Thoughts on iOS 5

I’m quite pleased that several of the features in my wishlist came true with the beta release of iOS 5. Not that I’ll actually be able to use them unless I buy a new iDevice, of course. MacRumors has an exhaustive list of all the new stuff, and there’s a lot of small changes in addition to the big news like notifications and iCloud. Weather and Calendar in particular have the exact features I wanted, with an hourly weather view and a week view in Calendar. In fact, the Weather app goes a step further and adds a “Current Location” forecast. For travelers, this is an awesome feature that I’m sad to admit I never thought of. iCloud has beefed up the App Store and addressed my complaints there, and true to my hopes the Photos app has new basic image editing. Even Music got a rework, primarily on the iPad. I can honestly say that the small changes are the most encouraging to me, since I was beginning to think that Apple had abandoned the original iPhone apps. Unfortunately, YouTube and Maps don’t seem to be getting any love. Perhaps that will change by fall, or else next year.

The new apps intrigue me, though a lot of developers are probably upset. Reminders could conceivably replace my current SpeedTask arrangement, but Reading List doesn’t look like it will be worth it. I mostly use Instapaper to read articles offline on my iPod when I’m not in Wi-Fi range, and Safari can’t replace that. I tend to side with Marco here, and I hope that the majority of developers will see more success. The Notes app has certainly spawned a massive amount of third-party text editors, so maybe something like that will happen here.

Newsstand will finally be the thing that gets me to read magazines online. The easy background updates, central location, and reasonable subscription prices just may turn the tide for digital publishing. I know it would for me.

Perhaps the most welcome feature is the ability to set up and manage an iDevice without access to a computer. It’s taken too long, but Apple’s implementation is polished and well thought-out. At least people will now update their phones. The real story is about making what is already the simplest mobile OS even more accessible to the average person. Without the need for a computer to sync and update, the post-PC world is coming together. I can’t wait.

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