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Apple iOS 5 hands-on preview - new challenge for Android

Posted by Mohd Khairun Nasir Saadi On - - 0 comments

iOS 5 won't be ready for the masses until this Fall, but lucky developers -- and eager tech bloggers -- are able to get in on the action right now. We just got done downloading the 730MB BETA, and have decided to turn our iPhone 4 and iPad 2 into guinea pigs for all the newness. Apple says that there are over 200 new features baked into the updated OS, and we've run through the biggies from Notification Center to Twitter to that oh-so-convenient split keyboard for you -- all you need to do is click after the break.

Many of the new features in iOS 5 are things we've been sitting, waiting, and wishing for since the iPhone first launched. Complete with a more robust notification scheme and a brand new messaging protocol, Apple has filled in many of the gaps that have left it behind other OSs like Android and webOS.

When you first power up the device, you're greeted with an option to select your WiFi network -- a necessary step for all the cloud-related goodies and WiFi sync features that are now present in the OS. Once you're online, you enter your Apple ID, or can sign up for one directly on the device you're using -- which is great for those of us living in a post PC era. After that you get prompted on whether or not you'd like to use iCloud -- which you obviously do -- followed by an option to use the free Find My iPhone service. Finally, after deciding whether or not you'd like to share your usage stats with Apple or not (take a guess at what we chose), you're up and running to "start using the most advanced iOS ever" -- Apple's words, not ours. Now that the hard stuff is out of the way, let's get on to what you've most been waiting for: the new stuff.

Notification Center

We've lamented about iOS's seemingly archaic popup notification scheme since we received our first text message ever on an iPhone -- and then scratched our heads even more when we got our first push notification on an iPad. Apple has taken the Android approach in iOS 5, and has made a home for all notifications in a drawer that is toggled by a swipe down from the top of the screen. When you get a notification, it pops in from the top with a different color so it's not missed, and if not addressed it disappears with a rotating-cube transition. It's quite nice, and looks remarkably like the MobileNotifier jailbreak app -- which is probably not a coincidence given that developer's most recent employer. We should also mention that weather and stock updates are now nested in the notifications tray for quick access, and it updates by location automatically.

Notifications also live on the homescreen, though it looks as if they only appear when a new notification has appeared after the device has been locked. Meaning, if you get an email and don't read it while you're doing something else, notifications don't show up on the homescreen. However, if you get one while the device is locked, all notifications appear and you're given the option to swipe directly to any one of your choosing. We hope this becomes an option before this OS goes gold, but for now, it's simply so much better than what we had before, so we don't want to get too picky (especially in a BETA).



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