Apple is about ready to unleash the latest version of their mobile operating system, iOS. iOS 6 comes with a significant number of new features and enhancement over previous versions of iOS, including iOS 5.1. Before we delve into the newest features of iOS 6, let's look at a history of where iOS has come since its initial introduction in January of 2007 and subsequent release in July of 2007.
When iPhone OS was originally introduced by Steve Jobs in January of 2007 at the MacWorld conference, the idea of having a phone that was entirely touch screen was unfathomable to many users. Cell phones prior to the release of the iPhone all had keypads and were mostly comprised of Motorola Razr flip phones, Nokia messaging phones, and Blackberry devices; with the Blackberry devices were the most capable and advanced phone at the time.
There were only two different keyboard styles for phones at the time. A full QWERTY keyboard, which was reserved for advanced devices, and the more traditional 12-button pad with a few additional buttons for power, answering a call, and accessing the basic applications included on the phone. The last button was the five-way navigation button which was the primary method of navigating between applications and other menu options. This was the norm and nobody was really looking for anything beyond that.
Apple had tried to innovate with cell phones prior to releasing the original iPhone by partnering with AT&T to create the Motorola Rokr phone. The Rokr was released on September 7th, 2005. The differentiation with the Rokr was that it was able to sync music with iTunes and even could do MultiMedia Messaging (MMS). Despite attempting to create a cell phone with iTunes on it, Apple was not satisfied and went back to the drawing board.
What Apple came up with, and ultimately released, would revolutionize cell phones, and mobile computing, as we know it today. The standard expectations of users all changed with the introduction of the original iPhone. The original iPhone incorporated three major features; an iPod, a Phone, and a “Breakthrough Internet Communicator”. The other aspect of many phones that Apple chose to incorporate in order to differentiate the iPhone, was the removal of the keyboard. Instead of having a physical keyboard with physical buttons, the entire interface would be touch-based.
The original iPhone differed in significant ways from many of the previous phones. It sported a 3.5″ diagonal screen. The screen did not utilize a traditional stylus, instead if it was able to be used with a stylus that all humans possess at birth, their fingers. Apple named the new technology “Multi-touch”. Multi-touch allowed multiple finger gestures that could interface with the screen simultaneously. The decision to go with a Multi-touch screen over a traditional screen meant that Apple did not have to include a physical keyboard. Instead, Apple chose to go with an on-screen keyboard which could appear only when an application needed a keyboard and it would leave when the keyboard was no longer needed. The screen also had a resolution of 480×320. While nothing particularly fancy, it did have a pixel density of 160 pixels per inch (ppi).
Hardware on cell phones varied as widely as any other aspect of a phone. The item that varied beyond even hardware was the software that was used to power the phones. Each company had either their own propriety software or a preferred licensed software package that the used. Some phones used Windows Mobile, Blackberry devices used BlackBerry OS, and a majority used a proprietary operating system. Many of the phones, excluding the ‘Smart Phones' that used Windows Mobile or BlackBerry OS, were used mainly used for text messaging and actually making phone calls.
The devices running BlackBerry OS or Windows Mobile were marketed as hand-held computers that could perform many of the tasks that users were hoping to able to do while on the go. Tasks such as e-mail and editing Microsoft Office documents were the big draws for these Smart phones.
During the keynote that introduced the iPhone, Apple made sure to note that the iPhone had “OS X under the hood.” Many people initially took this to mean that OS X itself was running the phone. In all reality, the operating system running the iPhone incorporated many of the technologies that made its OS X operating system so secure. Some of these technologies included Core Animation, Multi-tasking, Syncing, Video capabilities and power management.
Apple dubbed the software iPhoneOS. The original iPhone came with only a handful of applications. They included Phone, Safari, iPod, Contacts, Settings, SMS, Calendar, Photos, Camera, Maps, Calculator, Mail, Notes and Clock. These were the only applications that were allowed on the iPhone. All of these application were created and maintained by Apple. This was the case until the release of iPhone OS 2.0.
