With iOS5, Apple mostly plays catch-up

Few of the new features in Apple's upcoming mobile OS upgrade are revolutionary and many are similar to Android componentsd.

By Melissa J. Perenson, PC World |  Mobile & Wireless, Apple, Apple iOS

With the introduction of a Notifications Center, you get a single place to view all notifications. The approach to notifications has heavy echoes of the approaches in Android 2.x and WebOS: If you're using your device, notifications will appear as a pop-up at the top of the screen, then disappear; to view all notifications, swipe your finger down from the top of the screen and you can view a list of all notifications, sorted by app and category. Also up top are updates like weather and stocks (though really, those look much like what other mobile OSes call widgets).

If you tap on a notification, it takes you directly to that item within the app. However, the pop up notifications, at least as demoed today, look disturbingly like some of the ads I've seen on iOS apps.

More Notable Improvements: Mail and Safari

Mail will also see some major changes. You'll now be able to add rich formatting, like bold and italic text, to messages, along with being able to indent text. Mail will have a built-in dictionary and the ability to drag addresses between fields.

Oh, and you can now search through the entire text of a message, whether it is on the server or on the device. For enterprise users, Apple added S/MIME support: if you have the certificate of your message's recipient, you can send your message encrypted (indicated by a lock in the address field).

A nifty-looking addition: The keyboard can now be split in two horizontally, and moved higher or lower along the display. This works not just in Mail, but other applications as well and will make it easier to type with your thumbs, especially on an iPad.

Tabs on Safari

The new version of mobile Safari will allow tabbed browsing, a feature already found in the native browser on Google's Android 3.x Honeycomb (and available in third-party browsers running earlier versions of Android). The on-stage demos didn't reveal many details, though, such as if there were any limits on the number of open tabs.

Apple's will also introduce Safari Reader, which will allow you to tap a button and remove all of the ads and other Web layout distractions within a story so you can view the text as a single scrolling page. This feature appeared incredibly useful and convenient, especially if you're faced with multiple pages to scroll through.

Even niftier, though, is the ability to easily e-mail the text and link from a story in the Reader. From what we saw on-stage, Apple's implementation may be conducive for e-mailing oneself Web pages for offline viewing. The Reading List, meanwhile, bookmarks a story in a list that's synced with all iOS devices, making it easy to find for later consumption.

Game of Catch-Up


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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