Apple has previewed iOS 5, the latest version of its advanced mobile operating system, and released a beta version to iOS Developer Program members. It will be available to consumers this fall.
The iOS 5 beta release includes over 200 new features that will be available to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. New iOS 5 features include: Notification Center, a way to view and manage notifications in one place without interruption; iMessage, a new messaging service that lets you send text messages, photos and videos between all iOS devices; and Newsstand, a new way to purchase and organize your newspaper and magazine subscriptions. With the new PC Free feature, iOS 5 users can activate and set up their iOS device right out of the box and get software updates over the air with no computer required.
“Perhaps iOS 5’s paramount feature is that it’s built to seamlessly work with iCloud in the Post PC revolution that Apple is leading,” says Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
With iOS 5 and iCloud, you just enter your Apple ID and password and iCloud will seamlessly integrate with your apps to automatically and wirelessly keep all of your mail, contacts, calendars, photos, apps, books, music and more, up-to-date across all your devices without ever having to connect to a computer.
Notification Center provides iOS 5 users with a way to access all notifications — text messages, missed calls, calendar alerts, app alerts and more, all in one place, from anywhere in iOS 5. When they arrive, notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen without interrupting what you’re doing. With one swipe you can see all your notifications, and a tap will take you right to its app for more detail. Notifications also appear on the lock screen, with the ability to be taken to the notifying app with just one swipe.
Newsstand is a bookshelf displaying the covers of all your newspaper and magazine subscriptions in one place. A new section of the App Store features just subscription titles, and allows users to quickly find the most popular newspapers and magazines. If subscribed to, new issues appear in the Newsstand and are updated automatically in the background.
New Safari features in iOS 5 include Safari Reader, which “gets all the clutter out of the way and sets the right font size on a web page, so you can easily scroll and read through a story”; Reading List, so you can save articles to read later and they automatically show up on all your iOS devices; and Tabbed Browsing, which lets you flip between multiple web pages on an iPad.
iOS 5 includes built-in Twitter integration, so you can sign in once and then tweet directly from all your Twitter-enabled apps, including Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps with a single tap. New APIs (application programming interfaces) give third party developers the ability to take advantage of the single sign-on capability for their own iOS 5 apps.
iMessage in iOS 5 brings the functionality of iPhone messaging to all of your iOS devices — iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Built right into the Messages app, iMessage allows you to send text messages, photos, videos or contact information to a person or a group on other iOS 5 devices over Wi-Fi or 3G.
iMessages are automatically pushed to all your iOS 5 devices, so you can maintain one conversation across your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iMessage also features delivery and read receipts, typing indication and end-to-end encryption.
The new Reminders app helps you: manage your tasks; create and group related tasks together; and set time or location-based reminder alerts, priorities and due dates, so you can be reminded of a task as its deadline approaches, or when you arrive or depart a given location. Reminders can also be viewed in iCal and Outlook and are updated automatically.
New features in the Camera and Photos apps give you instant access to the camera right from the lock screen, and you can use the volume-up button to quickly snap a photo. Optional grid lines help line up your shot and a tap locks focus and exposure on one subject. The new Photos app lets you crop, rotate, enhance and remove red-eye, and organize your photos into albums right on your device to share them on the go.
With the new PC Free feature, iOS 5 users can activate and set up their iOS device right out of the box with no computer required, and iOS software updates are delivered over the air and installed with t a tap. Wi-Fi Sync in iOS 5 transfers and backs up your content over SSL and wirelessly syncs purchased content from your device to your iTunes library.
Additional new features in iOS 5 include:
• Game Center, now with the ability to add photos to your profile, purchase new games from within the Game Center app and easier ways to find friends and new games;
• Mail enhancements which include the ability to compose messages using draggable addresses, and a new formatting bar with bold, italics, underline and indention controls;
• AirPlay Mirroring to wirelessly display everything you do on your iPad 2 right on your HDTV through Apple TV; and
• A system-wide split keyboard to make it even easier to type on your iPad.
The iOS 5 beta software and SDK (software development kit) are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com . iOS 5 will be available as a free software update for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, iPod touch (fourth generation) and iPod touch (third generation) this fall. Some features may not be available on all products.