iOS5 has been out for a few days now as Apple made it available to developers last Monday. As registered iPhone developers we were able to install and review iOS5 on one of our free iPhone 4s.
At first I was a little skeptical of the benefits of iOS5 over what was already on this iPhone, which of course was jailbroken so already had improved notifications, a better messenger service, rich text editing, SBSettings etc etc etc. Basically this iPhone, running OS4.2.1, had all of the features Apple has included in iOS5.
After restoring the iPhone and loading up the developer version of iOS5, I was quite pleasantly surprised with what I got.
- Notifications are a huge improvement. A subtle but noticeable icon on the top of the screen now informs me of my updates without a big blue box popping up and interrupting what I’m doing. The notification center actually looks and behaves exactly like the tool I had previously installed on the iPhone, courtesy of the jailbreak community. Apple are definitely building on the apps produced by 3rd parties. I wouldn’t say Apple’s own version is any better or any worse.
- Custom vibration and LED flash settings for contacts is a great addition, and again an almost perfect copy of a jailbreak app…
- iMessage looks great, a massive improvement over the current messaging app, but I have to say, not as good as BiteSMS, the messaging app I used to have on the jailbroken iPhone.
- Lock Screen Reminders – probably helpful to some people, but I rarely use the calendar. Location based reminders is an awesome concept, and should work very well.
- Twitter integration isn’t something that interests me, nor 9 out of 10 of my friends. In our opinion, this should be an option as I don’t use Twitter and have no interest in it being on my iPhone.
- Using the camera from the lockscreen is another great idea that has been around forever in the jailbreak community. The better feature on the standard iPhone camera are an improvement, but also available in 3rd party apps.
- PC-free setup. The biggest qualm I had with my first iPhone was that I needed a PC to use the thing. And at the time, I didn’t have a PC! Finally Apple can provide a phone that doesn’t need a PC to work – just like every other phone maker! Welcome to 2011, Apple!
- Wireless synchronising is another massive improvement. The addition of iCloud will make this even better, although I am concerned how this will impact on my data useage.
Overall, iOS5 is exactly what Apple and the iPhone has been missing. I have been quite harsh on Apple simply because these features are so late. They should have been there 2 years ago. They also offer no improvement over what we can already have on iOS4 with a jailbreak.
As this iPhone is the one I use for testing purposes I will keep iOS5 on it for now, especially as I like the idea of iCloud. But I also like to change the look of my iPhone, and the addition of theme selection has not appeared on iOS5, which I find surprising as it is so popular in the jailbreak community and is THE reason many people jailbreak their iPhones.
Come on Apple, do try to keep up. And perhaps, even get ahead of the game – do what you always used to be so good at – be innovative. Then you will beat the jailbreakers.