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iOS 5 Review: iCloud Reigns Supreme and Custom Tones Save the Day

I stayed up way too late d*cking around with iOS 5 last night on both my iPhone 4 and iPad 2, but the new functionalities were worth the hassle of losing some sleep.  Outside of the download issues (why the f*ck did Apple release Mac OS X and iOS 5 updates on the same day), the update process on both the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 was harmless.  From start to finish it took around 30 minutes once the iOS 5 update was downloaded to get my little buddies updated with a new pair of shoes.  Speaking of those fancy new digs iOS 5 brings even more awesomeness to the table in iOS 5, which I’ll highlight below along with some tips on how to get the most out of your new iOS 5 features.

iOS 5 

EB: 8 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome: iCloud, Notification Center, Custom Tones, iMessage

The Not so Awesome: Newsstand App, Lack of Widgets, 3rd Party App Notifications

The Awesome

iCloud

iOS 5 brings your iDevices closer together than ever before.  With the introduction of iCloud in this iOS build users can now access, and/or backup most of their content between their computers, handhelds, and tablets.  No longer do you have to worry about downloading an app multiple times if you want it on your phone and tablet.  You can now take pics on one device and have them show up on another via Photo Stream.  iCloud is definitely the biggest change to the iOS environment, and like most Apple inventions it takes the guess work out of operations like syncing, backing up, and sharing data.  It really is a feature that should be utilized to its fullest extent so you always have a backup of your data somewhere in the galaxy.  If you combine it’s features with the iTunes WiFi sync you should never be caught with your pants down in regards to not having a full backup of your iDevice.

Welcome to the Cloud

Notification Center

Outside of iCloud the next revolutionary change for iPhone users at least is the Notification Center.  Android users won’t find this new addition to be anything groundbreaking, but iPhone fanboys should.  I love that I now have a single place to manage how I’m notified by my various apps that are installed on my phone.  With a swipe of my finger on the top of my screen I get a fluid looking menu that lists any active notifications I have yet to tend to, as well as a stock widget and weather widget.  The NC can also be customized via the individual app settings to make it work exactly the way you want it to.  Tired of those ugly red badges?  No problem, turn them off in the NC.  With the changes to how your iOS device notifies you the dream of having some say as to how your iDevice functions is now a reality, which leads me to my next point on notifications.

iOS 5 Notification Center

Custom Tones

For the first time since the original iPhone launched users can now assign custom ringtones to texts, mail, calendar, etc alerts.  I can finally have my “Achievement Unlocked” tone to play when I get a text.  Life is good, and yes I like the simple things in life.  I never understood why Apple didn’t do this in the first place, but I’m thankful that this functionality is finally available in iOS 5.   Like the old saying goes it’s always better late than never right?

Achievement Unlocked FTW!

iMessage

The next new addition in iOS 5 that i find to be very useful is the implementation of iMessage.  With iMessage iDevice users can now communicate with each other free of charge as long as they’re connected to wi-fi, and communications can occur between iPods, iPhones, and iPads.  With this new feature I can now message with other iMessage users from my iPad 2, which is awesome.  For those times when I don’t feel like walking 10 feet to get my iPhone I can now just roll over and pick up the iPad 2 to see who is hitting me up.  I love anything that promotes laziness, so iMessage is right up my alley.  Besides, now iDevice users have their very own BBM, so there’s no reason to even think that Blackberry’s have a single advantage over iPhones. Win.

The Not so Awesome

Newsstand App

Unlike most Apple fanboys I’m not going to claim that everything Apple does is worthy of the Gods.  There still are some issues with the iOS platform in version 5.  My biggest beef is the inclusion of the Newsstand app, which can’t be removed, nor can it be dropped into a grouping cube to get its bare-as* icon off your screen.  Obviously if you read a sh*tload of news publications you’re probably not as bent as I am over this new app, but there should at least be an option to remove it if you don’t want it.  Hell, at least let me tuck it away in a folder!

Newsstand Apple’s Version of Bloatware

Lack of Widgets

I also would’ve liked the ability to have some widgets on the home screen.  You could make the argument that Notification Center has a weather and stock widget, but let’s be honest, they’re pretty weak.  I would like to one day be able to have devs create some killer widgets like those found on the Android platform, but alas it ain’t gonna happen in iOS 5.  The icons on an iDevice look extremely well polished, but after awhile your home screen starts to look pretty boring while just staring at static icon images.  You’d think a company as artsy fartsy as Apple would have all these tricked out widgets by now, but obviously they don’t believe in them quite yet.  I’m sure that’s also why iPhone’s tend to kick the living sh*t out of other platforms’ battery power, because we can’t run live widgets all day everyday on 9 different home screens.

3rd Party App Notifications

My final complaint in regards to iOS 5 harkins back to one of my positive changes.  You can now customize more tones than before, but for 3rd party apps you still can’t set a custom tone.  For example, Facebook, G+, and Twitter still all use the generic Tri-tone to notify you of a new message.  Even though Twitter has an entry for a custom tone it does not work like it’s supposed to.  If you have the Twitter app installed you’ll still get that annoying tone, and not what you set in Sounds (the Tweet will play, but only if you post something to Twitter using say Safari).  I would like to give all of my social network apps their own unique tone, but Apple still doesn’t see it that way.

The Final Verdict

In the end, iOS 5 is a great update that gives you a host of new features to play around with to make your already awesome toy even more amazing.  Through iCloud, the Notification Center, and the other updates the iOS experience is better than ever.  No iDevice user should ever have to worry about losing content on their device thanks to the changes ushered in with iCloud, and the iTunes WiFi sync.  The fact that I can now set a custom tone on a SMS message makes the iOS 5 update worth it to me, and it’s not even the most technologically advanced new feature.

Sure there’s some issues with iOS 5, but when I have to pick on apps that get installed, and not being able to change my Facebook ringtones, you know that I’m splitting hairs just to find a negative.  If you have a compatible iDevice I highly recommend getting that little guy updated to iOS 5 today!  Overall the update scores and EB 8 out of 10 Buddhas.  You’ve been hoping it doesn’t take all day to download this damn thing…

 

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Tags : cool techiOS 5iPadiphone
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.