Given that the original iPhone could do so much in one device, there was a need for storage of pictures, music, videos, and the rest of the data. This is why the iPhone came in two varieties, 4GB and 8GB models. Within a couple of months, Apple decided to stop selling the 4GB model and went strictly with the 8GB model. There is one thing to note about the phone, it was not subsidized as many phones are today. Instead, the iPhone was sold at its full price of $499 and $599 for the 4GB and 8GB model, respectively.
Apple chose to go with the standard adopted by a majority of the world, (Global System for Mobile Communications) GSM, for its initial iPhone. The iPhone was capable of retrieving data over the EDGE network. Apple chose go with GSM because it was the standard for many countries not just in North America, but across the entire world. This would prove to be a smart choice down the road.
The original iPhone was a revolutionary device. It did change the way that phones were viewed. Instead of just being primarily for phone calls and text messages, they now were little computers that could get a lot more done than previously thought possible.
Apple did not stop with the original iPhone. In the subsequent years, Apple released the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S. Let's look at each of these in turn.
The iPhone 3G added a couple of new features. The first, is 3G Networking. 3G Networking allowed even faster data speeds over cellular connections. The second was the introduction of iPhone OS 2.0. iPhone OS 2.0 allowed 3rd party applications to be purchased and installed. This meant that users could now install applications that were not developed by Apple. The third big aspect is push email, contacts and calendars. Push meant that users no longer had to manually check for updates to their email. Instead, new email would automatically be sent to the device. The iPhone 3G also included, Microsoft Exchange support, Cisco VPN, a GPS for maps, and a significant price drop down to $199 for the 8GB model. The form factor did also change to be a bit slimmer and the top and bottom of the device were tapered.
The iPhone 3GS kept the same form factor as the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3GS was a faster version of the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3GS also included a 3.0 megapixel camera, an upgrade from the original iPhone and iPhone 3G camera, which was a 2.0 megapixel camera. With the upgraded camera came the ability to take video at 30 frames per second that included Audio. The iPhone 3GS also allowed users to tether their iPhone to their computer and use the 3G connection to get internet access.
The iPhone OS 3.0 software allowed a few other features. These include, subscriptions within applications, in-app purchases, 3rd-party accessory support, Push notifications, MultiMedia Messaging (MMS), Voice memos, and a small feature called Copy and Paste. The iPhone OS 3.0 release was a significant improvement over iPhone OS 2.0. iPhone OS 3.0 was released in released to developers in March of 2009.
One of the biggest changes to the iPhone line came in 2010. No, it was not the release of iPhone 4, which was a big event itself. It was the release of the iPad in April of 2010. The first big change with the iPhone OS is that the operating system was renamed to iOS. The release of the original iPad signified a slight shift, and bifurcation of the iOS to two different development lines. The iPad introduced iPhone OS 3.2, which was effectively iOS 3.0, but included the elements needed to developer specifically for iPads. The iPad was a 9.7″ tablet device that took the best of the iPhone and made it bigger. The initial release of the iPad, running iPhone OS 3.2, did not bring many new features, but there were a few new features. The new features included iWork for iPad, iBooks, and 802.11N Wifi. There was one particularly interesting hardware choice with the iPad as well.
iWork for iPad was the first time that one of Apple's OS X applications was ported natively over to iOS. iWork was the spark that showed that the iPad could be used as a productivity device as well as a consumption device. iBooks introduced a new store for Apple, books. Initially iBooks was an iPad-only application that allowed publishers to sell e-books to consumers on the revolutionary iPad. 802.11n Wifi did allow for better streaming of HD videos from iTunes for users. The initial version of iPhone OS 3.2 did not bring that many new features, but it did bring the iPad.
