Apple iOS 5 launched with over 200 new features

iPhone 4

Apple has uncloaked its iOS 5 operating system for iPhone and iPad users, with 1,500 new APIs and over 200 new features.

Developers can get their hands on iOS 5 in beta form from today to start creating apps, although general availability will not be until autumn, Apple revealed during the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco today.

As many expected it would, Apple has made some changes to notifications on the OS. In particular it has introduced the Notification Centre, where users will find all of their notifications in one place.

Notifications no longer interrupt apps either, instead appearing at the top of the screen, meaning users can simply swipe down if they wish to view the note.

The lock screen also shows all missed notifications with icons. From that screen, users can slide a finger across a notification to go straight to the related app.

Single sign-on with Twitter means user just log in once and then tweet from all Twitter-enabled apps, such as Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps.

The Newsstand addition, meanwhile, has placed subscription magazines in one place within the iBooks store. Once any of them are downloaded, they are placed in the Newsstand app.

Safari updates

Within Safari, Apple has introduced Reader, which takes out all advertisements and leaves the user with just the images and words they want to look at.

A Reading List in the browser syncs with all iOS devices as well as Safari on Mac and Windows, meaning users can go back save articles so they can be read later on different devices.

Tab browsing has arrived on iOS 5's Safari as well. Before tabs were seen only as minimised thumbnails, instead of traditional desktop-style tabs. That has now been rectified.

The new Reminders feature is basically like a to-do list, but with geolocation features. It can notify users of an event depending on their location.

"All of us are constantly creating list of things some have times, places associated with them. Let's get rid of all these scraps of paper and store on the phone," said Scott Forstall, senior vice president for iPhone software at Apple.

Getting visual

With the camera, iOS 5 now lets users go straight to taking snaps without having to fully unlock their device. Users can now pinch to zoom within their iPhone or iPad camera as well, whilst the volume up button can be used to take a photo.

iOS 5 includes an updated Mail app too with improved security, in particular support for S/MIME services. As an example, if an e-mail is encrypted over S/MIME, a lock icon will show next to the recipient's name in the to' bar.

A split keyboard can be initiated by a user if they wish to type with their thumbs rather than fingers. Whenever you change to this option, it will remain across apps.

Post-PC world

There is now no need to hook up iPads and iPhones to computers anymore, as Apple has made software upgrades all over the internet.

"We're living in a post-PC world. We're ushering it in. People want iPads and iPhones as their only devices," Forstall said.

"Now you take the iPhone out of the box and you just see a giant Welcome."

The new iMessage app supplements the old SMS/MMS app and now works on iPads and iPod Touches, meaning Apple users can communicate with one another across devices, rather than just being limited to their iPhones.

Messages can be sent either over 3G or Wi-Fi, with all data transmitted being encrypted.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.