Apple iOS 5: need to know

iWork apps running iOS devices

Apple iOS 5: what you need to know

Apple has previewed iOS 5, the next major release of its mobile operating system. There are lots of new features, both major and minor, which will not only be of interest to existing iPhone and iPad users, but also for users of other platforms who are simply curious or are considering switching. There are still some unanswered questions though.

New Notifications system

Notifications in iOS has remained unchanged since the release of the original 2G iPhone in 2007 and was one of our biggest criticisms of iOS 4. That looks set to change though thanks to a revamped Notifications system in iOS 5.

Instead of a modal dialog box, simple swipe your finger down from the status bar to see a list of notifications, such as missed calls and texts, as well as app alerts. When new notifications first appear, they show up as pop-up balloons at the top of the screen which recede from view if not tapped on immediately. New notifications also appear on the lock screen swiping across the notification take you to the appropriate app directly.

It's likely that third-party apps will have to be updated to support this new notifications system, but Apple has yet to confirm this. The new notifications system appears similar to the ones found in Android and webOS, but with a few unique twists, such as notifications appearing on the lock screen.

Apple is integrating Twitter directly into iOS 5, unusual for a third party service.

Twitter integration

Apple is integrating Twitter directly into iOS 5, unusual for a third party service. Once your Twitter account details have been entered into the system wide Settings app, you'll be able to tweet photos from the Camera app, tweet links from within Safari and addresses from within Google Maps, for example.

Although Twitter integration has been a feature of HTC Sense and many other Android user interface overlays, the system level integration in iOS should make it easier for developers to integrate Twitter into their own apps. It's not clear whether iOS 5 will support multiple Twitter accounts though and whether you'll still need a separate Twitter app for tweeting simple text messages (perhaps iMessages will support tweeting? More on this below).