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The 5 best iOS 5 features not highlighted at WWDC

Apple (s aapl) highlighted 10 features of iOS 5 at its WWDC keynote Monday morning, but there are over 200 new features coming to iOS devices when the update arrives in July. Here are another five awesome things iOS 5 will do to shake up your iPhone or iPad.

AirPlay mirroring

The iPad 2 can mirror its display, apps, home screen and all, to a TV or other connected display via the Apple Digital AV Adapter and an HDMI cable. But having a long cord tethering your iPad to your TV is no fun. That’s why it’s great that iOS 5 will bring AirPlay Mirroring, which will let you do the same thing without wires, so long as you have an Apple TV (the new little black model) attached to your television. It should be great for watching movies and slideshows, but latency issues could hinder its usefulness when it comes to gaming. We’ll have to wait and see how it performs.

Wi-Fi sync

Apple showed off how its iOS devices will be able to go PC-free when iOS 5 arrives, but if you still want to grab your music and movies from iTunes, you can do so over a local Wi-Fi network from your Mac or PC instead of having to plug your device in. Apple does say “it automatically syncs and backs up any new content to iTunes” every time “you connect your iOS device to a power source,” but it isn’t clear if that’s a requirement.

Multitouch gestures

The iPad gets expanded multitouch gestures, which have actually been available to developers before now. They include the ability to close apps with four finger pinches, swiping up to reveal the multitasking bar, or swiping left and right to switch between open apps. I’ve had hands-on experience with these, and they actually make a bigger (positive) difference than you might expect.

Custom vibration and LED flash settings

It’s technically an Accessibility option, but Apple is bringing user-customizable vibration and LED flash settings to the iPhone in iOS 5. You probably can’t make it specific for each contact in your address book, but it should let you know at a glance (or at a feel) whether you’re getting an email, a text message, or an iMessage.

Split keyboard

I have big hands, so I can wrangle thumb typing on the iPad without too much discomfort, but it’s not exactly fun. For those with daintier digits, it’s downright frustrating. The new split keyboard should make it much easier to type out emails without having to deploy an iPad stand and assume a more traditional typing position.

Did you watch or follow the keynote and have other suggestions of your own of great iOS 5 features not exactly given center stage today? Let us know in the comments

13 Responses to “The 5 best iOS 5 features not highlighted at WWDC”

  1. Guilherme

    I would like to see on the new iOS 5 a feature that freezes the search field on the top of my contact list. If I scroll down through my contacts I can’t search a contact easily. Or if I am on the e.g letter ‘G’ and I wanna search a contact, I scroll up on top until I get see the search field.
    Does my suggestion sound good for you guys ?

    • Ashton Gardner

      i was thinking the same thing.
      and also, i was playing with the HTC EVO the other day and got into swype, and after getting the hang of it was really impressed by the speed of text messaging. So i immedietly got on my iphone 4 to see if there was anything like it.
      there wasnt however; so i would like to see a similar keyboard for apple in the near future.

  2. Michael Emery

    I noticed iCloud pushes and stores your camera/photo-stream photos, but it doesn’t sync albums — which is what I really wanted. During the demo, changing the photo-stream on one device, by moving a photo into an album, did not make the same change on other device in the demo. So there is no sync. Isn’t this just going to create a whole bunch of devices with a big messy cluster of different photo streams and photo albums?

    • Susan Wong

      They will all have the same photo stream, but you can copy photos out of it into different albums. Each device can have different albums, or you can sync photo albums them from a Mac or PC wirelessly with iTunes.

  3. I did follow the keynote today and am very excited about the changes and improvements coming, especially the ones you noted. But one great feature for me is nothing new but something that will continue with iOS 5 – and that’s the iTunes store and iTunes itself, along with the great wealth of media available on it. Not only music, television shows and movies, but what is available in books, podcasts, and in iTunes U. is really extraordinary and an unsung hero of the entire iUniverse.

    Of course, I try to keep up with what’s going on and watched the video of the HTC Sensation 4G unboxing. I suppose Android has its followers and the phone looks like a nice piece of hardware. BUT the music store on it is by HTC, an electronics manufacturer, and has a pretty paltry selection. My eye was caught by something in the new releases section – “Tomorrow” by Wall of Voodoo. As I love Wall of Voodoo I thought maybe this was a new version of the original song, which was released in 1982, and immediately scoured the internet for it. If there is a re-release of this song it’s an HTC exclusive apparently, in which case HTC is pretty savvy. Or, the other explanation is that somehow or other this phone is capable of time travel and the review was shot in a 1982 alternate reality. In which case, again, I’d have to say that HTC is pretty savvy. You’d think they’d talk up the time travel angle a bit more to, you know, sell some phones.

    • Quick note on the HTC Watch music store: I’m disappointed in the initial selection as well, but it’s easy to get past that with Amazon’s MP3 store for Android. I don’t see an HTC, Samsung or any other manufacturer taking a chunk of the Android media ecosystem share from Amazon. Gotta give HTC kudos for trying and maybe that strategy will pay off in countries where Amazon’s music store isn’t offered.