The hardware change with the iPad was the introduction of the “A4” processor. The A4 processor was a huge step in Apple's production of iOS devices. Prior to the iPad, all of Apple's processors for iPhone and iPod Touch devices were designed and manufactured by other companies. The A4 was the first time that Apple utilized a processor that was entirely designed within Apple. The A4 would become the basis for all of Apple's future mobile devices.
iPhone OS 4
On April 8th, 2010 two days before the release of the original iPad on April 10th, 2010, Apple held a keynote to describe the new features of iPhone OS 4.0. iPhone OS 4.0 was one of the biggest upgrades in the history of iPhone OS. iPhone OS 4.0 introduced bluetooth keyboard support, custom home screen wallpaper, spell check, folders, Unified email inboxes, iBooks for iPhone and iPod Touch, significant enterprise management and support improvements, GameCenter, iAd, and multi-tasking.
Bluetooth keyboard support, was introduced with the iPhone OS 3.2 and only supported the iPad. Apple decided to include this feature in iPhone OS 4.0. By including this feature, it could allow iPhone and iPod Touch users to utilize a keyboard if they needed to type an item of significant length. Customized home screen wallpaper, may seem like an insignificant feature, but it did allow flexibility for the users.
While copy and paste had been in iPhone OS 3.0 there was no way to spell check while typing, which lead to many inadvertent errors. While predictive text had been present since the original iPhone launch the ability to have spell check made a significant improvement for everybody.
Since the release of the original iPhone users were able to customize which home screen applications appeared on. There was a limit of 16 applications per home screen and a total of 9 home screens. This was 144, with four applications that always appeared in the Dock, for a total of 148 applications. While it was possible to install more and use spotlight search to locate the applications, this was not ideal. With iPhone OS 4.0, a new feature called ‘Folders' was introduced. The folder metaphor allows up to 12 applications per folder and up to 16 folders per home screen. Meaning 192 applications per home screen. The number of home screens also increased to 11. Meaning that a total of applications that could be on home screens increased to 2112. If one includes the Dock, which could also hold up to 4 folders, the total number of applications increased to 2160 applications per device. This was a significant increase for users who wanted to not just organize their applications, but also have more of them installed on their iOS devices. In order to create folders, a user merely has to go into ‘Edit' mode for their applications, and drag one application on top of another. This will create a folder. Once a user did this the folder would suggest to the user a possible name for the folder. For instance, if a user attempted to put Twitter on top of the Facebook application, the suggested name for the folder might be Social Networking. This information is derived from the categories that the developer used to submit the application to Apple.
One of the most utilized applications on iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads is Mail.app. Many users, myself included, tend to have more than one email account configured on their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. In my case I have a total of nine email accounts on my devices. Many users wished that there was a simple way to be able to see all of their email in one single inbox. With iPhone OS 4.0, Apple granted this wish and added a unified inbox option. This made those users who attempted to manage a significant amount of email, a bit more productive than they were able to be previously.
iBooks, as mentioned before, is Apple's interface for their electronic book store. iBooks, introduced with the iPad, would be coming to iPhones and iPod Touches. The addition of iBooks allowed users to read their iBooks purchases, as well as PDFs, while on the go and if they did not own an iPad. Outside of the application being re-done for the smaller 3.5″ screen, there were no other changes.
Enterprises generally do not like using unproven products because they do not like to be the ones to deal with the support required to use the applications. In addition, enterprises need ways to be able to securely manage and connect devices to their enterprise infrastructure to be sure that proprietary information does not leak. This is in order to maintain compliance with corporate policies and possibly other laws, like HIPAA. Some of the new enterprise features included Mobile Device Management, which allowed enterprises to determine what could and could not be done with the Mobile Device. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Virtual Private Network (VPN) support was also added. SSL VPNs allow for a more secure connection over Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP). SSL VPNs use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to be able to allow devices to connect to VPNs to the corporate headquarters.
The last enterprise-level set of features added related to Microsoft Exchange Server. Prior to iPhone OS 4.0, iPhone users were able to only connect a single Microsoft Exchange email account. With iPhone OS 4.0, this was no longer the case. With iPhone OS 4.0, a user could now connect to multiple Microsoft Exchange accounts. With this implementation, Apple also added support for Microsoft Exchange 2010.
