First Impressions: iOS 5 for iPhone
By James Lenhart

After setting up WiFi and signing into iTunes I was greeted with a dialog box saying “Merge with iCloud?” — why yes, please! A few more questions and I’m “ready to start using the most advanced iOS ever.”

Love at first sight?
Right off the bat I noticed the orange icon for an app called “Music”. Seeing as I’m not a developer and that I haven’t installed any beta versions onto my device, this is all new to me. Instead of an iPod app, now I’m forced to watch videos in a separate “Videos” app. However, that was merely a first glance of the initial home screen — serious judgement has not been passed yet.

I usually like to go into the settings first and see what’s looking different. There are some new items, but notice how the new buttons are more “radio-styled” instead of sliders. Inside iCloud you’ll see all the things that can be sync’d — this is where you can turn on Photo Stream which will get into later. Going back to settings and into Twitter you’ll see the place where you can link your account(s). This will allow you to login to apps that support Twitter as an authorization method. You really owe it to yourself to go in and check out each of the settings; after all, it’s where all the good stuff is.

Camera, Photo Stream, iCloud Control Panel for PC
One of the things I really wanted to try was the camera on the lock screen. It took me a second to figure out where it was (I was thinking it would just be there), but you need to double tab your home button to reveal the app icon. It loads faster than iOS 4, has an improved UI, and allows you to edit the photo. While it’s not jam packed full of editing options, you are able to crop the image, auto enhance, rotate, and reduce red-eye. This will surely save a few steps in the long run. Those who are using Photo Stream can have their pictures automatically backed up to the cloud. In my testing, syncing photos was almost instant, however, if you’re a PC user you’ll want to download the iCloud Control Panel (nope, syncing doesn’t work through iTunes).

Notifications Bar
Next up, we got the notifications bar which I remembered about because I received a message. I figured that would be a good time to start playing with messages too, which has the built in iMessage functionality. As soon as I opened Messages and read the first one, I could tell there was something different about the text. It looks like an innershadow, which gives it a bolder look — very clear to say the least. Also, they made it nicer to see what someone has said as you reply. Before, you would need to back out of the message and re-enter to hide the keyboard — not anymore. I honestly did not get a chance to play with iMessage, so back to notifications. If you remember what I said about checking out the settings area, you will find a notifications section which allows you to change how apps alert you. You have three options; none, banners, and alerts. The banners appear at the very top and go away which is much better than the annoying blue bubble. Additionally, you can select to have notifications appear in your lock screen as well. Dragging your finger from the top will reveal a notifications bar which is decked out with the weather, stock ticker, and app notifications. Notifications are grouped, so you can clear them individually or go into the app with a simple tap. Overall, this makes a lot more sense and I’m happy with everything I’ve seen coming out of the notifications portion. As a former Android user this is one of those things I miss — that being said, I don’t miss Android.

Little Things Matter
Some of the smaller things that really made a difference and increased iOS’s value for me are Twitter integration into the native apps, and the new Reminders app. Tweeting a photo or sharing a link through Safari is easy — as it should be. And the last thing is Reminders, which is something I will use everyday. Particularly, Reminders has a feature that enables you to set a notification as you leave a place based on your GPS location. This is great if you want to remember to do something before you come home from work, or whatever the case might be.

I know some have a lot of bad to say, and couldn’t see the good if you wrapped it in aluminum foil and placed it in sunlight. However, I have to say this has so many great additions on top of what were already considered good by many — if not amazing. I’m sure I will run into bugs and issues tomorrow, but this was my initial impression and honest opinion on release day. If you want a more refined opinion you should listen to this week’s podcast on Saturday.

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  • Voicu

    Very bad OS….and dissapointing!! Android is the way to go…R.I.P. Steve Jobs, R.I.P. iPhone looks like…oh well time to move on