      • Really, Kevin, because I had an entirely different reaction. Music is important to me and, as such, if I was looking to buy this phone and opened up that music store the first thing I saw in the new releases section was one song (and only the one song, mind you) from an album released in 1982, it would be enough for me to put the phone down and never look back. Any company that does something that half-assed doesn’t deserve my time, attention, or money. It has an air or desperation and hurriedness, and speaks volumes about the company at hand. Rather than the kudos from trying you want to give them, I say, “give it up, you don’t have a clue.”
        That may sound a little extreme but we all have our own barometers by which we measure.

        I tried the Amazon cloud player. I read somewhere I can use it on my iPhone but if that’s possible I can’t figure it out. Using it on my computer is a less-than gratifying experience. I’ve stored some music in my Dropbox but playing them from Dropbox requires picking one song at a time. That’s no fun at all. I never hear anything at all about the music and video player that’s available on Android phones and tablets. My guess is that there’s a reason for that, and not a good one. I find it odd really, since most people use their phones and tablets to consume mass quantities of music and video. There’s always talk about the various stores and how to buy the stuff, but I have yet to see anything about the experience of playing media beyond the quality of the picture on the screen or perhaps the quality of the headphones. After all, that’s what we do on our phones a lot – play music and videos. Perhaps sometime you could do a comparison of the Android player versus iTunes and players from the other manufacturers. I would find that very informative.

        • No worries. If you opened HTC Watch and it disappointed you enough to walk away from the handset, I totally understand; it’s a personal choice. I don’t think everyone else would make the same one, however. And I’m not giving them any kudos on the store; as I said, the digital shelves are disappoining. I’m simply pointing out a valid, useful alternative so that others can make the best informed choice for them.

          As far as you never hearing anything about the Android player for Amazon, I don’t understand that. We covered it with a hands-on already and it’s fairly impressive based on my daily usage since then: I can stream what I want when I want, or I can download for local storage as needed: totally flexible and is meeting my needs. I’ll look to do a comparison in the future, but iCloud isn’t quite the same product since you can’t stream music.

      • Kevin, perhaps you misunderstood. Amazon is a third-party streaming service. I was talking about the native Android music player. iTunes on Android, if you will. Is there no native music player? What if I don’t want/like/need Amazon? Say I have a bunch of music on my computer. I want to listen to them on my Android phone or tablet. How would I do that without using a third-party software or service? And what is that experience like?

        • Ah, my bad, although (for me) if a 3rd party app exceeds that of a native app, I’m fine with that. There is a native Android music player, which was just updated to include full music streaming, online cloud storage, etc… no need to use Amazon in that case, although Google hasn’t worked out music purchases yet. I suppose you could say “What if I don’t want/like/need Amazon?” but I don’t understand that: it’s one of the cheapest MP3 stores around, was the first big one to go DRM free (at no extra charge) and offers around 16 million tracks. I suppose I could say “What if I don’t want/like/need iTunes?” but that wouldn’t advance the discussion. ;)

          Sounds like you prefer a native solution over a 3rd party one – again, personal preference and I have no issue with that. I can (and have been) easily syncing music on my computers with Android devices both with and without cables (doubleTwist is superb for this and we’ve reviewed it a number of times) and the experience meets my needs. Probably many others as well, given the download numbers of doubleTwist, for example. If you have to have native solutions, then you have them with iOS – and they’re excellent. If you want to do the same with Android, the native bits are still being built, but comparable, competent 3rd party solutions have existed for a while. Hope that helps offer some perspective – not asking for agreement, just understanding.

      • Thanks for the response Kevin. I understand about syncing and all that, but I was not wondering about technical aspects. I was asking, out of the box, what’s it like to listen to the music already on my computer (or tablet or dropbox or whatever) on an Android phone? And I guess from your response is that you really can’t. Which is why, I guess, it’s never talked about.

        One problem I have with streaming services like Amazon is availability. I live in a rural area. I fly a lot and can’t stream music on a plane. Sometimes I take the 4-hour bus to the “big city” but there’s no cell reception between here and there. When I’m overseas what do I do? I have to do all that travelling without being able to listen to my music? No thanks. I have other problems as well, most of them surrounding ease of use and the quality of the listening experience.

        But thank you for answering my question. This is an important subject for a lot of people. We hear about phones replacing music players, so the quality of the music player part of the phone is a big concern for most people. However, it seems people reviewing Android ignore it as much as Google has been. Too bad. I feel it’s kind of deceptive in a way. While you’re recommending Android phones and tablets, you’re not telling people they are anything but plug-and-play for music (and video I assume). I’ve read a hundred reviews of Android phones and tablets and this was my #1 question, but I never read anything to answer it. And getting the answer to it was, no offense, like pulling teeth. Regardless, I do appreciate your time and effort. Thanks!

        • Totally understand your POV. Out of the box, you *can* listen to any music stored on Amazon’s or Google’s servers simply by signing in: the Google service is native and Amazon MP3 is installed on every Android device AFAIK. I know your question is about listening to music that’s stored on your PC: you have to transfer it to the cloud or the device first, in that case. My music collection is in both places, so it’s not an issue for me personally.

          And Amazon isn’t just a streaming service, so there’s no connectivity challenges: it’s a hybrid service and you can stream or download. Just clarifying based on your points. Sorry it took us a long time to get to your answers! :)