iOS 5: The Software Steve Jobs Always Thought You Deserved [Review]

iOS 5: The Software Steve Jobs Always Thought You Deserved [Review]

Back in March, at the next to last Apple keynote he would ever attend, Steve Jobs coined the phrase “post-PC world.” The usual cynics tittered at the time, and perhaps are still tittering, but as he often was, Steve was right: day by day, the iPhone in our back pockets or the iPad in our messenger bags are the most important computers in our lives.

For iOS 5, Apple put their money where Steve’s mouth was. Apple was going to prove to everyone that the umbilical between iOS and a Mac or PC could be cut.

Apple’s strategy was simple. They would go through iOS, identify every feature that assumed or required a PC, and radically retool it so that it relied on the cloud instead. With iOS 5, Apple stores all of your data — your mail, your calendar, your address book, your photos, your music, your ebooks, even your Doodle Jump save games — in the iCloud. iTunes Match hurls your complete music collection onto Apple’s servers, available to download anywhere and anytime without pulling out your Apple Connector cable. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi Syncing makes sure that if your iPhone or iPad does need to talk to your PC, it can do so just by being plugged into a wall socket and within stone’s throw of your PC.

All of this would be ambitious enough, but Apple didn’t stop there. They added major new features to almost every core iOS app: Mail, Safari, Camera, Calendar and more. They integrated Twitter sharing into the core of the operating system. They made a serious play for the hearts of magazine publishers with Newsstand. They totally overhauled the way iOS handles notifications. They introduced over the air updates. And then they introduced their own new iOS device messaging system that threatens the bottom line of every wireless carrier’s extortionate, hopelessly overpriced SMS texting plans.

So now iOS 5 is here, and the question is: has Apple severed iOS’s innate tether to the PC, or will iOS 5 be remembered as a smaller interim step towards the post-PC world Steve so presciently envisioned?

We’ve been playing with iOS 5 for months. Here’s what we think: by gum, Apple’s done it.

Table of Contents

Page 1

Intro – John Brownlee

Page 2

• iMessage – Buster Heine
• Notification Center & Widgets – Killian Bell
• Newsstand – John Brownlee
• Reminders – Killian Bell
• Twitter Integration – Killian Bell

Page 3

• iCloud – John Brownlee
• WiFi Sync – Killian Bell

Page 4

• iTunes Match – Leander Kahney

Page 5

• Mail – John Brownlee
• Calendar – John Brownlee
• Camera – Buster Heine
• Safari – John Brownlee

Page 6

Conclusion – John Brownlee

Next Page: iMessage, Newsstand, Reminders, Twitter Integration

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

  • Cstephens7861

    Wasn’t Steve at WWDC?

  • bplano

    I have only one complaint, and that was using the word “vista” in the conclusion… even if you weren’t directly referring to Windows Vista XD

  • brownlee

    Ha. Damn, you’re right. I totally forgot. Updated!

  • gregbraddock

    the umbilical cord has most certainly been cut! haven’t hooked my phone up via usb since updating to the GM. iCloud backups for the iPhone are automatic (which i didn’t even realize) and iTunes syncing is wireless and runs in the background, not rendering your device useless for 5 minutes. 

  • Remy Manuel

    Doesn’t Reminders only work on an iPhone because of the location aspect of it? If I want to be reminded to feed the cat when I get home and put it in via my iPhone it will sync with all other iDevices right? Most of them are probably already at home….

    They could of course have build in the option to limit the location function to the machine you are using at that moment. So iPad 3G users could use it on their iPads when they desired… But apparently Apple chose to limit it to iPhones (which are carried around more often).

  • brownlee

    Our point is really just that there’s no reason not to allow iPad 3G users to use Reminders. I carry my iPad everywhere with me, just like my phone.

  • MacHead34

    But what time will iOS5 be released?! Yes, I understand that most of you have it already, which I  don’t know how. How much time will it take to download and upload onto my iPhone or iPad.

  • MattHanterlar9765

    people all over the world make $87 an hour online and their check is more than $6000 month after month just working on the computer for few houres, more home workers needed immediately,This system is so simple that anyone with a computer can make money FAST, Read about it and follow the steps to get started here, http://gzg.in/9583

  • TonnyHartley876465

    people all over the world make $87 an hour online and their check is more than $6000 month after month just working on the computer for few houres, more home workers needed immediately,This system is so simple that anyone with a computer can make money FAST, Read about it and follow the steps to get started here, http://gzg.in/9583

  • God

    itunes match – what about songs ripped in 320kbps are they replaced by the 256kbps aac version?

