iOS 5 announced: new feature round-up

Best update ever? Maybe.

Steve Jobs’s WWDC Keynote has wrapped up and I have to say that this is probably the most exciting and feature-packed non-hardware keynote I’ve ever seen him do. There are some incredible new features being packed into iOS 5 that will really wipe the smug smile from any face that might have been claiming that iOS was getting stale and falling behind the competition. After the break we’ll have a quick round-up of what’s new so read on.

Among the hundreds of new features in iOS 5, there are several key new features that were highlighted at WWDC this morning. We weren’t there ourselves (unfortunately) so we’ve had to borrow imagery from Engadget who did an outstanding job at live-blogging the event this morning as usual. Here are the new features:

Notification Center

Notification Center

As hoped, notifications in iOS have had a complete makeover and from what we’ve seen in this morning’s keynote they address almost every concern I’ve heard. Notifications now pop-up unobstrusively at the top of the screen and don’t interfere with apps you’re currently running. A downward swipe from the menu bar will reveal an Android-style list of notifications, and best of all these notifications show on the lock screen.

Lock screen


This appears to be an additional store of sorts, a little like the iBookstore, but for magazines and newspapers. Copies of finger-friendly publications can be bought here and the covers themselves show up in a folder on your homescreen that resembles a newsstand. It looks cool, but whether we’ll ever see any NZ content (given that we still don’t have an iBookstore) is unknown.



Twitter Integration

Those rumours about deep Twitter integration were bang on the money. The ability to share photos, web pages and map locations to Twitter is baked right into the OS and looks to have been very nicely implemented. It’s a shame that this is Twitter only and not also available for Facebook but them’s the breaks.

Twitter Integration

Safari Updates

The ‘Reader’ functionality of Safari for Mac and PC is being added to iOS. This means that when you’re reading an article (like this one), you can tap the reader icon in the address bar and see a plain black-text-on-white-background-with-photos version with all the clutter stripped out. Speaking as the operators of a website we’re unsure about this one, as for us it could mean loss of revenue from ads you won’t see and means that you’ll get to read our articles without the visual presentation that we intended.


Apple have also added a ‘Reading List’ feature which will allow you to earmark interesting articles you’ve stumbled across which you might not have time to read now but want to pick-up later. Also added is tabbed browsing, which works a lot like it does in Safari and Firefox for your Mac or PC.



This was a nice surprise. Apple are building reminder functionality into iOS 5 that is so smart that you can even set it to remind you of a task you need to complete when you are in a particular location. So, for example, you could set a reminder that says “buy some bread” when you’re walking past the dairy on your way home from work. Genius.

Camera Updates

One of the many Camera app tweaks

Some exciting new tweaks for the camera have been introduced – first and foremost you can now access your camera right from your lock screen without having to enter your PIN. This means that when you want to take a quick snap it is literally a couple of taps away. Other improvements include the ability to take a picture by pressing ‘volume up’ rather than the on-screen icon, pinch-to-zoom, exposure / focus lock, and the ability to apply basic edits right within the camera app such as red eye removal and one-tap ‘enhance’ a la iPhoto. All very welcome updates I’m sure you’ll agree.

Mail Updates

Rich text formatting

Mail has received a number of updates, not least of which is rich text editing. Finally you are able to use italics, bold, etc. No mention was made of font control but let’s hope it’s there. Also added is improved email search, the ability to drag addresses to and from the TO / CC / BCC line etc.

System-wide Enhancements

New keyboard

There are some awesome new tweaks that will work across all apps. The first is a new keyboard for the iPad. Grab the existing one, drag it up the screen with your thumbs and it will split into two, giving you keys that are all within easy reach of your thumbs – this will be a god-send for typing in landscape mode without resting the device on your lap.

Also added: a system-wide dictionary feature like the one in iBooks (highlight a word and tap ‘define’ and a pop-up will show you the words dictionary definition), the ability to start using your device without tethering to iTunes so that you can buy, say, an iPad and use it as a standalone device without the need to connect to a host computer. This is made all the more easier by the next feature: over-the-air updates to iOS! And not only that but they’re delta updates, too, which means that updates can be smaller (like a patch) rather than having to download the entire OS all over again. Yay for the saved bandwidth!

Game Center Updates

One of the new Game Center features

There are a slew of tweaks for Game Center including much deeper social integration so that you can see more of what your friends are up to, the introduction of turn-based games that you can play with your buddies, and the ability to buy new games from within the Game Center app rather than having to go back out to the App Store.



This one is going to hurt a lot of devs that have existing messaging apps on the store such as WhatsApp messenger, but it’s probably for the best in the long run: Apple are adding a messaging app which lets you communicate with your contacts who are also using iOS devices – basically it’s like free text messaging. It comes with the ability to show received and read receipts and shows you when the other party is typing a message. This is great for iPhone owners but for iPad and iPod touch owners it is ground-breaking and will be a very welcome addition.

AirPlay Mirroring

This was very much glossed-over in the keynote but iOS 5 adds the ability to mirror what’s going on on your iOS device via AirPlay. I’m thinking this will be awesome for games in particular but in reality there will be so many uses for this that it’s unreal. I wish Steve had gone into more detail and given us a demo but we’re sure we’ll see it for ourselves before too long.

OK, well that about covers the major new features in iOS 5. There are actually several more which revolve around iCloud but we’ll go into those a bit later on this morning. iOS 5 will be available ‘in the fall’ (Spring for us), so there’s somewhat of a wait ahead but we’re used to that with major revisions by now.

