The camera application has gotten a bit of an overhaul, too. First, let’s start with auto-exposure and auto-focus lock. Maybe sometimes you want to meter a part of a photo that isn’t necessarily the same area where you want to focus. Now, like Camera+, you can lock either one so that your photos turn out just the way you want them. Additionally, after you’ve snapped photos, you now have in-camera editing options like cropping, removing red-eye and enhancing photos, as well as other new editing features.
While in camera mode, the volume-up button on the phone also acts as a shutter. This was something that Camera+ used to do until Apple made them take the feature away. Perhaps now we know why that happened. Sometimes you want to hold your iPhone like a digital camera and having the button on the upper right feels more natural, or maybe you’re wanting to take a self-portrait with the rear camera and you’re fumbling around the screen trying to find the shutter button. Problem solved with a physical button.
You’ll also be able to zoom in photos using the pinch-to-zoom gesture instead of being forced to use just the slider. After all, if you can do it in photos, why not within the camera app?
Lastly, the camera is accessible from the lock screen. Even if your phone has a passcode lock on it, you can go straight to the camera app without being able to view anything else within the phone. This is perfect for those fleeting moments when you don’t have time to slide to unlock and fire up the camera – or worse, enter your passcode lock and wait for the few seconds for the camera to actuate. So, the next time you only have 2 seconds to snap that photo of a squirrel chasing a bird off a tree and jumping into mid-air, your chances are much better than before.
Apple has finally decided to improve its mail client by adding rich text formatting, dragging addresses and the ability to search for content within entire messages. You can also flag and unflag messages, and mark them as unread. Within the body of a message, you can search and define words with the iOS dictionary, a feature that works across the entire platform and not just within mail.
For the iPad, if you prefer typing with your thumbs in portrait mode versus landscape, Apple developed a split keyboard that will allow you to type without having the keyboard obscure or block any text or content. Pretty great stuff!
8. PC Free
Oh. My. God. Apple has finally done it – the company has finally decided that an iPhone should just work out of the box. Can you imagine that? You’ll no longer be forced to run home and plug it into your computer after seeing that pesky “Connect to iTunes” symbol ever again. Instead, when you take the iPhone or iPad out of the box, it will just say, “Welcome.” As it should.
Apple is still pushing its “post-PC world” shenanigans, but at least it is moving things into a wireless world. You can now sync your phone’s contacts, music and applications wirelessly without having to rely on a computer. Software updates will now be available over the air, just like Android. And instead of having to download the entire OS during the updates, it will only download portions of the OS that have been changed.
9. Game Center
Apple boasts over 50 million Game Center users, which is greater than the 30 million Xbox Live users that Apple used as an example. To be fair, Xbox Live costs users an annual fee of $50, so there really is no comparison — Microsoft is making a killing with it. But at any rate, it’s still a large number of users and so Apple has given the app a few new features as well.
You can recommend friends, get recommended friends, there are game recommendations and a lot more. There are now turn-based iOS games included for Game Center, too. That means you can challenge friends to certain games and it doesn’t have to be live, up-to-the-minute moves. You simply make your move or your play whenever you log on.
This is one of the biggest moves for Apple in iOS 5. Many are already saying that this kills RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger, and in many ways it does. Messages are all consolidated within the Messages application, and you can include videos, photos, texts, contacts and more between other iOS users. That’s right – it’s not just limited to the iPhone only.
With iMessages, you’ll be able to have delivery and read receipts, much like BBM, Kik, WhatsApp and similar messaging applications. You can also see when your friend is typing, just like BBM. Messages will also be pushed to all your iOS devices and will utilize both 3G and Wi-Fi networks when available. And if you’re worried about security, it’s all encrypted, too.
In all, there was a ton of new stuff covered, but the ten features highlighted today aren’t even half the story. Apple claims that there are 200 new features and upgrades in iOS 5. While none of the new features were ground-breaking or absolutely revolutionary, they were very much welcome additions. Overall, it should give users a more complete and easier iOS experience.