Apple's iOS 5 is still a great upgrade for iPad tablet users. Here are our five favorite features.
I've been using iOS 5 on the iPad 2 for close to a week now. The new system software from Apple adds a large number of new features to the iPad (as well as to the iPhone and iPod Touch). Here are the few features that stand to make the biggest difference in the daily lives of iPad users.
Notifications: iOS 5 includes the new notification center. It works just as well on the iPad as it does on the iPhone. I have found, however, that it needs some fine-tuning to balance the right amount of information with the least amount of interruption.
With the old system, incoming notifications (push alerts from apps, messages, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) popped up on the screen and required the user to dismiss them before returning to their task. In order words, they were a total and complete annoyance.
With the new system, messages can be set up to arrive in a number of different ways--including not at all. If and when they do arrive, they appear at the top of the screen in a tiny little bar. If you want to access that message right away, swipe it to the left and you'll be zipped into that app. If you just ignore it, it fades away. You don't have to do anything to dismiss it, and it doesn't interrupt what you're doing. Thank GOD!!!
iMessage: iMessage is Apple's new push-based messaging service. It lets you send messages to other iOS 5-device users for free. The messages are sent through the internet, so they don't cost anything.
Messages can be addressed to a phone number or an email address, it doesn't matter. iMessage is smart enough to figure out which of your contacts is also using iOS 5 so you don't have to call people to ask them. Better, families that share an Apple ID can set up multiple iMessage email addresses for their multiple iOS devices so everyone gets their own messages. The bottom line here is that you can send text/instant messages to any other iOS 5 user right from your iPad.
iTunes Wi-Fi Sync: Plugging your device into a computer to sync apps, music, movies, books, and more can sometimes be a real pain. Now, iOS devices support syncing via Wi-Fi.
There are a couple of limitations. First, the iPad needs to be plugged into a power source; second, both the iPad and the computer in question need to be on the same Wi-Fi network (or connect via Wi-Fi directly); third, it isn't nearly as fast as cable-based syncing. In other words, if you want to sync apps, books, and perhaps settings, Wi-Fi is a great way to go. If you're going to sync larger content, such as MP3s or movies, you're better off plugging directly into the computer.
Safari: My favorite improvement for the iPad with iOS 5 is found within Safari, the iPad's browser. In iOS 5, the iPad now offers true tab-based browsing. Just as in Safari on the desktop, Web page tabs appear in the bar along the top of the website. If you want to jump between tabs, simple select the one you want and you're taken directly there.
In the old system, the iPad supported up to nine open websites at a time, but you had to jump out to a 3 x 3 grid of thumbnails, poke the one you wanted to visit, and then jump to the Web page. The new desktop-style tabs are much, much faster for website switching.
Safari in iOS 5 has also been given a major boost in performance, especially in the HTML5 department. It is zippier at loading sites, and I've noticed fewer Web page compatibility problems.
Multitouch Gestures: Perhaps the neatest trick added by iOS 5 are some new multitouch gestures. Using four or five fingers, you can pinch while using any app to be taken back to the main home screen (rather than press the home screen button). You can also swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the multitasking bar or swipe left or right to jump between open applications.
The last feature is a killer productivity enhancer for multitaskers. If you're careful and open/use apps in a select order, you can swipe back and forth between them easily rather than double-tap the home button, pick the app, and then jump there.
These five apps just scratch the surface of what's available in iOS 5 for the iPad. We'll be sure to share more as we uncover them.
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