Apple iOS 5 Works On Old iPhones, iPads: Review

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Cloud features and application enhancements don’t cripple older devices, but the install time is epic

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Built-in Twitter client could make me a believer

Another noteworthy feature of iOS 5 is the built-in Twitter client, which might make me a believer, if not a regular user. It too is location-aware, and the client integration with the Maps, Safari and YouTube applications may draw an entirely new pool of users to the service.

I’ve waited for the iPhone to get a camera that’s fit for use in the field for anything more than a snapshot, and although one’s results will of course vary with the model, the new features of the Camera application, such as view screen gridlines and zoom-by-pinch, make composition much easier than before.

Combined with new editing abilities in the Photos application, including automatic colour  enhancement, cropping, red-eye elimination and rotating, what we now have in the iPhone—thanks to iOS 5, iCloud and Photo Stream—is a tool for posting photos online like never before. The only flaws here are the lack of any way to easily get older photos into iCloud, and the lack of control one has over which photos get put into the cloud.

Cloud storage: all or nothing?

That’s actually a problem I see across the board with Apple’s implementation of cloud-based storage for mobile users. “All or nothing” isn’t a great strategy for Las Vegas or the cloud, and being old-fashioned, I like to choose what chunks of my data are safe to go beyond my control.

The iWork applications for iOS—the Pages word processor, the Numbers spreadsheet and the Keynote presentation tool—performed relatively well for me, although there were a few bumps as older files on my devices moved to iCloud. But as with Photo Stream, it’s all or nothing, and that’s not granular enough for my taste.

The next big deal for me in iOS 5 is the ability to back up and sync with iTunes wirelessly, install software updates over the air and back up the device to iCloud. Any opportunity I have to get another cable out of life is one worth taking, although I won’t be able to test the software update feature for a while longer, it seems. I haven’t even heard a rumor of a 5.0.1 update as of this writing, two weeks after iOS 5 became publically available.

There’s much more in iOS 5 that will make life easier for users: the ability to search message bodies in the Mail application, improvements to Mobile Safari that incorporate features from the desktop browser such as the Reader view and the Reading List, iCloud storage of bookmarks and reading lists, and tabbed browsing in the iPad version of Safari. And that’s just scratching the surface.

This time, Apple got the big release right.

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