IOS5 Makes a Happy Gadget

What the heck is iOS5?

So glad you asked.

It’s the invisible software that makes your iPhones awesome. Your iPads and iPods, too.

So why should you get it? Well, it’s great and free — two things you want when you get something.

“But I can already listen to my music, watch movies and play Angry Birds. I’m not a techy person, so what else do I want?” Well, you may not be a “techy person,” but there are things in iOS5 that enhance the iPod experience.

Apple released a new software update for iPod Touch and iPhone called iOS5 in early October. The new major update is the first by Apple since iOS4.

iOS5 was released in June 2010, just a few days before the release of the iPhone 4. It is available for third-generation iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS and beyond and all iPads. The new software adds more than 200 features to Apple OS devices (iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone) and competes with the Android’s operating system Ice Cream Sandwich (Yes, you read correctly).

iOS devices purchased after the release of iOS5 already have the new operating system. If you want to update to iOS5, don’t worry. It’s not hard to do. Plug your device into the computer. Once plugged in, click on “Bobby’s iPhone” (or whatever your device is named). Under the summary tab, iTunes will say that your device can update to iOS5. When it does, click “Update” and follow the given instructions.

Here are some of the features to look out for in iOS5:

Siri. The new “personal assistant” is currently only available on the iPhone 4S and is activated when holding down the home button. Users can ask Siri questions such as “What is today’s weather?” or “Where is Shaker Heights High School?” and Siri will find the answer and speak it aloud while the screen displays useful information.

iTunes Wi-Fi-Sync. Tired of always having to plug your iPhone in to sync it? iOS5 fixes that with iTunes Wi-Fi Sync. Users can now sync their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to the computer via Wi-Fi Internet connection. To access this feature, go to Setting>General>iTunes Wi-Fi Sync>Sync Now

iCloud. In addition to the release of iOS5 and the iPhone 4S, Apple introduced iCloud. With iCloud, users have 5GB of free file storage that is stored on the iCloud network and all files can be accessed from anywhere. iCloud “pushes” everything to all your Apple devices (including computers).

Photo Stream (part of iCloud). Using iCloud, you can take a picture on your iPhone and it will be added to your photos on any of your other Apple computers, iPods or iPads.

Find my iPhone. The find my iPhone app has been available in the App Store and locates your iPhone or iPad from either of those devices and your computer. Now, with iCloud, not only can you locate your iPhone or iPad, but you can also locate your iPod Touch or computer. This is great in case one of these were lost or stolen. In addition to locating a device, the app lets you send a message to it that activates an alarm sound at top volume even if the device is on mute.

Reminders. This new app added when you update to iOS5 gives you a virtual checklist. It is now possible to make reminders and checklists easily. Reminders also gives you the option of receiving a notification of your reminder at a certain time or at a certain place (using the GPS which is only available on devices with 3G) and can be automatically repeated. Before Reminders, people used Notes or iCal to make checklists, but Reminders is much quicker and provides alerts when things need to be completed.

Notification Center. A popular feature on Android phones, Notification Center quickly gives you all your notifications on one screen. Just slide your finger from the top of the screen and Notification Center is visible with your notifications such as Mail, Reminders or Facebook along with news on stocks (customizable with the Stocks app) and the weather for your location. If you swipe to one side on the weather section, a six-day forecast will appear.

Newsstand. Reading magazines and newspapers has become easier. With Newsstand, you can subscribe to magazines and newspapers and read them on your device. There are several that are free and are easy to get, but not just any publication’s app will go in Newsstand. Only publications with an Apple financial agreement are eligible, and you can’t put Newsstand in a folder.

iMessage. With iMessage, users with an iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone can send unlimited texts, videos and photos for free between them. This is similar to Blackberry’s popular Blackberry Messenger, which allows free, unlimited texts to and from any Blackberry.

Split Keyboard. Split Keyboard makes typing on the iPad easy. By clicking the button in the bottom right corner of the keyboard, iPad users can split the keyboard into two smaller half keyboards on the ends of the iPad so you can type with your thumbs. Some users prefer this over the normal keyboard, which was criticized as hard to use.

If you persuade your parents to upgrade your iPhone over the holidays, you’ll be ready to take advantage of iOS5 right away. If not, downloading the new operating system is easy and worth it.

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