My perspective on iOS 5

As most of you will know by now, Apple iOS 5 becomes available for download later today after a beta test period of approximately 4 months.

As Collaboration Matters is a member of the Apple developer program, we’ve been running iOS5 previews on a mixture of iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches since June.  

It’s fair to say that I’m a fan, a big fan.

In particular, notifications is a massive step forward.  

I know, I know, Android has had a similar feature for a while now (but then I could list thousands of features that Android has ripped from iOS, but I digress!).  However, the Notification Center in iOS 5 is really well implemented and very customisable – if there was one feature of the new release that I could not give up, it would be notifications.

Otherwise, I think that the over-the-air updates, backups and restores is a very big deal. Again, other platforms have had it for a while, but iOS again implements it in a good way.  The biggest step forward here is that any new products purchased will be usable straight from the store, no need to plug into iTunes to activate!

iMessage is tremendous, adding peer-to-peer data messaging to the SMS messaging on the iPhone, but available across all iOS devices.  This has been a massive boon for communication between other members of the family that have iPod Touches and I.  I really appreciate the notifications when messages are delivered and read, and also that messages appear on all devices I own – so I see it whether on the iPhone or iPad.  The only slight downside for me is that SMS messages do not get replicated to all devices as well – this is understandable, but I’d love to be notified of texts on my iPad as well as the iPhone.

ICloud is the final major new feature for non-Siri equipped devices – sync of all music and app purchases across devices, photo streaming and iWork file sync.  Even though this has been available through most of the preview phase, it still seems to early to pass comment on whether it is as big a step forward as Apple is suggesting it is.  Services such as Dropbox are still more useful right now.

Overall though, I really like iOS 5 and would recommend you upgrade to it as soon as it is safe to do.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!