When Apple announced iOS 5, the company said that it would boast more than 200 hundred improvements over its predecessor, iOS 4. Those improvements range from the addition of a new messaging platform, called iMessage, to full Twitter integration across the OS.
Combine that with the new notifications system and a dashboard for quickly accessing those notifications, and just about everyone who runs iOS 4 has rightfully been excited to get their hands on the next version of Apple's mobile operating system.
The vast majority of folks, though, will need to wait until later this year. However, Apple has released iOS 5 Beta 5 to developers, and eWEEK recently had the chance to take it for a spin. In many ways, iOS 5 is similar to its predecessor. For the most part, users won't be able to find too many fundamental differences between these two versions of the operating system.
But the improvements that have been made are major. And they're a welcome addition to a platform that was already standing atop the mobile space.
Note that this is a review of a beta version and not the production version of iOS 5. Therefore, some of the features and quirks in this version might now show up in the final offering released to consumers this fall. But if the production version delivers on the promise shown by this beta release, iOS 5, it might prove to be the best version of Apple OS yet
The first thing users will notice with iOS 5 is that it offers the same basic look and feel of its predecessor. The same unlock screen is there and the design of the operating system itself hasn't changed all that much. The only noticeable difference is the toggle buttons, which, unlike their rectangular predecessors, are now oval. It's also worth noting that in some cases, Apple has ditched the tired old blue notification box.
For example, if users set an alarm, they'll now find a black notification box with a red "Snooze" button. Previously, Apple used the standard blue design.
When digging deeper, it's clear how many changes went into the update. For example, if users swipe from the top of the screen down, they'll be able to find a new notifications dashboard that lists text messages, missed calls, application notifications and more.
The iOS 5 Settings page has also been drastically changed, due mainly to the addition of so many new features. The most notable addition, of course, is iCloud. In the Settings pane, users can turn on iCloud and determine what it should synchronize, including Mail, Contacts and Bookmarks.
The iOS 5 settings pane also includes a Twitter page, allowing users to input their social-network credentials. Once complete, the much-anticipated Twitter integration across the platform is turned on, allowing users to tweet from built-in applications.
Apple's decision not to change the design of iOS 5 all that much can be taken two ways. Some critics might be discouraged by the company's decision not to offer a new default background image or change its basic layout. But others will be happy to see that Apple hasn't changed much.
After all, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. And so far, iOS 5 Beta 5 works as well as any previous version of the OS.