As you may have already seen, Apple has announced details of its new iOS operating system. iOS 5 will add lots of new features to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, improving functionality and making the device easier to use.
A full list of what’s new in iOS 5 is available here. Unfortunately the new operating system won’t be available until this fall, but if you really can’t wait for the new features then don’t worry. You can already replicate many of the new functions of iOS 5 through third-party applications!
Of course, these features won’t be integrated tightly into the operating system and they probably aren’t as slickly implemented as they will be in iOS 5. But at least you can start enjoying the benefits of things like an intelligent lock screen, better notifications, tabbed browsing, access to magazines and newspapers and more.
So, here’s a guide to getting iOS 5 features through apps:
Lock screen enhancements
The new-look iOS lock screen will offer lots more information than it currently does. It’ll allow you to manage specific apps and alerts and open individual apps by swiping the screen.
However, you can already personalize your lock screen using iLockScreen Maker, an application that lets you choose between a variety of preset lock screen designs, including calendars. Lock Screen goes a step further, allowing you to manually add text, weather forecasts, seven-day calendar and custom photo backgrounds to your lock screen.
One of the most radical changes in iOS 5 is to do with the way notifications are handled by the operating system. The new Notifications Center will provide a centralized hub for all of the notifications you receive from your various apps.
Slicker notification management can already be achieved in iOS 4 through third party apps. Push 4.0 is a particularly useful one, with push support for Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Google Voice, RSS and more. What’s more, the app’s REST API allows you to create your own custom notifications.
Newsstand is kind of like iBook, but for newspapers and magazines, which could do a lot to help flagging offline publications. It allows you to build up a shelf of different publications which you can read directly through Newsstand.
But subscribing to magazines on your iOS device is nothing new. For example, Condé Nast has already successfully rolled out iPad magazine subscriptions for many of its titles, including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired and GQ. Likewise, Amazon has expanded the capabilities of its Kindle app to include digital newspaper and magazine subs.
Elsewhere on the App Store you can find applications that centralize the contents of a variety of mags into one place, such as Womens Magazines and Mens Magazines. There’s also the excellent Marvel Comics app, for superhero fans.
Tabbed browsing/Safari improvements
Safari will be armed with some new features designed to make the web easier to navigate. Until iOS 5 is rolled out though, why not give the recently updated Opera Mini browser a try?
Steve Jobs made a big thing about the new tabbed browsing capabilities of Safari in iOS 5 – but Opera Mini beat him to it, and with it you can already enjoy the benefits of opening sites in multiple tabs.
The new mobile version of Safari will also include a Reading List feature, designed to mark something for reading later on. This will synchronize across devices so you can finish reading it on another Apple device, or on your Mac. But guess what? You can already do this in Opera Mini, through the Opera Link feature, which lets you sync bookmarks with a desktop PC or another mobile device.
Apple will beef up the iOS Mail client in the next version of the operating system. The mail application will add support for rich text formatting, address dragging, indentation control, message flagging, full message searches, S/MIME support, and more.
Some advanced mail features are already available in third-party iOS mail cients. For example, Mailroom – a Gmail client – contains some useful features such as threaded conversations, full HTML email support (including multi-touch viewing), plus offline HTML 5 storage.
Mail text formatting can be achieved through Smiley Mail, an app that also comes with lots of animated emoticons, message backgrounds, images and templates. If you’re hankering for full text search in your email, you can already get that too, through fwdMail.
Along with improved access to the Camera app, photo taking with iOS 5 will be improved by the inclusion of some new editing functions. This will include cropping, red eye reduction and quick photo correction.
Such functions are nothing new to the operating system though, and there’s already a bunch of apps that will make light work of image enhancement. Notable options include Camera+, Photoshop Express, and TouchUp Pro.
iOS 5 will feature a new sticky note style, location-aware Reminder tool designed to help you keep on track of events based on where you are.
This kind of functionality is already out there though, in the shape of the excellent TaskAware Universal app. The program allows you to keep a record of all your tasks and pin them to locations.
You’re able to organize tasks by due date and assign priorities to certain events. The overview map is great, because it shows you exactly where all your pending tasks need to be done and will even alert you when you get near a location where you should be doing something!