AFTER A FEW HOURS of error messages update we finally managed to download Apple's IOS 5 upgrade on the Iphone 4 last night, and we have to say, it's a big improvement.
The notifications bar is a welcome addition, even though Android phones have had the same feature for years. The swipe down bar is easy to use, coming up with reminders, weather and calendar applications, with social networks also integrated.
With the notifications system itself, you can decide between those that need to be dismissed and others that fold downwards from the top bar. You can decide which kind you want using the settings>notifications option, where alerts can be sorted in the way you want them.
Apple says Reminders works with Ical, Outlook and Icloud, which means you can make the update on all your devices and calendars. We set a reminder to book ourselves a doctor's appointment, and subsequently forgot, but were pleased to see it's still there on the notifications bar.
The Safari browser is improved, adding not only tabbed browsing but also improvements to the rendering engine, which make it feel faster. It has also added two features called Reading List and Reader. The first is for saving an article that you have found online for later, while the latter formats web content by ignoring ads and joining articles on multiple pages.
Imessage, the service meant to rival Blackberry's BBM, serendipitously has been launched at a good time, given RIM's recent problems. The service allows you to send texts and files using Apple's servers, thus avoiding the text bill from your mobile operator. It picks up when someone is communicating with an Iphone, Ipad or Ipod Touch on OS 5, and you can also see "read receipts" when the message is received, much like the old style delivery alerts on texts.
Newsstand might be useful to someone who wants lots of magazine subscriptions, but we didn't fancy that. The app itself is presentable enough and it's free to download the various magazines. However, once you've done that, it asks you to subscribe for a year to the chosen mag. When new issues are released, it will download them and a number badge will show up to alert you.
Meanwhile, Apple has integrated Twitter much more in IOS5, allowing you to share URLs from the browser and tweet photos you've just taken on the phone.
Photos themselves have also been improved, allowing you to remove red eye and crop and change a photo without leaving the app. You can also access the camera from the lock screen, removing the need to swipe, find the camera app and take the photo. Much easier.
One of the features that excited us the most, in a slightly ironic way, was the ability to make cards. After downloading the card app from the App store, The INQUIRER team happily posed for a photo and added it to the front of a card, which cost £3.99. We've sent it, to ourselves naturally, so we'll let you know when it tips up.
Perhaps Apple's biggest update, Icloud, looks to be a very handy addition, adding memory without the need to buy a more hefty and pricey model. However, the storage space is just 5GB, and if you want more you will have to pay.
All in all, Apple's IOS 5 has been a long time coming. Although it doesn't drastically affect the appearance of the interface, its usability is much improved. Surely that's what it's all about, especially for Apple. µ