So what did you think? Mind blown? What are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments.


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  1. Maxim says:

    Do you know if iOS 5 will bring all attachments in an email to the top? It is such a pain to scroll pages down of the long email to view the file…

    (Maxim has made 11 comments)

  2. Maxim says:

    Just some minutes ago the AppStore received NEW look to the updates section. Now you can veiw history of all the purchased apps. Good for parental control!

    (Maxim has made 11 comments)

  3. mrs_kiwi says:

    My favourite new feature is “ability to delete songs from iPod”.

    (mrs_kiwi has made 89 comments)

  4. Mak says:

    WiFi syncing and notifications…. yusssss

    (Mak has made 222 comments)

  5. alopes says:

    I’m impressed with the NEW iOs5 & Cloud. Was a bit confused with regards to the US$24.99/y for 20,000 songs. Is this the subscription to be able to DOWNLOAD 20,000 songs or is it an example of how much space we get to save 20,000 of songs on the iCloud. Padon my ignorance.

    (alopes has made 71 comments)

  6. Chris says:

    My mind is blown. I regret not having an iPhone 4 right now (still on 3G). JB be damned, iPad2 iOS5 here i come!

    (Chris has made 73 comments)

  7. Jasony says:

    I’m loving these changes and iCloud looks awesome.
    What is everyones thoughts on iPhone 5 release, last year iPhone 4 was released at the WWDC…
    Wonder if mirroring will work with iPad 1 now with the iOS 5

    (Jasony has made 4 comments)

  8. Nikki says:

    YAY!!! Looks like a wide range of new features I think the camera update is going to be awesome! For the amount you will be getting in ios5 I don’t waiting. Again YAY apple!

    (Nikki has made 17 comments)

  9. camtab says:

    Anyone downloaded and installed the iOS5 Beta yet? Any bugs (I know there will be, just curious as to what noticeable ones are there) to watch out for?

    (camtab has made 480 comments)

  10. andrewspear says:

    iOS5 is the first upgrade I’m actually excited about. They have finally sorted out the stuff that’s bugged me since version one: centralised notifications, quick camera access, wireless syncing. Add some very nice touches such as: todos, iCloud and the no-sync option and you have one excited lad right here!

    (andrewspear has made 2 comments)

  11. ZoeLou says:

    Im super excited about this update! Brings in a whole bunch of awesome things that finally stops that nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me to get an Android!
    Only thing, does anyone else agree that the number of native, and therefore undeletable, apps is getting a bit silly? Some of which are potentially useless to a fair number of consumers?
    Stocks for example. Yes there are some people that use it and hooray for them, but for the rest of us, its taking up a valuable slot on our homescreen or in a folder. The compass is the same. And if we don’t get access to the magazine subs, newsstand will be useless to all us Kiwis!
    I would love it if somewhere in this wonderful new iOS, we would get the option to disable some of the native apps.

    (ZoeLou has made 16 comments)

  12. benlimisella says:

    First post from me! I’m excited about this WWDC altogether, that’s for sure. But as far as iOS 5, I am looking forward to the new Camera function that’s for sure. The fact that you can now use the camera straight off the lock screen, and use the volume-up button to take a photo is a major improvement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped my iPhone from trying to tab ‘focus’ with one hand and take a photo, and hold it still at the same time.

    The next best thing I’m looking forward to the most is iMessage. This will rival BBM and more!

    Others I like: split keyboard, Safari tabs, Reminders (I’m glad I didn’t buy any of those other Reminder apps), Twitter integration and Notification Center. I’m not sure about the Stock Exchange bit in Notification Center – it’s not for everyone.

    (benlimisella has made 1 comment)

  13. bigfishnz says:

    @ benlimisella: Just to let you know mate you can remove the stock exchange from the notification center, you can also rearrange the way its displayed so the weather is on the button and messages and others are on the top.

    The coolest little feature so far is the flash indicator for alerts, so when a text message arrives the back flashes twice.

    (bigfishnz has made 3 comments)

  14. MrGanye says:

    Has there been any word on whether or not 3GS will get all the features??

    (MrGanye has made 9 comments)

  15. MrGanye says:

    Has there been any word on whether or not 3GS will get all the features?

    (MrGanye has made 9 comments)

  16. nfused says:

    3GS has a full update i believe?

    Im glad that you confirmed that you can remove stocks from the notification center. I have no desire for that whatsoever LOL. I am pretty happy with this update overall.

    With twitter how do you view your timeline etc, do you still have to use an app like Twitter for iPhone or Echofon?

    Annndddd…. How do you setup iCloud so that you get yourself a new .me email account etc?

    (nfused has made 32 comments)

  17. camtab says:

    I just dont seem to be having much luck. Everything fails to work first time for me ;(

    Anyone installed the beta firmware on the Apple TV2? I installed and it then came up saying it failed to activate and network time wont set. So I registered the UDID in my developer portal (or at least thought I had) but it still fails to activate. Anyone else have that problem…step I am missing? I didnt download the latest that the issue? (I am using about two versions old)

    I have beta itunes, beta Apple TV software…just wont activate

    (camtab has made 480 comments)

  18. camtab says:

    ..and as came right over night. Must have taken a bit for the UDID to register or something but all good and LOVING Real Racing HD over the air on the TV. AWESOME!!!

    (camtab has made 480 comments)

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