  • Andrew Griffin

    Didn’t unified inbox come in iOS 4? Is that a mistake, or have they changed something?

  • dan

    I’m thinking 10:00 a.m. pacific they’ll start rolling it out. I’m on the east coast, so about 40 min from now. plug in your device, and hit “check for updates”. The servers are going to get slammed, so you may have to check a few times before itunes finally says that there is an update available. As for how long it will actually take to download, install etc. It all depends on the size of ios 5, your connection etc.

  • dwplay11

    iTunes match question:
    My brother started his own account when the iPod first came out. He downloaded a lot of songs. I wanted my own account soon after and began downloading songs of my own in my own account. We now share accounts. Is this going to effect iTunes match? If so, how?

  • Andy Cohen

    In the cloud, yes. Though you can avoid the downgrade by syncing the old fashioned way even if just for those songs in particular. It’s not free either, by default the cloud will only hold the music you purchased through iTunes, the rest of your library will cost you $25 per year in “cloud rent” It’s not a perfect service by far. But remember that it’s only the first iteration and apple is always improving their services. For some users, this will be a welcomed convenience, the rest can ignore it.

  • Andy Cohen

    I think that’s probably a good guess. And yes, the servers are already being slammed, about every other “check for updates” gets a “cannot connect to server” response on my MBP. I can already tell, I’m getting nothing accomplished today!

  • Andy Cohen

    The people who appear to already have it, are part of the developer program and have been toying with betas, they too are waiting to download the official release, like everyone else

  • joewaylo

    I’m not too fond about the iTunes Match.
    For one: If you live in a shotty 3G area, you’re not gonna be able to receive music.
    Two: You’re talking about redownloading several gigabytes of music songs when you’re ready to listen to it again?

    If by chance you were in a Wi-Fi HotSpot or at your house with Wi-Fi, this would work fine. But you’re talking about 90% of iPhone and iPad 3G users who are probably not ever home unless they work-at-home.

    On top of that, some work places don’t even have a 3G signal. Secured facilities have no 3G access either.

  • kelly_albertine

    APPLE TV UPDATE IS LIVE !

  • GDal

    Time to get ready for iOS 5! OSX 10.7.2 is available!!!! Downloading, of course!

  • Cortney Taylor

    iOS 5 update just went live. Sweet!

  • Photography Training

    Its out now. Downloading ion for iPad :-)

  • Freeh2o

    ios5 is avaiabel for dl

  • GDal

    SWEET! iOS5!!!!

  • Andy Cohen

    If all the songs are on one computer and indexed by iTunes than the $25 subscription should index the songs not purchased by your account as your non-iTunes purchases and Mach them in the cloud anyway. If you only use the free version however, apple will only store the purchases for each account in their respective iCloud storage spaces. This will not effect the library on your computer or what you have stored on your devices. It’s simply a convinience, providing portability and remote access, it’s main purpose in my opinion for most users will be the automatic syncing of new music purchases to all devices

  • Andy Cohen

    iOS 5 now available in iTunes!!!!

  • dan

    I’m so stoked I’m home, today! I had my ipad plugged in, at about 12:55. So, once 1:00 pm rolled around, I hit “check for updates”, after 3 or 4 tries it finally acknowledged that an update was available.I have two dl’s going right now for mine and my gf’s ipads. Yeah, I think it’s fair to say the only thing I’ll be doing today is messing with iOS 5! Plus, it’s raining outside;)

  • Frank Lowney

    I think that it’s a step in the right direction.  What’s missing, of course, is all the stuff that I have and want to intelligently sync among devices that didn’t increase Apple revenues.  The iTunes Match concept won’t work at that scale — there’s just too much stuff.  

    So what’s the missing piece?  I think that I need an interim cloud — something between iCloud and my various devices.  Something I own. Something upon which is stored all of the free podcasts I’ve downloaded, all of the AppleScript and Automator workflows I’ve developed, all of the eBooks I’ve created and all of the preferences I’ve set for hundreds of apps, desktop and otherwise.  

  • Frank Lowney

    I think that it’s a step in the right direction.  What’s missing, of course, is all the stuff that I have and want to intelligently sync among devices that didn’t increase Apple revenues.  The iTunes Match concept won’t work at that scale — there’s just too much stuff.  

