Yesterday marked the day the SMS, as we know it, began it’s painful death. Apple finally released their annual iOS update, with significant upgrades to it’s messaging service and notification system. With this upgrade Apple went directly to the throat of the Carriers, a direct attack that jeopardizes the existence one of the most obsolete services on the planet. Also, to make things juicier, RIM with it’s Blackberry Service, collapsed in a way that left many wondering if they should upgrade to a smarter phone, say Android or iPhone. Oh! How the mighty have fallen.
I’ve been an Apple user for the last 6 years, buying my first iMac when i jumped to the digital world of music making. I did have an iPod before that, but don’t consider that to be a real adoption of the brand. There slogan “It Just Works” has always lived up to that, but recently i’ve struggled with some services provided by Apple. MobileMe is probably one of few failed products that Apple has had. The idea is excellent, but the execution lacked in many areas. Call it server failures, inefficiency by the staff or whatever you want, the thing failed.
With iOS 5 there is also a major upgrade to Apple’s new strategy: iCloud. This is what MobileMe was supposed to be, except it’s, better? Well, we’ll have to see. What really bothers me about this system is Apple’s lack of infrastructure to support all the uploads it’s going to be receiving. Why my concern? Check out the struggles everybody is having just to download iOS 5. It’s all about download traffic.
If you are one of the lucky ones to already have the update, you’ll soon realize that even though there aren’t many standout things you’ll notice immediately, there are tons of little things to discover. Dictionary everywhere? Check. Split keyboard on you iPad? Check. Airport Utility? Check. WiFi Sync? Check. Twitter everywhere? Check. Tab Browsing? Check.
As you can see, there are many new features that probably will go unnoticed, but will be discovered during regular use. Be free to explore Settings as there are different little things you can configure that weren’t there before. For now, let’s go through the Top 10 Features:
1.-Notification Center: This has to be the best feature on this new update. Gone are the blue windows that appeared just when you were about to destroy some pigs on Angry Birds. There is now a new elegant and functional way copied from Android, and as all Apple integrations, it just works. Now, whenever you get a new notification, it comes as a little bar on the top part of the screen letting you tap on it to go directly to the App. If you want to go to the Notification Center you just go to the top of the screen en slide your finger downwards and bring down the screen where there are a couple of widgets from Apple (no word when Apps will be able to integrate this cool feature), one for the Weather, and the other one for Stocks (wtf?!). Notification are then shown in the order you specified in the Settings Menu.
2.-iMessages: The killer app for the Blackberry now comes to the iPhone, iPad and iTouch in a new an improved way. With iMessages, you can seamlessly text message your friends for free. You only need an Apple ID (email) an iOS device and a WIFI connection. The beauty of it, it’s that it is integrated to the previous messages icon, and works over any Mac iOS product. The Blackberry service needs a phone line to work, and as you may have noticed yesterday, it needs the RIM Servers to work. LOW BLOW! One of the cool things i noticed is that it gets the Apple treatment. Whenever your going to send a message to somebody, the system automatically knows if the person is subscribed to the iMessages service. Cool! I love how Apple protects me from the greedy Carriers that have been charging unnecesary fees for SMS and MMS, when we all know that Apps like Whats App, Ping Chat, Palringo, Facebook, MSN Messenger, etc have been letting it do for free for some time now. Knockout!
3.-iCloud: This is supposed to be one of the main features Apple has been trying to sell us. Weather this is going to work or not will be proved with time. For now let’s start with the basics. iCloud is a service that lets you store information on the internet. This could be Photos, Calendars, Emails, Documents, Bookmarks and Music, the latter will be revamped on the last week of October featuring what Apple is calling, iTunes in the cloud. You essentially pay 25 dlls to authorize your whole library throughout your iOS devices. This could potentially liberate much of your hard drive space and leave you a faster computer. The coin is still up in the cloud for this feature, on paper it sounds like MobileMe all over again. UGHH!
4.-Reminders: A simple app yet powerful to the ever forgetful humans like me. I love this feature because it is very simple. You just write the reminder and then check it whenever you finish the task. It also has a very cool feature, a location-based alert, which are triggered when you arrive or leave a certain place where your task is or was going to take place.
5.-Safari and Twitter: I mention both of these features in the same number because they work together. Safari for the iPad now has Tab Browsing, which works pretty good for the large screen. I understand the reasoning behind not bringing it to the iPhone 4, but still, i love to moan. Why no Tab Browsing for the iPhone? Safari does feature faster loading, the reader option, and a read later feature that basically saves the web page so you can read it later. Twitter is all over the place. You can tweet about anything, anywhere in your device. You need to have the Twitter App downloaded in your device, then use a single sing up on the settings menu and Voila! Ready to Tweet!
Miscellaneous: Some of the little things you’ll be noticing here and there worth noting: Split Keyboard: for the iPad, whenever you want you just pull the keyboard to the sides and pull it up or down wherever you feel it better suits your fingers. Camera Shortcut: just press the home button twice and you have quick access to your camera when it matters most. It also uses the volume up button as a shutter. PC Free and WIFI: you can now sync your iDevice with iTunes over WIFI. OTA updates: no more 800 mb updates to your OS, it now only downloads the parts that it needs to update. Mail: Editing features for mail like, bold, italic, underline. Multitasking Gestures (iPad): Just like in Lion, if you use your four fingers, you can bring up your apps, allowing you to switch apps without the use of the home button. Newsstand: This one is pretty useless to me. 6.99 Issues? Come on! That is crazy stupid expensive. I understand that the printed version cost that much because of paper costs, but come on, digital? Airplay Mirroring: I haven’t played with this feature yet, but it sounds really cool to be able to use your iPad 2 on your TV over WIFI and Apple TV.
Overall: I really like the new update. I don’t think it’s particularly revolutionary, but it does address some of the major issues plaguing Apple mobile devices. The gap between iOS and other Mobile OS’s is getting thinner, no more must have features left in the cloud. The main thing going for Apple is still that it works, and it works beautifully. They take their time to polish their products and it shows. I wish iMessages was a stand alone app, that way you could see exactly who has iOS 5 installed. Even though you don’t have the obsolete PIN number, you still need your contact in the contact lists with their Apple ID. Who has the messages? Who knows, have to ask individually. I hope that in the next update, iOS automatically tells you who has it. Other than that, all is cool in iOS Land.