In what’s possibly one of the biggest changes to iPhones and other iOS devices since the advent of apps, Apple has given us a sneak preview of iOS5.
The new OS is set for a fall launch, and rumors still abound with regards to what changes will occur in hardware (an iPhone 5?) at that time. For now, we know that iOS5 will run on most recent devices that can run iOS4.
Some interesting numbers from Apple during their rollout underscore the impact this OS has had in the mobile marketplace:
- Over 200 million iOS devices have been sold to date (25+ million are iPads)
- 14 billion downloads from the App Store
- Over $2.5 billion dollars paid out to developers with their 70% cut
- iTunes has over 15 billion songs sold
No matter which corner of the RIM-Android-Apple triangle you hang your hat on, these are impressive figures that should play to your mobile strategy and decision making process about apps and other development.
Here’s a quick rundown of the major goodies Apple is including in the new operating system:
- A totally revamped notification system (think Android, in fact, thank Android for many of these updates!)
- Newsstand is Apple’s attempt at making magazines & news papers relevant – will it work? Too early to say, but being able to buy mags & papers on your iOS device (mostly geared toward iPad) certainly won’t hurt this struggling industry.
- Twitter is fully integrated to all aspects of the OS. If you don’t tweet… you will. This is a major statement, with no small impact on Facebook.
- Safari Browser updates – There’s quite a few Safari-focused enhancements. Not only does iOS5 introduce tabbed browsing (finally!), but the Reading List will make it easier to archive content offline, and Safari Reader is a de facto “mobile friendly maker” of pages – stripping out content (ads?) to make pages easier to consume on a mobile device.
- Reminders is a another big features, and will be geographic/contact driven – it can remind you to call or do something as you get closer to (or further from) a destination. Minority Report here we come!
- The Camera software is upgraded/updated. A shutter button will be available from the “lock screen” so you can get to it faster (you can also use the volume button as the shutter release). Some good editing features for photos (and sharing) will be built in as well, although early reports indicate these features may not work on 3Gs phones.
- There’s a split keyboard for thumb-typers like me.
- PC Free – you don’t have to sync or be PC-based any longer. You can download apps, documents, music, etc. and store it on the device or the Cloud (plays into Apple’s new iCloud which I’ll touch on below)
- iMessage – think BBM or AIM; a proprietary messaging platform across all iOS devices. It will allow you to end messages, photos, videos, etc. from iPads and Touches. Available via WiFi and 3g. One of the most proprietary features, but certainly heavy on the buzz, and along with the new notification system in iOS5 creates a strong collaborative and social suite for Apple.
It’s not an iOS5 feature per se – it’s a en entirely new service from Apple. iCloud is like services you may have used before whether from Amazon, Google Docs or DropBox – in terms of storage, music, apps, documents, etc. – with a typically Apple-driven focus: “it just works.” We’ve not spent a lot of time with it, but early trials show this could be a real game changer for collaboration, sharing and file-system organization/development.
As Steve Jobs said during the WWDC: “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device.”
That’s brave talk, and if it bears fruit (pardon the pun) ultimately the desktop, laptop, smartphone brand – even the device OS – won’t even matter. With iCloud you can get your “stuff” anywhere, anytime and on any device. It’s not about how many gigs you have on the phone, it’s about what you want when you want it.
iCloud will bring photo sharing, document sharing, email, collaboration and other elements to daily life – notably iTunes Matching at $25/month will allow all music you own to be shared with up to 10 devices.
It certainly reduces the storage capacity factor of smartphones in the equation, and with full-online backups and the existing remote management, puts Apple in an even stronger competitive position with RIM.
All-in-all, it’s an impressive set of features to look forward to in the fall. Here at jacAPPS we’ll continue to beta test the OS and SDK for iOS5 through the summer, and look at ways we can build better apps – and improve existing ones – using the new 200+ new APIs at our disposal.
For additional details, check out Engadget’s hands-on preview of iOS5 and related stories on the WWDC.
Any questions or concerns? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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