Scott Forstall took the stage at WWDC to help announced the latest version of iOS. After going over some numbers of how many apps they have sold and how many devices are running iOS he got right down to business showing off some of the new features of iOS 5. Here are some of the new things that are on the horizon.
There’s over 200 new features, 1,500 new API’s for developers to take advantage of and more.
• Notifications: With over 100 billion push notification windows being fired off over the past couple years, Apple decided it was time to introduce a new notification system. Notification Center aggregates all the notifications. It’s accessed by swiping down from the top menubar in iOS. When you swipe down you get a view of all of the applications and notifications in a list view with an icon representing what notification is for what. When you’re playing a game, watching a video, etc. A small animation will slide down from the top to notify you that you have a waiting notification. It’s unobtrusive and goes away after a moment, but of course you can get back to it whenever you like.
The notifications are also on the lock screen as well, and you can if you slide across any of them you’ll go straight to that app. You can also listen to voicemails from the lock screen as well. To clear a notification, just tap on the little X to the right and it disappears.
• NewsStand: Scott said, recently we added subscriptions, which makes it easier to get all the new issues without missing anything. We’re going through a suite of publications that support this model, like Nat Geo and Spin,Vanity Fair, Popular Science, Esquire, GQ, Oprah, magazines. They are also supporting newspaper publications like, New York Times, SF Chronicle, Daily Telegraph. When you purchase these publications they’re automatically downloaded and placed on the Newsstand. It’s integrated with the home screen and it looks, like a news stand.. New issues are now automatically downloaded in the background and are available for offline viewing. I don’t know why they didn’t integrate this into iBooks, but.. alright.
• Twitter: Apple wants to make it easier for everyone to use Twitter on iOS, so they have built the functionality right into iOS. You have single sign-on and it’s iIntegrated with many apps, including Camera and Photos. Just tap the action button, hit “Tweet” and it’s attached to your tweet.
You can also send articles from Safari and locations from Maps. You can also use Twitter to update contacts based off of their Twitter handles and information. Twitter notifications are also supported by “Notifications”.
• Safari: Safari has a new button called “Safari Reader”, when you tap the button the browser fades out and focuses on the content you’re reading. Working much like the reader feature in Safari on the Mac. You can e-mail the contents of the story you’re reading in, “reader” mode as well. This will help with the distraction of other things going on in certain websites.
Apple is also including a new feature called, Reading list. Reading list is a simple feature added to Safari that allows you to quickly save articles and websites in a list so you can read it later. You can access what you’ve tagged across multiple devices .
Tabbed browsing is also coming to Safari! You have the ability to open web pages in tabs instead of the gridded card view like in the past! You can quickly switch between tabs by tapping on them. There’s also Twitter integration in Safari so you can Tweet what you’re reading and share it with others.
• Reminders: Reminders is basically a pretty nice looking To-Do list that allows you to create lists and reminders. They will sync across devices with iCal. Notification supported as well. Pretty slick looking!
• Camera App: There’s now a camera button on the lock screen, when you tap on the icon you’re taken directly to the Camera app, ready to take a picture. You can use the volume up button to take pictures now. You can pinch-to-zoom right in the camera app, and if you hold a tap on a part of the photo it’ll set the exposure settings to optimize that portion of the image. There’s also some editing features thrown in for good measure. You can crop, rotate, reduce red-eye, and you can do a one click enhance.
• Mail: Rich-text formatting, indentation control, draggable addresses (from To: to Cc: or Bcc:), flagging so you can mark them as unread, and now you can search the entire contents of your e-mail messages. There’s also a built-in dictionary that’s a service across the OS. All apps from the App Store can use it, works just like the dictionary function in iBooks.
There’s also a new Split Keyboard interface for writing e-mails in portrait view. When you grab it with your thumbs and go up it’ll split in half, one section on each side of the screen. It makes things a little more thumb-friendly on the iPad if you have small hands, or if you’re not composing in landscape mode.
• PC Free: Apple is finally cutting the cables with the new “PC Free” feature. Now, when you take the phone out of the box, you just see “Welcome” instead of a prompt to tether it. “You can now setup and activate your device right on the device and you are ready to go. Software updates are also OTA (over the air) – Meaning you won’t need to be plugged into the computer to update your device! They are also “delta” updates, so you only get what’s changed, you won’t need to download the entire OS each time, this means smaller file size and faster updates.
You can now create & delete calendars right from iOS. We already saw the improved photo editing with the camera app, and in Mail you can create and delete mailboxes from iOS. Basically, it’s a much more independent operating system. “If you want to cut the cord, you can.” According to Scott.
• Game Center: iOS is the most popular mobile gaming platform on the planet as of now. So there’s no doubt there’s some good updates coming. They are getting more social with the next version of Game Center. You’ll now be able to See the scores of your friends’ friends, also getting friend recommendations and game recommendations from those people. You can purchase and download games directly from Game Center. You can now also play turn-based games right in the OS. There’s also achievement points.
• iMessage: iMessage has been a great feature for iPhone users, the ability to send messages and photos through the iPhone has been a feature all iPhone owners have come to rely on. What about the iPad and iPod Touch users? From here on out, the iMessages messaging service will work between all iOS users, regardless of device. Supports iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Lets you send text messages, photos, videos, contacts, and even do group messaging. You also get delivery receipts, read receipts, and real-time typing notification.
This feature works with notifications as well. So if you’re in a game or watching a video, you’ll receive messages just like text messages. They’ll slide in with the new notification bar that was mentioned above.
That’s 10 of the 200+ new features that are coming, including AirPlay mirroring, letting you mirror your entire iPad right to the TV, wirelessly. There’s also going to be wireless iTunes library syncing as well.
We’ll have more news on other features once they are available. iOS 5 is set to be released this fall. No set date yet, We’re betting probably November.