Apple also introduced a new gaming feature called Game Center. Game Center was a feature that allowed developers to centrally maintain leaderboards, match users, and achievements. Game Center allowed developers to integrate these features into their games to provide an even better user experience.
One of the biggest possible draws for developers is making a profit. In lieu of selling your application to users another option for generating revenue is advertisements. Until the release of iPhone OS 4.0, developers had to implement non-Apple advertising by going through another service, like Google's Doubleclick advertising platform. With the release of iPhone OS 4.0 Apple introduced a new feature called iAd. iAd was introduced as Apple's advertising platform. iAd differed from many other advertising platforms due to two specific features. The first feature is that developers kept 60% of revenue generated through iAds. The second feature is that iAds were served within the application itself. Users did not need to leave the application in order to see the advertisement. By utilizing this method users stayed more engaged while viewing the ad.
The last major feature added to iPhone OS 4.0, and possibly most important, is multi-tasking. With all versions of iPhone OS prior to version 4.0 users were only able to run a single application at a time. There were a few exceptions to this rule. The applications that were allowed to run in the background were the iPod application, Mail.app, and SMS, all of these applications were maintained by Apple. No third-party applications could run in the background. Developers knew that it was possible for a couple of reasons. The first is that Apple's own applications were capable of multi-tasking. The second was that the jailbreak community already proved that it was possible by implementing multi-tasking in many jailbreaks. Apple announced that iPhone OS 4.0 would allow multi-tasking within 3rd party applications.
Multi-tasking, despite being available, received some criticism for its lack of being “true” multi-tasking. Apple's implementation of multi-tasking did not allow the application to run wild in the background. Instead, Apple opted to go for a method where the application, once it lost focus, would being in a paused state. Developers were required to save the state for the user so that if a user opened up the application again, it would resume where the user last left off in the application. Despite the grumblings of some developers, multi-tasking was the most exciting and anticipated feature of iPhone OS 4.0. Unfortunately, the iPad would not be receiving the iPhone OS 4.0 upgrade. The iPhone OS 4.0 release was for iPhone and iPod Touches only. This was the majority of the information released at the iPhone OS 4.0 event held for developers.
In June of 2010, at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), additional information was released about iPhone OS 4.0. The first, and biggest, was that the name would be changed from iPhone OS to iOS. This change was because iOS would be for more than just iPhone and iPod Touches. But also for iPads and any future products that Apple chose to develop. Also at the Apple WWDC, Apple introduced the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4 was probably one of the biggest changes to the iPhone line, in regards to hardware. In addition to a new form factor, a significant part of the product was changed. The first aspect changed is the screen. While it retained the 3.5-inch diagonal screen, the resolution on the screen was increased from 160 ppi to 326 ppi using a better screen that Apple dubbed “Retina”. This was called Retina due to the claim that it was a higher resolution than the human retina could actually see. Along with the Retina screen, the screen resolution increased from 480×320 to 960×640. The height and width both doubled. This doubling equates to four times the overall resolution.
The second big feature was the addition of a front-facing camera. While each model of the iPhone contained a camera on the rear of the phone, it was the first time that a front-facing camera was added. This front-facing camera allowed a new application, FaceTime, to be added to the iPhone. FaceTime was Apple's attempt to combat the popularity of Skype. FaceTime could only work over Wifi connections, but it was better than no option at all. FaceTime was completely free.
The third feature was rear-facing camera. This was a significant improvement. The camera could now handle 720p recording at 30 frames per second. 720p is better than DVD quality video. Along with the significantly better camera came an LED flash. The LED flash was used for both the still images as well as an additional light source for the video camera.
