30 of the Best iOS 5 Features (list)

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Updated June 27, 2022


Tomorrow, Apple will unveil the next iPhone, presumably the iPhone 4GS or iPhone 5.  Not only will it be faster and have an upgraded camera, but it will be powered by iOS 5.  Here are the top 30 new and improved features that users are going to love. You will also love our best software apps guide.

1. Wireless Sync and activation

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Literally right out of the box, new iOS devices will be able to activate without a PC with wireless activation.  That’s something that Apple customers have been screaming for as some don’t want a computer, they just want an iPad.  This new feature fills that need.  And iOS devices don’t have to sync through a USB connection to iTunes.  Using a WiFi connection, users can backup to iCloud, as well as sync to iTunes on their PC.  And with new over the air (OTA) updating, users won’t have to sync to iTunes to get the latest iOS updates, something Android users have enjoyed since day one.  And any time you plug your iPhone into an AC outlet to charge, the iPhone will automatically sync to the Cloud via WiFi and look for a software upgrade.

2. Notification Center

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The next new feature is another that isn’t really new to Android users, but that iOS 5 does quite elegantly … it’s the new Notification Center.  When users receive a message, whether text or email, iOS 5 will drop down a notification bar in the upper edge of the screen without kicking users out of the app they’re using at the moment.  Users can then swipe down to pull down the bar for more details. If there’s multiple messages, users can simply swipe to reply to messages.  For messages that come in when the iOS device isn’t being used, the Notification Center has lock screen notification, and a simple swipe will reveal and swipe to reply.

3. Greater Accessibility

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This is so high on the list because Apple has always made accessibility to iOS a priority.  And these tweaks really help those who are hard of hearing or blind to further use their devices.  Features include LED Flash and vibration activation for incoming calls, improved voiceover support, a hearing aid mode for altering voice and voiceover, and custom gestures to perform key tasks.  Other improvements include a  larger text option, New speak selection, New assistive touch settings, and the ability to Set Mono Audio left or right.

4. Twitter Integration


With iOS 5, Twitter comes built in.  All users need to do is go into settings, select to install the official Twitter app and sign in.  New users can register within iOS 5 without having to launch the browser and go to Twitter to sign up. Once installed and activated, users will find Tweet options in several places from the Safari browser, the camera app, maps, and contact information where Twitter handles can be added.  Additionally, the keyboard has been redesigned for more prominent #(hash-tag) and @ (mention) keys.  Location services can also be added to any Tweet, making Tweet ups easier to create.

5. Greater phone support

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You remember that the iPhone is actually a PHONE right?  It can make and receive calls!  That’s what my wife likes to joke about.  Well with iOS 5, users have greater phone support including deleting of individual phone calls with a wipe, unsecured call warnings, location notifications for calls not in contacts, and users can now edit their phone number in settings.

6. Enhanced email features

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With iOS 5, users can now add a little more flair to their emails with rich text editing of italics, bold, underline, and even indenting.  And to make addressing an email even easier, users can now drag email addresses to address fields.  Email also will have the ability to organize messages easier with the addition of custom folders. And users can now select & mark multiple emails as read.

7. Enhanced contact features

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iOS 5 brings a few extra fields for contact management.  Users can now add family relations, as well as social media links

8. iMessage between iOS devices

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Users can also send unlimited messages directly to users of other iOS devices with iMessage.  iMessage allows you to send pictures, video, text messages, group messages, and contacts to any other iOS device – iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch.  Users can set up to receive delivery notification and receipts.  iMessage works on both 3G and WiFi, and messages are encrypted.  And just for fun, users can now use animated GIF images in iMessage (only).

9. Airplay wireless mirroring

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Airplay mirroring comes to iOS 5, allowing users to use their iOS device through AppleTV on their TV set.  Suddenly, that iPhone or iPad screen is 50″, making it ideal for meetings or even game play.  And the image will also rotate on the TV as it does on the iOS device as you alter it.

10. Enhanced camera control

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Users have been screaming for this feature and now they have it.  In iOS 5, users will be able to take capture those instant moments with a Lockscreen camera control, meaning that they don’t have to go into the camera app to snap a picture.  Additionally, users can use the up volume button to snap photo.  And users have greater control over what the iPhone focuses on with one tap auto focus.  In camera editing features are also added including with red eye reduction, rotating, and cropping.   Users can also organize their photos in camera roll with the addition of albums. And here’s a great additional option – users can use their iPhone earbuds as a remote trigger by using the Volume UP button. To edit the images you capture, check out the best photo editing apps for iPhone.

11. Photostream

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Through Photostream, users can now automatically upload images and videos to the Cloud and directly to all iOS devices and their Desktop PCs.   Additionally, iCloud stores every photo for 30 days and every iOS device will store the last 1000 snapshots.  Your Desktop, however, can store them all.

