Initial impressions: iOS 5

June 15, 2011

iOS 5's Notification Center

I’ve been using iOS 5 beta on my iPhone 3GS for the past week, and overall I’ve been quite pleased. I can’t use all the features included in iOS 5 since Apple hasn’t enabled everything, plus I need a developer version of OS X Lion to use others, but here are my thoughts so far:

Notification Center: This is the one feature that I can’t live without. After owning a Nexus S for a short time, I couldn’t believe how I dealt without a proper notification system on my previous iPhones. Non-intrusive notifications, available whenever you need to read them at the flick of a finger, are an immediate improvement to the user experience. Plus with Apple’s implementation, the Notification Center itself can be customized to give certain types of notices (like missed calls, or texts) higher priorities over others, and clearing them can be done individually or all at once.

Camera: With the 3GS, I can’t access all the new camera features, but one that is quite handy is the ‘up’ volume button for the camera shutter. It really makes things a lot easier capturing successive shots in a row. However, I’ve had some issues with the lockscreen dedicated camera button – sometimes it appears, other times it’s nowhere to be found.

Reminders: A simple app that has been working flawlessly for me so far. The fact that you can tag locations in your reminders opens up a number of possibilities, besides helping people like me who forget little things all the time.

Features that aren’t working and other issues: iTunes Sync for music hasn’t been activated yet, and Photostream isn’t working for me as I do not have OS X Lion. I’ve been having issues with wifi dropping in and out, and sometimes it won’t recognize available networks. Apps like Newsstand appear to be in testing mode, just like most everything else in this beta. Newsstand may work on iPads running iOS 5 with digital subscriptions linked to them, but I haven’t tried it yet.

UPDATE: I’ve since upgraded to an iPhone 4 and have been using iOS 5 on it for the past few days. So far everything’s been silky smooth; the features are all working nicely, just faster. That being said, it’s surprising how well iOS 5 works on the 3GS – a phone that’s now over 2 years old.

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