The first six days with iOS 5 installed on an iPhone 4
The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.
This past Monday, Apple released the first developer preview beta version of iOS 5, the company's newest mobile OS for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. iOS 5 adds things like Notification Center, a one-stop-shop for all you text messages, emails, missed calls, etc., iMessage, a feature that allows messaging between iOS 5 devices, Newsstand, Reminders, system-level Twitter integration, and PC-free setup.
We at It's All Tech were lucky enough to install the beta on a Verizon iPhone 4 the day it was released and have been using it since. Overall, iOS 5 is a big improvement when compared to iOS 4. Apple took many of the things it knew was missing from iOS and integrated it into the new OS. Smaller things like custom vibration patterns for contacts and LED flash notifications are also coming in iOS 5, and are things the jailbroken community has had for years.
Many believe that Apple should have integrated these features into iOS much sooner than they actually did, and because of this, those people are calling iOS 5 a “catchup” to the rest of the industry. Personally, I have to agree with this. Simple features like location-based weather and notifications that don't interrupt you when you're in an app should have been there since the iOS 3 days.
But, without further ado, here are our thoughts on iOS 5 after using it for six days on our iPhone:
- Notification Center is a huge improvement. When you begin using the banners that appear at the top of the screen to notify you of something, you'll really notice how bad (or “not great” if you prefer) the current notification system in iOS 4 is. Notification Center has a slick UI, and the fact that it includes weather and stocks widgets makes it a little more informative. But, we'd still like to see some Wi-Fi on/off, Bluetooth on/off, etc. switches up top too, Apple.
- While we haven't gotten a really good chance to use iMessage, it seems nearly identical to BlackBerry's Messenger service (just with a much improved UI). I'm sure as more people begin to install iOS 5 on their devices, iMessage will be used much more, not to mention the fact that it's integrated seamlessly into the Messages app.
- Newsstand isn't a feature I see myself using a lot, but it's nice to have for some. I usually stick with reading RSS feeds, not magazines. For people like me who won't be using Newsstand all that much, I'd like to see Apple add an option to hide it from the home screen.
- Reminders is a useful app, but needs to be integrated more. The UI seems completely separate from the rest of iOS and Reminders as a whole would just make more sense to be integrated into the Calendar app on iOS. Location-based reminders seems like an interesting concept, if it works well.
- System-level Twitter integration is something I have been debating in iOS 5. While Twitter-lovers will surely enjoy this, I'm a little skeptical about it (for obvious reasons). Also, what if someone, like me, already paid for a Twitter app from the App Store? Apple requires you to use the official Twitter app for Twitter integration.
- The ability to use the camera from the lock screen has been very useful. Improvements like grids and easy access to HDR photos are welcome additions. There are a few bugs with this feature, but this is something you can expect in beta 1 software.
- PC-free setup: one word – FINALLY! Apple's been living in 2008 for the past three + years it seems. We're in 2011: we shouldn't need to plug our device into our computer to set it up. Wireless syncing, although not enabled in the iOS 5 beta yet, seems like it will be very useful for syncing on-the-go. iCloud and over-the-air software updates will surely complement this feature nicely.
- Mail: you can finally flag messages in iOS' Mail app. The poor Mail app in previous versions of iOS has surely kept some business users away from the platform. But, it seems Apple is finally realizing that Mail needs to be improved and they did just that in iOS 5. You also now have rich text formatting in Mail (like bold, underline, and italics). I'm not sure why Apple chose to integrate this only into Mail, but hope that will change in future beta releases.
Overall performance of iOS 5 hasn't been up-to-par with iOS 4, but isn't far off either. The same can be said for battery life. As you can expect, beta 1 has its issues and these things will be addressed in future beta releases to developers.
Did you have the chance to install iOS 5 on one of your devices? What do you think of it so far? Let us know in the comments below!