October 12, 2011, 4:39 PM — I hopped on the iOS 5 download for my iPhone as soon as word hit the street that it was available. I'll be posting some first impressions on this blog over the next few days. I plan to give iCloud a good going-over, though as I type this the OS X 10.7.2 update that's needed to play with it still has another 6 hours to download, so that'll have to wait until later.
The installation process was relatively painless. In what I seem to recall as a first in a while, upgrading iTunes to version 10.5, a necessary prerequisite for installing iOS 5, didn't require a Mac reboot. As iPhone users have come to expect from a major upgrade, the phone itself goes through a few reboot cycles as the update went through; the whole thing took about an hour, as promised. One detail that's slightly nerve-wracking until you figure what's happening: the traditional large "sync in progress" message that normally graces the front of your phone while things are syncing is gone. In its place is a subtle circular arrow logo along the top menu bar, just next to the network connectivity information.
You can also keep on using the phone during the syncing process, which is nice.
The whole process takes so long in part because your entire phone is wiped, iOS 5 installed fresh, and then backed up data uploaded from your computer. This is I presume the last time I'll need to upgrade iOS tethered to a computer, though I wonder if I'll need to back everything up to iCloud for it all to work correctly? At any rate, I did encounter one glitch upon restart: the messages in the inbox of my POP mail account had all vanished. This wasn't a big deal -- the canonical version of this account lives on my computer, so these were just duplicates I had downloaded while I was away -- but still, I could see this being traumatizing for someone.
Notifications and Reminders: A few gripes
Two of the things I'm most interested in playing with are the new Notifications Center, which consolidates your various messages into one view, and Reminders, which promises to remind of you things based on both time and space. While both are an improvement over what we had before, Reminders in particular struck me as a bit half-baked.