In spite of last week’s lackluster iPhone 4S announcement, there were a few glimmers of hope for us to cling on to until the iPad 3 announcement (TBD) – the most significant of which was the release date of iOS 5, iCloud and Cards.
All slated to release on Wednesday October 12th (that’s tomorrow for you), the new launches hail some significant leaps forward for iOS and the iPad. Here’s a quick primer.
iOS 5 is Huge
iOS 5 poses a significant leap forward for the mobile operating system – it introduces a new notification system (a vast improvement over the old one) as well as improvements on stability, deep twitter integration, iMessage and greater freedom from your desktop with wireless syncing and over the air system updates. It also allows you to edit photos natively in the Photos app. While it doesn’t offer the full suite of features that something like Photoshop Express offers, it’s pretty robust and should be sufficient for most users.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction to bring it on par with and slightly leapfrogs Android in a few ways. I definitely recommend updating your iPad to the latest and greatest in this case, there really hasn’t been any disappointments on my end so far.
Here’s a pro-tip before the update though. Back up your device. (Like tonight!) Yes, the update will wipe your system clean, so back up your iPad before taking the plunge. Also, make sure you have a few hours to spare for your system to push all your movies, music and apps back on.
Another tip about iMessage when I tested it with a friend over the summer – remember to register your devices using your phone number (on your iPhone) and Apple ID. The system is pretty smart about picking up iMessage users from other users, so make sure to register if you want to make full use of iMessage.
iCloud is Soft, Fluffy and I like it
iOS 5 also hails the new iCloud storage and backup systems. It allows you to throw your important files onto Apple’s servers and allow them to sync across your devices. In all honesty, I was initially somewhat blasé about it, but the system has definitely warmed up to me over time. I didn’t realize how handy it was to have my photos synced to my iPad seamlessly from my iPhone, especially when I need to quickly touch them up to present. (My fingers aren’t really dexterous enough to edit on the phone.)
The iCloud service is free and initially starts you off with 5GB of data, but here are a few pro-tips on the iCloud you may want to know before you jump right in.
The backup function is quite nice, but has a few drawbacks. Firstly, it fully eliminates your device from backing up on your desktop system, which is a bit scary since you’ll be fully relying on Apple’s cloud to keep your data safe.
Secondly, while the free 5GB Apple offers is quite a bit of data, the initial iCloud backup actually comes in at 5.5GB (for me at least), and if you have multiple devices you want to back up, then the data use increases significantly. Apple offers various per anum plans to increase your capacity, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you think it’s worthwhile.
Here’s a third note – the backup system does work automatically, with a few caveats. The device must be plugged in to a power source, it must be on wifi and the screen must be off. It takes a fair amount of time for the initial backup (about half a day on my iPad, longer on my iPhone) so it might not be a bad idea to leave your iPad at home for a day while it sends things up to the cloud.
Cards and your Camera Connector Kit
A lot of tech pundits decried last week’s iPhone 4S announcement last week as dull and boring, stating that the most interesting announcement was, in fact, the Cards app. And you know what? They’re right about that.
Cards is touted to allow you to take photos stored on the iPhone, and iPod Touch (and presumably the iPad) and create cards that will be mailed directly from Apple to whomever you want worldwide.
Whether Cards will be available in Canada tomorrow is unimportant to me. It’s just a really interesting service for me, and sounds like a big win when you couple it with the Camera Connector Kit. Imagine sending your favorite photo taken with your DSLR and have it sent to your family and friends before you even come home; creating personalized vacation postcards that are truly one of a kind without having to spend hours at home when the moment’s already past. I really like the sound of that.
Don’t forget, iOS 5, iCloud and Cards are all available publicly tomorrow., and it’s definitely worth checking out.
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Posted under: iPad Firmware