12. Improved Facetime features

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Apple has also finally freed Facetime from the confines of WiFi.  Users can now video conference over 3G.  And they don’t need a SIM to initiate a call either as calls can be made via phone number or email address.  And what could be better?  How about airplay support?  Facetime now enjoys airplay mirroring for video conferencing over your TV set through AppleTV.  And video quality is improved.

13. iCloud

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Here’s the biggie.  Users can take advantage of the Cloud with wireless backup and restore.  Users can also schedule daily over the air backup or disable iCloud syn via 3G to save bandwidth.   As previously mentioned, iOS 5 will also automatically sync and backup to iCloud every time users plug in their phone to recharge and look for updates.   Images, videos and files are also backed up to the Cloud and synced down to other iOS devices as well as your PC via iTunes.  And speaking of iTunes, users have the option of a free 256kb upgrade of songs if backing up to iCloud, with any apps or music purchased not counting towards their monthly cap.  Users get 5GB free, with additional storage options ranging from $20-100 annually.  And  Find My iPhone is also available as a part of iCloud integration with an option to disable it. Do you want to secure your computer data from viruses? Get yourself the best antivirus software.

14. Calendar enhancements

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Calendars become more useful with a tap to add event option, tap and drag to adjust time and duration of an event, swipe left or right to view a different day, and viewing of event attachments.

15. Location based Task manager

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iOS 5 makes people more productive now with the Reminder Task Manager.   Tasks can be created and checked off, as well as syncd w/ iCal and Outlook.  Reminders can also be location based, meaning when your iOS device sees where you’re in the vicinity of a task, it’ll remind you to do it. reminders. Reminders — Instead of taking notes on your iPhone’s notepad app or putting a reminder in your calendar, you can now use Reminders in iOS to create a digital to-do list right on your iPhone. The geo-location abilities will trigger surrounding events for you to choose from.

16. Storage usage and clean-up

Here’s a nice feature for housekeeping of your iOS device.  iOS 5 brings Storage Usage Clean Up so that we not only see what files have taken up space but also the option to empty that space of Apps, Game saved data, Music, Videos etc. with single wipe.

17. The Assistant

iOS 5 brings a Voice activated assistant feature.   With a long press of the home button, your iOS device will interact and respond to voice commands. Users will be able to drive hands free and tell the phone to send email, texts, get maps, tweet, and even make phone calls.  Based on the popular Siri app, which Apple recently purchased.

18. Split keyboard for iPad

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If you’ve ever used an iPad, you know how hard it is to thumb type.  So iOS 5 adds a split keyboard option to make it easier to type in portrait mode.

19. Video and music now separate apps

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With iOS 5, the iPod app is retired in exchange for separate video and music apps.  Seems kind of odd, but it was actually done with the iPod Touch, so this change makes it consistent across all iOS platforms.  Users can also move between tracks with a swipe to the left or right (iPad only) and a slide will delete a song right away.

20. Custom Tones

To make the iOS experience more personal, users can now add custom tones for Calendar events, send/receive mail, voice mail, week view on calendar, year view on calendar (iPad) and more.  And of course, that means a new TONES App store!

21. Dictionary

Not an earth shattering feature, but it’s nice that dictionary has been added and is available in every app.

22. News stand subscriptions

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Available through iBooks, users can now subscribe to magazines and newspapers.  Searching by popularity of subscriptions is also a plus.

23. Cellular Network for App Store

If users want to be stingy with their bandwidth and only download apps over WiFi, they now have the option to Enable or Disable App Store downloads via GPRS and 3G.

24. Faster Safari

Safari has become streamlined and is faster to load.  Users can also save web pages in reader mode which eliminates all ads to make them easier to read.  They can also be saved off line to read later.  And in the iPad, Safari also offers Tabbed Browsing support.

25. Alternate Routes in Google Maps


Ever frustrated when Maps gives you a route that’s longer or goes out of the way?  In iOS 5, users can choose alternate routes that are more to their liking.  For those who prefer things old school, users can now print directions from their iOS device.

26. HD YouTube

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Users now have the option to stream HD/HQ videos through YouTube over 3G.  For those concerned about bandwidth, the ability to disable HQ video playback is also available in settings.  Nice.

27. Disable In-app Purchases

As a dad, I really appreciate this option.  With iOS 5, users now have the option of disabling in-app purchases.  No longer will I have to pay for things I didn’t want to buy because the purchase was done in-app without our knowledge or consent.

28. Game Center Enhancements

By contrast, Game Center now allows in app purchases of games.  Users can also further personalize their account with photos, and decide if your profile is private or public.

29. Weather updates

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The iOS weather app becomes more useful with hourly updates, local weather, and the ability to swipe the weather widget in Notification Center to see a 5 day forecast.

30. MultiTasking

Users can now do gesture based multi tasking (iPad only).  With a swipe of 4 fingers, the app switcher appears.  Pinch will return to home screen.  And a swipe left and right to switch between  any actve apps

There are over 200 new features to iOS, and depending on which iOS device you use, some or all are available to enjoy.  But it’s certainly a well thought out and welcome update which will only get better with the addition of the new iPhone!