Apple has included over 200 new features in iOS. A good number of those are fly beneath the radar type updates, so let’s focus on the key updates you’ll find with iOS 5 and how you can make the most of them right away. If you haven’t installed iOS 5 just yet, be sure to check out our article on how to prepare your iOS device for iOS 5.

Probably the biggest and most noticeable change in iOS 5 has been to Notifications.

Let’s say you receive a new text message or notification from Twitter. Your iPhone will stack the notifications neatly on your lock screen. If you swipe your finger across the notification, it will bring directly to the location within the app that correlates to the notification. Just receive a text message from Susie, swipe right and you’ll be able to start typing your reply in jiffy.

Notifications in iOS 5

If you swipe to unlock, then you’ll notice these notifications disappear. Fear not. Your iPhone will keep all of your notifications in the new Notifications Center. Simply swipe down to reveal all of your notifications. You can delete notifications by group, but not individually. For example, selecting the ‘X’ at the top right will delete all Tweetbot notifications. It’s not possible to delete just one notification.

Notifications center iOS 5

The thing I’ve noticed from using Notifications is that the Notification Center can get crowded. If you navigate to Settings > Notifications, you have options to turn notifications on/off. There is also the option to sort manually based on your personal preference or by time received.

Notifications center sort

If you are familiar with BlackBerry Messenger, affectionately known as BBM among BlackBerry fans (are there any left), then you’ll find iMessage to be very familiar. iMessage allows you to send messages through WiFi and 3G connections to other iOS users. Essentially, iMessage is an improved SMS/MMS, but without going through your wireless carrier. If all of your friends only own iPhones and iPads, then you might as well cancel your text messaging plan. We jest, but iMessage can seriously save you some money if used as a text messaging replacement. Wireless companies cannot be happy about this one, so score one for the text happy iPhone consumer.

Other perks of using iMessage are return receipts and you can even see when someone is typing a message to you. This makes iMessage have a more conversational feel than standard SMS. Plus, it’s free and won’t count towards your text message plan.

iMessage will use data, so you still have to monitor your data usage if you are not on an unlimited data plan.

Camera and Photos
Apple has finally relented and allowed us to use the volume-up button to take pictures. From the lock screen, you’ll find a new handy camera icon making it easier to access your camera and take photos. To access it, simply double-click the home button from a locked state.

The Photos application also gets a much needed and useful update, which will allow you to edit photos directly on your phone. Simply tap the ‘Edit’ button at the top right of your photo when within Camera Roll. It will reveal four options below your photo.

iOS 5 Photo options

Tap a photo and press Edit. It will reveal four options:

  • Rotate: Allows you to rotate your image.
  • Auto-enhance: Enhances your image.
Enhance photo iOS 5
  • Red-eye removal: Removes the dreaded red-eye that plagues flash photography
  • Crop: Resize and crop right within your iPhone.

When finished, you can save your newly updated image. Along with previously available methods of sharing comes a new option to ‘Tweet’ your photo, thanks to the new deep level Twitter integration will touch on later in the article.

Reminders App
The new Reminders application is an intelligent to-do list, with features that allow notifications based upon your location. For example, let’s say you need a reminder to ‘take out the garbage’. You can set the reminder alert to alert you when you arrive a specified location. In this case, when you arrive ‘home’, your iPhone will alert you that it’s time to take out the garbage.

Reminders app iOS 5

With iCloud, reminders will sync throughout all of your devices. Make a change to one and it’ll automatically update throughout your family of iOS devices.

The Reminders app also works hand-in-hand with the new Siri feature available on the iPhone 4S. “Siri, set up an appointment with Tim Cook at 5 o’clock“.

Reducing Clutter With Safari Reader, Reading List
Safari Reader takes the clutter away when reading articles on the Internet. Now it doesn’t matter if an website is iPhone optimized or not. Simply browse to an article and you’ll see a READER badge pop-up in the browser address window. Press that button and you’ll be greeted with a beautiful ad-free, perfectly formatted view of the article. Our site has a nicely formatted iPhone version of the site, but Reader’s version blows it out of the water. I know which one I’d rather read.

iOS 5 Reader


If you’d like to save articles for a later date, you can add them to a Reading List by tapping the arrow icon at the bottom of your window and select ‘Reading List’. At any time, you can select Bookmarks > Reading List to view unread articles.

If you subscribe to magazines or newspapers with your iPhone or iPad, then Newstand will neatly organize them into a virtual bookshelf for you. Essentially, this is an iBooks styled folder that will continuously update based on your subscriptions. This feature is high on style points, especially if you have a good number of subscriptions. This new feature is particularly useful if you own an iPad.

Deep Level Twitter Integration
The new deep level Twitter integration provides new ways to send tweets, directly through a number of familiar iOS apps like YouTube, Safari, Camera and Maps.

All you need to do is set up your account within Settings > Twitter. In my case, iOS magically knew my account information, presumably from the countless Twitter apps on my iPhone that have access to that information. Then again, maybe they simply matched my email address to what was on file with Twitter.

Also new in Contacts is the addition of Twitter account profile field. When tweeting using iOS 5, it will auto-complete @usernames based upon your updated contacts. Apple has worked directly with Twitter to offer a seamless way to receive updated contact information on your iPhone.

Twitter update contacts

Within Settings > Twitter, select the option to Update Contacts. Your iPhone will rummage through the email addresses and phone numbers in your address book, looking to match them with an associated Twitter account. Once it finds a match, it will update the profile image and Twitter user ID.

PC Free
While this doesn’t apply to your current devices, you’ll be pleased to know that you can activate an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch without connecting to iTunes. It still makes perfect sense to connect to iTunes at some point, so that you can download music, movies and more – not to mention that’s always a good idea to have regular backups of your data. Regardless, this is great news. You can crack the plastic on an iOS device and get it activated without the dreaded wired connection. No longer will families have to crowd around their computers to activate their shiny new iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices this and future holiday seasons.

WiFi Sync
While you may not hear much about this little gem, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Simply connect your iOS device to a power source and it will wirelessly sync your data to your Mac or PC. You must be connected to the same WiFi network, but no longer do you have to tether your iOS device to your computer to back up your stuff. Plug-in and let iOS sync your iPhone for you. To set up iTunes Wi-Fi Sync, simply navigate to Settings > General > iTunes Wi-Fi Sync.

iTunes WiFi sync

Assorted Notable Changes in iOS 5

  • Mail offers a host of formatting options, ability to flag messages and the ability to search within the body of an email.
  • Calendar offers a new year-view on the iPad and a week view on the iPhone or iPod touch
  • Game Center allows profile pictures and will recommend new friends based on the games you play and your current friends
  • AirPlay Mirroring supports wireless mirroring using the Apple TV 2 from either the iPad 2 or iPhone 4S
  • New gesture support for the iPad include: four/five fingers swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, pinch to return to home or swipe left/right to move quickly between apps.

These features are just the tip of the iceberg. With over 200 new features, you are bound to find a number of great new features that help improve your overall experience with iOS. Please make use of the comments section to let us know your favorite iOS 5 features, whether it’s one we’ve outlined or not.

Need help? Visit our iPhone and iPad forums, the world’s first iPhone community, featuring over 125,000 members. Registration is free an our forums are also ad-free for members and includes a free companion app available in the App Store. It’s literally the best place you can find help with iOS 5 and your iOS device.

Enjoy iOS 5.