As expected, Apple revealed the next major upgrade to their famous mobile platform during the WWDC keynote this morning.
First, availability: iOS 5 will be available as a developer seed today, with general availability later this fall.
It will be compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2, third and fourth generation iPod touch. It will be free for owners of all those devices.
Today, they walked through some major features of the new operating system.
This is an overhaul of the existing notification system in iOS which is in charge of telling you about missed calls, text messages, Push notifications and other events.
Previously, notifications would pop up over whatever you were doing and could not be reviewed at a later time if dismissed. With iOS 5, when you get a notification, it goes into the Notification Center which you can access at any time by swiping down from the top of the screen. That’s right, no more interruptions!
Newsstand is an integrated way to read the latest news stories from participating news outlets, such as Vanity Fair, Wired and others.
When you add a subscription to Newsstand, it will keep that news subscription up to date and download articles in the background for you.
From signing in to twitter, to sending a picture from the Camera app, sending an article from Mobile Safari, Twitter is integrated all over the operating system.
Apple has added a feature called Reader to Safari. On webpages that can be used with Reader, a button will appear allowing you to just show the story itself in a nicely formatted overlay.
A companion feature called Reading List allows you to save things you want to read later in a convenient place right inside Safari. A bonus feature of Reading List is that your saved items get pushed back to all your other iOS devices so you can pick up any of them and keep reading where you left off.
Tabs have also made their way into Safari.
This is a new system for keeping track of grocery lists and other events. Once you store an event, it can be triggered by you being in a specific location, or leaving a specific location, or a number of other criteria.
Apple added a way to quickly launch the Camera app from the lock screen, for those moments where you need to take a shot quickly. Just tap the home button twice and the Music controls will appear along with a new Camera button.
It’s also now possible to use the physical Volume button to take a photo. If that sounds like a familiar feature, it’s because Apple actually rejected an App for doing the same thing not too long ago.
The new Camera app also has pinch to zoom while you are preparing to take a picture, red eye reduction, crop and rotation right inside the App.
Mail in iOS 5 now has rich text formatting, so you can underline things, bold or italicize them, control indentation and so on.
You can also search within a message as well.
In a move sure to please some corporate users, Apple added support for S/MIME which allows messages to be encrypted when a certificate is available for the recipient.
The new Mail can also make use of the new system-wide dictionary much like the one many of us love on desktop Mac OS X.
The next release of iOS marks the last time you will ever have to tether your iOS device to a PC just to use it.
From now on, you can buy a new iOS device, pick it up and start using it without ever having to sync with a desktop or laptop. Of course, you can still do that if you want to, but you aren’t tied down any longer.
As part of that independence, software updates are now over the air. You can still restore with iTunes if needed, but you don’t have to plug your phone in just for an update.
When you do get an update, it will be much smaller than in years past, because they are now using “delta” updates. These are updates that only download only those parts of iOS that have actually changed. Before you would have to download a fairly large disk image every time Apple updated something, even for a minor security fix.
Game Center can now help you find new people to play with and new games to play using recommendations.
Apple has created a new messaging service exclusive to iOS devices. You can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and do group messaging.
Everything is encrypted so you can be sure no one is eavesdropping on your private messages with friends.
While you can already push YouTube and other videos to an Apple TV 2, now you can also push a live view of your iOS device to a local Apple TV 2 as well. This will obviously find favor among gamers, but there are also situations where a presentation might be given this way.
That’s right! It’s finally here! All you need to do is make sure your iOS device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as a PC or Mac, and you can sync with iTunes as if you had plugged in a cable.
Stay tuned for more!