    So what’s the missing piece?  I think that I need an interim cloud — something between iCloud and my various devices.  Something I own. Something upon which is stored all of the free podcasts I’ve downloaded, all of the AppleScript and Automator workflows I’ve developed, all of the eBooks I’ve created and all of the preferences I’ve set for hundreds of apps, desktop and otherwise.  

  • AndrewMclave

    not everyone has wi fi so untill syncing is doable via 3G for those of us who need this option, ios5 is far from post pc. In fact, this option may appease the impovrished wireless carriers somewhat and allow them to feel less hard done by, the poor guys! (not) 

  • Chris

    hm…how about sending iMessages when I’m offline? like when I have once sent an iMessage to an iOS 5 user, so my Phone indentifies him and marks him blue, but I am offline..does it send an SMS instead? I hope they didn’t forget the people who don’t have data flatrates/no 3g reception

  • S. Mulji

    You mean like an iServer? I agree with you completely.  MS has a great solution with Windows Home Server.  If Apple brought out a solution similar to that, that would be a great solution.

  • Srf490

    very good review, lots of detail

  • Soho22

    Yeah I can’t wait to sync 64GB over 3G.

  • Soho22

    I like how half of the additions are either missing from iPad or are only half there. No lock screen widgets, no camera button in lockscreen, no siri even though it can handle it, bah

  • cricket477

    My ipad doesnt even backup it just comes up with an error how do i fix this

  • JoeSchmo

    “It just works”….yeah right…error 3200…Apple, join the ranks of other tech firms who can’t match the hype with reality.

  • Gregory

    I thought so too, at least on the iPhone since I use it all the time.  Maybe this was not available on iPad?

  • Lee Hankins

    My iPhone’s screen changed to the Apple Logo with the standard loading icon and now iTunes is stuck on ‘Verifying iPhone Restore with Apple’.  Do I have a brick”” :s

  • AuthorOfThings

    I thought that it was streamed to his home.

  • bbneo

    My last reason for booting into Windows is gone.  

  • A. Gorilla

    I read somewhere, either here or on 9to5mac, that when you purchased or updated apps in the App Store in iOS 5 it would stay in the App Store rather than ‘minimising’ the store and returning to the home screen (a totally pointless exercise in my opinion). The purpose of the new feature is so multiple apps and updates can be purchased quickly.

    Has anyone else heard of this functionality? It certainly isn’t working on my iPhone 4 (with iOS 5, after many errors and restore cycles…)

  • shy

    A friend of mine once told me that his Mac got better with age: either the OS got smaller/more efficient, or new functionality would come along and refresh the user experience. Now I know what he was talking about :)

    Excited by all the changes, though I’ll give iTunes Match give a miss for now. 

    Great article. In Google’s defence, I have been using their ActiveSync on an iPhone for years, for mail, contact and calendars, and it has been a seamless user experience.

  • Chaz Waterman

    Easily the best and most comprehensive review I’ve seen short of Tim’s own presentation. Well done, and thank you! My update took forever, and reading this helped pass the time and get me more excited!

  • Dave Perkins

    I would have preferred to see newsstand as an app instead of a “smart folder”.  I have a “media” folder with all my media apps in it, including the iBookstore.  I would love to put newsstand in there too, but I can’t.  It just begs the question….when will Apple allow us to officially hide apps?

  • Es Loon

    My ‘Send As SMS’ was OFF, yet I could still receive my own text message (yes it was green in colour and it said text). Bullshit!!

  • Yuri Kofman

    Excellent!

  • Andrew Griffin

    Nope, it’s in the current (or just not current) iOS 4 build, too.

  • bernhardush

    I was typing a comment here to ask why iPhone must be connected to a power source in order to sync over Wi-Fi. It seems like an unnecessary, annoying limitation (after all, syncing is not an overly power intensive operation, is it?).

    Well, while I was composing the question, I answered it myself. It must be to prevent iPhone’s battery from dying while syncing. I guess that an abrupt disruption of the syncing process is something you don’t want to happen.

    Sure, it is possible that the Wi-Fi goes down while syncing or that the USB cable is plugged out, but I guess that in such cases iPhone does some sort of recovery so that nothing bad happens. Now, if iPhone dies during syncing due to the battery, that would be a different thing.

