Multitouch Updates

iOS 5 brings a pretty decent list of user experience changes with it. On the more minor side are things like being able to delete individual calls from the iPhone’s recent calls list instead of clearing the entire list and now being able to make FaceTime calls without a SIM card inserted. A bigger one is being able to use your iDevice while it is plugged in and syncing to the computer - gone are the days of waiting 15 minutes for the backup to complete and the changes to reconcile before you could call or text someone.

The iPad has gotten a few more meaningful UX updates than the smaller devices. The integration of more gesture-based computing models is pretty evident throughout the entire OS, not just the multitouch gestures highlighted in the settings (iPad 2 only, sorry early adopters!) The multitouch ones use four or five fingers - swipe up to see the multitasking bar (read: task manager), swipe down again to get rid of it, swipe right or left to switch between various apps, pinch to return to the home screen. You can find swipe-based gestures in other places too: the mail app, for example. In portrait mode, swipe left to bring up the inbox sidebar. In Calendar, swipe left or right to change months. In the “Now Playing” part of the music app, swipe right or left on the album art to change songs. The gestures are all pretty well integrated and make it such that you can basically avoid touching the home button at all. A big benefit of avoiding the home button is switching between apps is now a much quicker affair, taking another step towards embracing productivity on the iPad.

Keyboard Updates

The iPad now has a new split keyboard option - pull the keyboard apart or swipe it upwards, and the entire thing splits in two. It’s meant to be like a QWERTY thumb keyboard split for each hand, like a UMPC (if anyone else remembers those). It’s useful for when you’re standing up and have nothing to support the iPad on when you’re trying to type. In addition, it’s now possible to undock the standard QWERTY keyboard and move it up or down the screen. I’ve personally never been inclined to make use of the undocked keyboard, but I’m sure there is a use case in which it makes sense. 

AirPlay Mirroring Music and Mail
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  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    That's true, however we've measured and talked about the size of iMessage messages - read/delivery reports are 53 bytes (which is literally almost entirely just overhead from JSON and APNS), and messages range upwards in size from there up to 853 bytes before being fragmented across a few different APNS.

    By that math, it's going to take 245,856 maximum length (853 byte) iMessages to eat up your 200 MB data plan.

  • steven75 - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    iMessage defaults back to SMS if it hasn't been sent after X seconds. In theory, this means you shouldn't have to worry about congestion because Apple thought of this for you.
  • FoTacTix - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    I was hoping for a battery life comparison in the review. Maybe I missed it? My battery life seemed to be much worse with imessage turned on on my Verizon iPhone 4.
  • Dug - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    Great review!

    The most important update for me was mirroring to the Apple TV, and I think Apple would sell millions of Apple TV's if they promoted this.

    I enjoyed airplay before, but now that it works with every app is incredible.

    I enjoy being able to put everything through my stereo and TV. Things like Pandora, MOG, videos, games, etc. is so nice and very easy. Garage Band is actually fun now that I don't have to plug into my stereo. No other product can come close to this. I have several Apple TV's now throughout the house and can control everything from my iPad.

    It makes me wish that they made a 16x9 iPad. (But with my TV's I'm able to do a little stretch so it's not so bad)
  • jsd6 - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    You can easily delete items from Reading List - swipe to delete on iphone/ipad, click the "X" icon on desktop Safari.

    You can do Wifi sync without being plugged in - it just isn't automatic. The wording on the iDevice is definitely confusing. As soon as your device is within wifi range of your Mac, the device will show up in iTunes as if it were connected via a cable. You can click Sync on iTunes, or initiate it from the phone. I've actually found to be too slow for my tastes so I stick with the cable. At least now the phone is still usable while the syncing is happening. That's a big step in the right direction!
  • Galatian - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    The one thing that really made me angry about the iOS update was the removal of the multitouch gestures for iPad 1 owners. I mean it worked in iOS 4 through an Xcode developer account, so Apple can't even say that the hardware is not powerful enough, like they do with Siri.

    What is even worse is the fact that they changed their website AFTER the update has been releases and people started complaining on their support forum. Now the American site states it is an iPad 2 feature only. Strangely enough the UK, Canadian, German, ... still quote the general iPad.

    Also the change log for iOS 5 update never mentions this to be an iPad 2 only feature.

    Apple has been known to artificially outdate their products, but they have down so quietly. This time they actually announced something and are now quietly changing stuff so it fits their business model...dumb move if you ask me.
  • steven75 - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I agree there was not a good reason to do that. I wouldn't want to be without multitouch gestures on an iPad. I never use the home button except to turn it on.
  • lurker22 - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - link

    So there is no fix?

    I have to remember to send messages to people using their email address in order for it to be sure and deliver to all their iOS device? Which means I have to know what phones all my friends use which is nuts.

    Why doesn't iMessage just route imessages sent to a cell number to all the values associated with the apple ID?
  • name99 - Friday, October 21, 2011 - link

    Truth is, there are a HUGE number of rough edges associated with iCloud and all the related services. A different set of examples would be the duplicates of events in calendars, or the duplicates of contacts in Address Book; and there is no consistent mental model for how data is supposed to behave "in the cloud and on devices". Mail behaves one way, calendars and contacts another, iTunes music a third --- and I don't think any human understands how Notes are supposed to behave.

    My HOPE is that this is all teething troubles --- Apple was faced with a deadline --- they needed to get iPhone 4S out by a certain date --- and iCloud was rushed before various bits were quite ready. If this is so, hopefully we'll see the worst discrepancies resolved in iOS5.1 and OSX 10.7.3 in three months or so.
    And if not --- well, that is NOT a good sign. Apple's whole value proposition is, of course, "it just works". And while Android seem unlikely to compete on that front soon, it is possible (not inevitable, but possible) that MS might actually get it right in Win 8, right enough at least to become the new press darling, the company whose cloud offerings make sense, unlike Apple whose every product behaves poorly and inconsistently across the cloud.
  • unixfg - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - link

    I don't really understand your claim here:

    "So regardless of how and where you’ve gotten your music from, if its there on the iTunes Store, it automatically gets legalized and added to your account..."

    Do you mean to imply there is no distinction on Apple's servers as to the source of your Music? I know the AAC files you buy have a tag linking it to your account, and can't imagine they wouldn't keep track of the source.

    That aside, I don't see how it would "legalize" anything. I'm a huge fan of your articles, and hate that this is the first time I've felt the need to register and comment, but...

    <citation needed>

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