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Apple iOS 5 review

There's a lot to like about the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, but some rough edges remain as we discover in our review.

Notifications

One of our biggest bugbears with previous versions of iOS was its intrusive notifications system. If you received a new email, tweet, text or if another event happened, such as an alarm going off, that notification would interrupt whatever you were doing and push away all previous notifications whether you'd taken care of them or not. Thankfully, there's a completely revamped notifications system in iOS 5.

The unobtrusive new notifications system in iOS 5.

The unobtrusive new notifications system in iOS 5.

Notifications now fade in and out of view as small, unobtrusive bubbles at the top of the screen. If you don't tap the bubble right away, the notifications are queued up for later perusal in a drawer that's pulled down from the top of the screen. The drawer can also contain optional weather and stock widgets sadly, third party widgets currently aren't allowed.

The new notifications tray in iOS 5 bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in Android.

The new notifications tray in iOS 5 bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in Android.

If it sounds almost identical to the notifications drawer in Android, that's because it is. The iOS system does have some niceties not found in vanilla Android though, such as notifications stacking up on the lock screen simply swipe across one of them to be taken to that app (after you've typed in any passcode lock of course). There doesn't seem to be any way of clearing all notifications from the drawer though you have to do it app-by-app.

New notifications system queued up on the lock screen in iOS 5.

New notifications system queued up on the lock screen in iOS 5.

In a rare fit of allowing user choice, you can choose which apps are allowed to show their notifications in the drawer. You can even choose whether to revert to the older, modal notifications or disable notifications for a specific app altogether. Sadly, if you have multiple calendars, you can't choose which ones can alert you with notifications. If you have lots of calendars, the notifications drawer can quickly become crowded with event/appointment notifications. Nevertheless, of all the improvements in iOS 5, this is our favourite if only because it was so sorely needed.

The new notifications system in iOS 5 is surprisingly customisable.

The new notifications system in iOS 5 is surprisingly customisable.

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