During Apple’s annual WWDC event, the newest version of iOS 5 was previewed showing a new notification system, deep Twitter integration and computer-less sync.
Details have been scarce on iOS 5 but today Apple previewed the newest features of the mobile OS.
Scott Forstall took the stage and gave some details on growth. Over 200 million iOS devices have been sold making iOS the number one mobile OS with 44% of the market share.
Other iOS related statistics included 130 million books downloaded since iBook launched on iOS 4 last year. The App Store now contains 425,000 Apps, 90,00 of those made specifically for the iPad and have contributed to 14 billion downloads in 3 years of operation.
Forstall showed off the new version of iOS with 200 new features and 1500 APIs
As expected, Apple is improving notifications on iOS devices in version 5. Forstall addressed the annoying nature of notifications interrupting you and the lack of use they had on the lock screen. To solve the problem, iOS 5 will have a notification center to house all notifications and is accessible anywhere in the OS. If information is updated, it will be shown in Notification Center.
A small portion of the menu bar will alert you to a new notification but will go away after a few seconds. Multitouch gestures will dictate whether you go to the App with the corresponding notification or to view more. Swiping on notifications will work on the lock screen as well and will take you to the corresponding App.
News Stand is Apple’s response to content publishing on iOS. Most publishers including National Geographic are on board. This will be the iBooks Store equivalent for magazines. New issues will be downloaded in the background and can be read offline.
As rumored, Apple is integrating Twitter in to iOS. A single Twitter ID is stored in the settings and Apps that interact with Twitter will be able to tap in to it for Tweeting. Apple’s Camera App was demoed with Twitter integration and pictures can be Tweeted instantly. Contacts are integrated with Twitter and pulls personal information from the service.
Forstall boasted 2/3rds of all mobile browsing is done on Safari before showing the new browser’s new enhancements. Safari Reader — a feature found in Lion and similar to Instapaper — will be built in. This feature will parse multiple pages to create a story and will strip ads. The story content itself can also be emailed. Reading List essentially saves content you like to be read at a later date.
Also included is tabbed browsing. Tabbed browsing works the same way it does on the desktop and is very quick and easy to use.
Reminders is a list making App built in to iOS that is location aware and reminds you of certain events when you leave or enter a defined boundary such as the office or home.
Apple has updated the camera in iOS to make it faster to access. The camera will be accessible from the lock screen or a double tap of the home screen. To make it faster to access, only the camera App can bypass the home screen. The volume up button can take photos and an option grid can be displayed. Pinch to zoom will be baked in as well. Photos can be edited including cropped and rotated directly from the iPhone. Auto-enhance (an iPhoto feature) and red eye reduction will be built in.
Mail is getting a big update in iOS 5. Rich text formatting, control indentation, draggable addresses and entire message searching are new. The inbox can be swiped in or out of portrait mode on the iPad. S/MIME and a system-wide dictionary will be included in Mail. Another system-wide feature is a detachable keyboard that can be manipulated in any ergonomic position.
No Computer Needed
One of the most anticipated features is the lack of PC tethering for iOS devices. Fortstall demoed an iOS device being setup without a PC and announced all Software updates will be over the air. Only features that have changed will be downloaded to cut down on update sizes. Apps that had data that could only be manipulated via a computer can be changed directly on the iPad.
Forstall also announced iOS as the most popular gaming platform on the planet. The new update to game center will include user avatars, recommended friends, friend and game discovery. Purchases can be made directly from game center and turn based games are supported on an OS level.
The latest feature of iOS 5 shown off today is iMessage, a new messaging protocol similar to BBM but for iOS 5 users only. Text, photos, videos and contacts can be sent. Message delivery status and live typing are shown during texts. Conversations can be picked up from the iPhone or iPad and work on 3G or WIFI.
Wifi iTunes Sync
A very highly anticipated feature, iOS can now sync with iTunes and backup over Wifi. When charging at night, iTunes will backup user data to free up music, video and app syncing during the day.
To wrap up the announcement, Forstall concluded iOS 5 would support the iPhone 3GS and up, the iPad and up and the 3rd generation iPod Touch and up.