Scott Forstall, Apple’s SVP of iOS, has just finished his announcement on the launch on the updated OS at WWDC 2011, and it is a big update with over 200 new features – I’ll leave it to the Mac haters in the comments to complain of overreach and bloat.
Onto the new features..
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks you would have been expecting most of the iCloud service but it is good to see the intricacies of the service. iCloud will completely replace MobileMe allowing Apple users to sync all their mail, contacts, notes and more across all their devices, as Jobs said “We are demoting the PC and Mac to just be a device…and moving the digital hub centre of your digital life to the cloud.” On the music side of things, Apple will be offering a music streaming service with an iTunes Catch service letting users have their local music collections scanned and magically appear in the cloud without uploading – something which should make Apple’s service stand out from competitive services from Amazon and Google at $24.99 (no UK price as yet). Apple will certainly be hoping this to be a popular feature after reportedly paying the labels $150 million for the privilege.
Taking a little bit of inspiration from Android’s notification bar, the “Notification Center” stay hidden until you swipe down the screen from the top and it will slide in and display all the notifications in a list. This is something iPhone users have complained about for a long time, so everyone should be happy here.
Apple has finally decided to take on one of the most utilized Blackberry apps/services (BBM) with iMessage which will allow users to send videos, text, photos, group messages and receipts across to any other iOS 5 device (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) over either Wi-Fi or a 3G connection for free. The one issue with this, however, is that just like BBM it is not cross platform like Kik or WhatApp, so it will be interesting to see the user take-up.
Since launching subscriptions for iPad back in February, iOS basically became an unofficial newsstand, but now they have consolidated this into a full-blown Newsstand app. To all intents and purposes this is a similar feature to iBooks but for magazines and newspaper content more regularly updated.
Forstall may have only briefly mentioned it but iOS devices are finally getting the ability to sync music, podcasts, movies and other iTunes content wirelessly. Finally!
It is interesting to see Apple cosying up to Twitter this year after reportedly falling foul of some Facebook requirements for Ping, their struggling social music service that no-one is using, but they do seem to be offering very close integration with the 140 character social stream with integration in Safari, Maps, Youtube and more. All this alongside a single Twitter sign-on across the device will make Twitter a very large part of a iOS user’s social interactions – possibly to the detriment of Facebook…
Over the coming months the question will be – what does iOS 5 offer that Android or Windows 7 Phone does not, and whilst all of these updates are useful and improve the user experience – none are deal breakers or revolutionary, and that is something Apple shareholders may start to feel a little nervous about.