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iOS 5 (s aapl) beta 2 arrived late last week for registered Apple developers, and the update did more than just smooth things out. It also brought some changes to the way the OS looks, feels and acts, according to reports. Here’s a breakdown of the major changes.
Wi-Fi sync was always an option in iOS 5 beta 1 and iTunes 10.5 beta 1, but you couldn’t actually do anything with it. Now, once enabled, you can wirelessly sync with your computer, so long as both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. This will probably be the feature that most benefits the average iOS device owner, possibly short of the new notifications system.
Apple has reportedly turned on the ability to update over the air with iOS 5. Updates will also apparently work over cellular data networks, although some major point releases will have to be done over Wi-Fi. Some are speculating the next beta may be made available as a wireless update now that the functionality is enabled, so we’ll have to wait and see how well it works.
Backup to iCloud as a setup option
You can now choose to backup your device to iCloud right from the initial on-device setup. Before, you had to enable this after the fact through your Settings app. It’s a small tweak, but it brings the promise of a post-PC future for iOS that much closer.
Gevey SIM unlock blocked
If you wanted to use the Gevey SIM card to unlock your factory-locked iPhone or iPad, it looks like Apple is finally closing that loophole. Users report that beta 2 disables the Gevey hardware unlock, which was initially left untouched in iOS 5 beta 1.
New lock screen Notification style
Notifications now appear in a larger font beside their relevant app icon on the lock screen, and somewhat resemble their predecessors. If you don’t respond to them, they join the other notifications, lining up in sequential order at the top of the lock screen. In my opinion, this looks like an improvement, since it gives primary focus to new alerts as they come in, while it also still keeps track of everything that you may have missed while your device is locked.
Apple has also made a number of smaller changes, like the replacement of the iCloud icon in the Settings app with the metallic one that it has used in promo materials. SMS messages also look just a tad bit different; there’s an option to Group By Album Artist (which can differ from Artist in iTunes metadata) in the Music app; swiping up in Messages will dismiss the keyboard; the Stocks widget is turned off by default, and if your Notification Center is empty, it will display “No New Notifications” instead of nothing.
Any other changes we may have missed that you’re aware of?