Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

iOS 5 Impressions

iOS 5 ScreenshotLast week I joined the masses who downloaded iOS 5 – the long-awaited update for Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Despite starting my download within 5 minutes of it being released, it was done within the hour and installed first time, without any errors. Whilst not everyone has been so lucky, hopefully by now most of the problems with the update have been ironed out.

So, now that I’ve been using it for a few days, here are my views:

Performance and Battery Life

The new update doesn’t seem to have had any significant impact on either of these. My worry was that iOS 5 would make apps more sluggish and drain the battery, but these worries have proved unfounded. The only real problems I’ve encountered is some apps – namely TweetDeck – are a little more prone to crash since the update was installed. I imagine these will be fixed in due course with updates.


Notifications received a much-needed overhaul in this update and Apple took a cue from Android by adding a pull-down bar, accessible by dragging the clock at the top of the screen downwards. This will show you the weather, emails, calendar events, stocks and any other notifications by third-party apps. It’s very customisable and it’s good to be able to view multiple notifications if several have come through since the last time you checked your phone.


iMessage is Apple’s way of turbo-charging SMS messaging, by removing the character limit, adding better support for read receipts and typing notifications. It re-routes your messages over the internet, thus meaning that you won’t use up your SMS allowance as quickly. Of course, the recipient must also have an iOS device, although iPod Touches and iPads are supported as well as iPhones; if they don’t, and you’re using an iPhone, it’ll fall back to SMS. What’s good is that it’s relatively transparent – if you send messages to another iPhone user, it’s almost no different to sending an SMS.


iCloud is actually the feature that I’m most disappointed in. If you only use Apple devices all of the time, it probably makes sense, but if you use a variety of platforms it’s not so useful. Right now I’m using Google to sync my contacts and calendars between home, work and my phone, and whilst iCloud would work at home and on my phone, at work this would cause problems; iCloud for Windows is for Windows Vista and 7 only, and only supports Outlook 2007 and 2010. This is a problem as I have Thunderbird on Windows XP. Furthermore, document synchronisation only works with apps specifically designed for iCloud – which is Apple’s own iWork apps and little else – and so I won’t be abandoning my beloved Dropbox (referral link) anytime soon.

If there were more ways of getting my data out of iCloud, I may be more inclined to use it, but it’s far too limiting for me in its current form.

Synchronisation and updates

Synchronising your device’s data with your home computer has been improved on several fronts. First of all, it’s possible to do wirelessly – you no longer need to plug your device into your computer to synchronise it, provided you have Wifi enabled and your device is plugged into its AC adaptor (it won’t sync under battery power alone). Second, synchronisation no longer locks the device – it’ll happen in the background, so you can still use the device whilst syncing. Finally, once you have iOS 5 installed, future iOS updates will be delivered direct to your device, rather than being downloaded on your desktop and then copied over. iOS 5.0.1 hasn’t come out yet so I haven’t been able to test this but it was working in beta.

There’s a few other new features but I haven’t had chance to play with these. Overall, I’m impressed – it’s a nice update, especially as it’s free to existing device owners, and adds a number of useful extra features and improvements.

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