
The feature list is pretty stellar as well: send text, send photos, send video, share contacts, message a group of people, receive delivery receipts, receive read receipts and see when your friends are typing. The last three features are some of my favorites… you’ll know your friend received and read your message — and — you can see when they’re responding to it. Do I find it useful? Maybe, but amazes me nonetheless. Your device encrypts each message and the app works on 3G or Wi-Fi. Read more.
Apple only mentioned those ten features in the keynote but they listed a whole slew of other features in the OS:
Emoji emoticons, Personal dictionary, AirPlay Mirroring, Swipe to delete songs and playlists, iTunes Tone Store, iPad split keyboard, Typing shortcuts, Built-in dictionary, Smart Playlist sync from iTunes, Set tones for voicemail email and calendar alerts, Wirelessly sync exchange tasks, New iPad music app, Multitasking gestures, FaceTime mid-call invitation alerts, Improved FaceTime video quality, Option to speak text selection, VoiceOver item chooser, Mail improved offline support, Hourly weather forecasts, Weather for your current location, Wi-Fi sync to iTunes, Accessible input for mobility, VoiceOver action support, Mass Configuration, Real-time stock quotes, Custom vibration patterns, LED flash on incoming calls and alerts.
Those are the customer-facing features… here’s a list of new developer features and APIs:
Location support in iOS simulator, Backlight level setting, Customize UI, Improved PDF support, Dictionary popover, Newsstand Kit, Full page curl transition, OpenGL ES debugger, Core Image, vForce and vimage libraries, GL Kit, OpenGL ES game extensions, Page View Controller, Fast forward and rewind streaming content, Access to LED flash, Storyboarding, Data protection for Core Data, Forward and reverse geocoding, New view animations, AirPlay from AV Foundation apps, Automatic Reference Counting, GameKit achievement notification banners.
We’ll cover more of these features as time progresses. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments.