At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Steve Jobs and company outlined a number of new features that iOS 5 will introduce when it is released to consumers this fall. Many of the features apply to all iOS devices, but a number are particularly well suited for the iPad and iPad 2.
For many typists, touch typing on a QWERTY keyboard and thumb typing on the iPhone feel second nature. Few people, however, can claim typing on the iPad feels natural. Do you prefer thumb-typing in portrait mode, or is the two-finger hunting-and-pecking method better with the iPad in landscape mode? With iOS 5, you’ll be able to swipe to split the keyboard in half, which should provide a more natural thumb-typing experience.
Cloud to PC: you’re free to go
A PC or Mac will no longer need to be at the center of your digital hub, freeing all iOS devices and particularly the iPad, which blurs the lines between smartphone and computer, from having to be tethered to a computer. Instead of needing a physical connection to a computer with iTunes, updates and syncing will use the cloud. So, with iOS 5, you will no longer be asked to connect the iPad to a computer when first powering it on. You’ll be able to set it up wirelessly right out of the box, and you’ll be able to download software updates wirelessly. And syncing will happen anytime you plug the iPad into a power source.
In addition to splitting the keyboard, iPad users will have other new gestures at their disposal. A pinch will return you to the home screen, and swiping left or right will allow you to switch between apps. Finally, multitasking might feel less clunky than it currently does on the iPad.
Unlike the iPhone and the iPod Touch, the iPad provides enough room for juggling multiple browser tabs, and iOS 5 will let you open multiple tabs in Safari. The update will also introduce Safari Reader, which strips out all the crap essentially from Web pages, presenting you with text and images, each sized correctly to fit the iPad’s screen. And Reading List will let you save a page to reader later, and iCloud will let you access the Reading List from any of your iOS devices.
Perhaps one of the iPad’s best roles is as a news reader. Magazines and newspapers look fantastic on the device, but currently you must manually download new issues of magazines to which you subscribe, after hunting down each magazine’s app on your iPad to do so. With Newsstand, all of your magazines are rounded up and put in one place — and new issues are downloaded automatically. Think of it as iBooks for magazines and newspapers.
If you’ve got an iPad 2 and Apple TV, this one’s for you. You can now wirelessly stream your iPad 2’s image to an HDTV via Apple TV. It supports video mirroring, and it will also register a rotation in screen orientation. Perhaps road warriors can end their relationship with PowerPoint, or more likely, you can view photos and videos stored on the iPad on a big screen for the whole family to enjoy.
For a complete rundown of the new features of iCloud and iOS 5, including Notification Center, Twitter integration, iMessage and Game Center improvements, rich-text formatting in Mail, and better photo editing, take a look at TabletPCReview.com’s overview and sister site Brighthand.com’s overview.