WWDC 2011 Keynote: iOS 5

As a person who is generally very pleased with his iPhone 3GS (by far the best phone I’ve ever owned, and very close to the best technology device I’ve ever owned), the announcements of iOS 5 are welcome, but not as exciting as either Lion or iCloud to me. I’ll run down just a few things that matter in just a bit.

First, I’ll just recap really quick thoughts on the stuff that really doesn’t excite me all that much but other people will find interesting.

Game Center … meh. I don’t play games on my phone so no use. Twitter? Eh. I already use Twitter. I guess being able to send a twoot from Photos will be nice but not a huge deal. iMessage? I guess it will be nice for Laura and I, but nothing huge for me. Newsstand? Nope. ┬áReminders? I just ditched Things for pen-and-paper for the sake of simplicity.

Enough of that.

Camera/Photos

My next iPhone is going to replace both a point-and-shoot and camcorder for me. The iPhone 4 would already do that, but I don’t have one. The 3GS is good, but not quite good enough to completely replace everything. Be it a 4 or 4S/5 it really doesn’t matter because it will be replacing my camera.

So the quick snap from the lock screen is going to be a very nice addition. Re-purposing the volume-up button for shutter will be nice, but it still doesn’t sit right with me to reuse a button like that. Perhaps the next version will have a dedicated hardware button for shooting pics, who knows, but I guess it will be nice to get my finger off of the screen for pics.

Some simple editing capabilities along with some improvements to how it handles balancing colors and focusing are all good improvements. People use their phones as cameras, so adding features that make it easier is a good thing.

Notifications

Probably the single biggest headache for me has been dealing with notifications. My way of handling them has been to turn off all pop up notifications that I can and just use badges when needed (mainly for Twitter). Of the notification systems that I have been able to use, I’ve like Android’s the best and I am somewhat pleased to see Apple use that, seemingly, as a template.

You can find out how it works somewhere else, but being able to get at any of the notifications from the lock screen is a nice touch (just slide on the notification). My one hope, for now, is that I can disable the weather and stock tickers. I have no need for either.

PC Free

Being able to set up your phone before attaching it to a computer is awesome, and I’m sure my friends still working at an Apple Store will appreciate not needing to have access to an iMac to get people set up. More of this will be covered in my post on iCloud.

This is another step toward iOS devices being completely and totally independent of any other device. Another page out of Android’s book (somewhat), it is good to see Apple continue to go in this direction.

It is also exciting because it means I will be able recommend iOS to more of my family and replace some of the complex PCs soon(ish).

Wi-Fi Sync

This one is more for power users, and I’m excited about it. Sure, it will probably take all night, but being able to plug in your phone (to the wall) and then have it wirelessly sync with your computer while it is charging is seriously awesome.

Granted, it needs to be plugged into a power source, but I can understand why this is needed. The last thing I would want is for me to come home, have my phone wirelessly sync, leave the house and find that my phone only has 5% battery power left because it really wanted me to have the latest episode of Back to Work.

AirPlay Mirroring

This wasn’t really touched on during the Keynote, but I am most excited about this as a person working for an educational institution. Essentially, you can have one Apple TV (2nd gen) hooked up to an HDTV and any number of iPad’s in the classroom and they can wireless share whatever is on their screen from anywhere in the room (or school for that matter). Seriously cool, and I agree with Fraser Speirs:

The interactive whiteboard has had its day.

That’s seriously cool and, if it works well, could change things considerably in a classroom. The key is that is has to work seamlessly for it to be effective. I hope that some developers are starting to think of new ways to exploit this 1:1 screen-sharing opportunity in the classroom.

Overall Impressions

There is a lot in iOS 5, but I’m still more excited about Lion.

A lot of what was announced directly hits at what other platforms have been doing better, but brings it to iOS and just makes the platform that much stronger. It seems like the elevation of iOS to the Mac’s peer instead of an accessory to the larger, older platform … which is both cool and kind of frightening at the same time.

Some people have been saying that the entire presentation seemed to be saying “we’ve been listening to you for the past four years and here is what we’ve come up with to fix these issues.” I’d agree with that. Apple has been listening, and it will be even more interesting to see how everything works once it is released … this Fall.

I’d expect a simultaneous iPhone 4S/5 + iOS 5 release right around the time we usually expect iPods.