June 09, 2011, 10:48 AM — Earlier this week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple finally offered up a look at iOS 5, the planned update to the company's mobile OS. Although it wont be out until this fall -- Apple isn't yet saying exactly when -- iOS 5 promises to deliver much-needed changes to the OS, which is used on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Apple told WWDC attendees that the new OS will have some 200 new features, though only 10 of them were showcased during Monday's two-hour keynote, which also < href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9217354/Jobs_unveils_free_iCloud_sync_storage_service">focused on iCloud and OS X 10.7 "Lion."
Here are the five iOS 5-based changes I'm looking forward to most.
Let's start with the crowd-pleaser: Apple has finally revamped the way iOS handles message notifications. This was long overdue.
Until now, whenever a notification arrived, it popped up on the screen, forcing you to either view the message or close the notification window. The new method doesn't force you to stop whatever you're doing; the notification literally rotates into view in the form of an unobtrusive banner beneath the menu bar. Within seconds, the banner -- it displays the appropriate app icon and the message -- gently flips back out of view. If the notification requires immediate attention, tapping it automatically switches you to the app so you can respond.
Don't worry if you liked the current style of modal notifications. They haven't been cut completely. In iOS 5 they'll still be an option when you configure your apps under Settings>Notifications. And they're still useful in certain situations. After all, not all notifications should be ignored -- like a reminder to take medicine. But I suspect most users will opt for the less intrusive banner, which is selected by default.
If you want to retrieve any notifications you've ignored, you use Apple's new Notification Center, a completely original idea that no one has ever thought of. (That sound, by the way, was hundreds of Android fans' heads bursting.)