    Hopefully Apple will soon be able to safely enable true wireless syncing in one of the next versions of iOS.

  • Fitz

    Reminders app sucks.  It doesn’t give you your reminder/alarm until you turn the screen on…at least for me.  What’s the use in that?

  • Fitz

    siri isn’t a part of iOS5.  it’s only for the iPhone 4s

  • Rob Madrid

    Love the split keyboard, hunt and peck is a pain, my fingers are too big, usually I go to my PC. BTW I consider SJ greatest achievement to be getting users like me to seriously consider switching to Mac when I upgrade to a new PC next year. It wasn’t till I bought two iPad 2nd gen the switch over was utterly painless, this vs months to get vista working right

  • Rob Madrid

    Love the split keyboard, hunt and peck is a pain, my fingers are too big, usually I go to my PC. BTW I consider SJ greatest achievement to be getting users like me to seriously consider switching to Mac when I upgrade to a new PC next year. It wasn’t till I bought two iPad 2nd gen the switch over was utterly painless, this vs months to get vista working right

  • michaelra

    This can’t be true? I haven’t had a chance to play with the Reminder but there’s no point in a reminder if you have to turn the screen on first

  • Fr

    Article is wrong. Hitting Sync Now will sync, plugged in or not. Syncing is automatic when plugged-in though. Provided your Mac/PC is running!

  • Friso

    Uhm, the unified Inbox was a feature of iOS 4. This and other mistakes make me wonder… Was the OS actually reviewed hands-on?

  • Jossef

    I have had iOS5 since last night. I don’t think I understand the Notifiction Center. The only way I see to use it is to get to your home screen and pull it down. Why do I need to do that? If I am on my home screen I can already see that I have mail or a message or a missed call!! It says that we can see the notifications in our lock screen. I have that turned on and still there are no notifications on the lock screen.

  • Friso

    You can pull it down on any screen. Also, notifications on your lock screen only appear when you received them while phone was locked, like missed calls, messages etc. Once you unlock, they’ll move into the pull-down sheet.

  • Pdrman

    The music app needs to change back to the ios4 ipod.  I can’t say enough negatives about the new music app.  I’m shocked that such a lousy app made it to production.  Hopefully they give an option for user interface in an update, and hopefully very quickly!

  • Rogueangt

    Apple forces you to add your device as if it was a new device (there is no way around this. I ran into the same problem with both my iPhone and iPad). If you install iOS 5 you WILL HAVE TO RECONFIGURE YOUR WHOLE DEVICE AND KISS ALL YOUR PREVIOUSLY INSTALLED APPS GOODBYE. AS AN ADDED KICK IN THE NUTS YOU WON’T GET SIRI UNLESS YOU JAILBREAK YOUR PHONE/IPAD) Apple really took a Microsoft approach and screwed everyone with this update…

  • Rogueagnt

    BEWARE!!!! iOS 5 will require you to register your device as a new device and wipe out everything to had on your iPhone/iPad!!!!

  • Drsjatu

    I am greatly disappointed that I cannot color code events in one calendar. Does anyone know of a calendar application that can do this. No I don’t want to use separate calendars to do this.

    I would also like to wirelessly sync my information to my PC . Ideas?

    SEK

  • Reinette

    Not true. Part of updating to iOS 5 is first backing up your current iPhone state, and then during the install/upgrade all of the previous settings and apps are restored.

  • Reinette

    Cozy. Via http://www.cozi.com, also in the app store. It is an app that allows you to assign different people different colors, and you can have personalized calendars, lists, everything. You can also email/ text yourself reminders as well.

  • Snow Angel22

    It actually first used to be a stand alone app, that is until about 3 months ago when Apple removed it from the app store so they could incorporate it into the new iPhone. It was also free, and rather funny. It didn’t always understand what I said, but it had a good sense of humour.

  • Reinette

    Syncing is doable over 3G in this iOS. It just takes a bit of looking.

  • Keating Fee

    not the case, idiot. in upgrading you first backup, once the upgrade is complete, all the info is reloaded onto ios5 device. Idiot. Don’t scare people with your own ignorance

  • Uniquified

    Kudos on the Jam/Style Council/Weller music screenshot!

  • Disasterarea

    iphone 4, turn on airplane mode, turn it off again, no carrier…. ever.
    Apple forgot ot was a PHONE.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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