The fourth feature was a completely redesigned antenna. In fact, instead of having an antenna that was located inside the phone, the sides of the iPhone 4 became the antennas. This was a radical shift that allowed for more internal battery and space for components. This design choice actually had two different antennas on the device. One for the GSM phone and another for Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS antenna. One of the issues with this design was that if a user held their hand over the lower-left corner of an iPhone 4, that the GSM signal would deteriorate to the point where a call could be dropped. This incident was identified as “antennagate” by the press and bloggers. Apple did issue a fix for this problem by doing two things. The first was allowing customers to choose a free “bumper” case up to $30 in value. The second way was to issue a software update that mitigated the issue.
The fifth, and final big piece of the iPhone 4 launch was the release of iMovie for iPhone. iMovie was another port of a native OS X application that made it to the iPhone. iMovie was designed to take advantage of both of the cameras that were in the iPhone 4. iMovie for iPhone also allowed users to take and edit videos right on the phone without having to transfer them to their Mac or PC before being able to make changes. iMovie was yet another reason that iOS could be used for more than just consumption, but also for production of content.
The iPhone 4 announcement was one of the biggest for Apple. It signified a number of changes that would become the gold standard for other cell phones to mimic and attempt to copy.
iOS 4.1/iOS 4.2
WWDC 2010 was not Apple's last keynote for the year. In September of 2010 Apple held their Fall event. The September event introduced a few new features and items. The first item introduced at the September event was iOS 4.1. iOS 4.1 included bug fixes, but also brought with it, High Dynamic Range (HDR) photographs, TV Show Rentals, and HD video uploads.
The biggest feature of the September event was the sneak peak at iOS 4.2. iOS 4.2 brought the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch into parity with each other. iOS 4.2 included a few new features; AirPlay, Printing, and AirTunes. AirPlay was introduced as Apple's solution to being able to send what is on an iOS device to an Airport Express with a set of speakers attached. This could make it much easier to play music at a party or just while you are about the house. AirPlay, along with AirTunes, allowed users to not only stream their music, but also videos and photos.
AirPlay also brought with it the ability to Print. Until the release of iOS 4.2, if a user wished to print something from their iOS device, they would have to send an item via email to themselves and then print it from their computer. This would make it much easier for users to print from iOS devices. AirPrint was originally touted as being able to use a user's Mac to print to a printer, but this never came to fruition.
The event also brought new iPods, iPod Touches as well as Apple's Social network called ‘Ping'. While these are all significant in their own way, they did not bring that many additional features to iOS. There was one last thing. That thing would be a new iOS device.
Apple TV 2
The new iOS device was the Apple TV 2. The Apple TV 2 was a completely re-imagined product. While it still performed many of the same tasks as its predecessor, the original Apple TV. Since it was an ARM-based device like the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad were, it too was running a version of iOS. The Apple TV 2 was a streaming only device that would not allow any syncing of data to it. The Apple TV 2 allowed output up to 720p, which allowed the addition of HD movies as well as HD Television shows. The Apple TV 2 also utilized Apple's custom-designed processor, the A4.
The Apple TV 2 did keep YouTube and Flickr support. The Apple TV 2 did also add a big streaming service to the platform, Netflix. The biggest surprise though, was the price. The original Apple TV started off at $299 when it was initially released. The original Apple TV price was subsequently dropped down to $229. The Apple TV 2 was a rock-bottom price of just $99. This rounded out 2010 for Apple's keynotes and announcements.
The separate development lines for iOS for the iPad and iOS for the iPhone and iPod Touch remained until the release of iOS 4.2, which brought the development of iOS for iPad and iOS for iPhone and iPod touch into one release. However, this was short-lived as another introduction meant another set of separate development string.
In January of 2011, Verizon announced that it had reached a deal with Apple to begin distributing the iPhone 4 on its network. The only differences between this model, and the then current iPhone 4, was that the antenna configuration was slightly different and it also supported GSM for international travel. The prices and other features remained the same. The version of the software on the Verizon iPhone was 4.2.5. There was one additional item with the Verizon iPhone 4, a mobile hot spot. Users could use their iPhone as a mobile hotspot to allow the connection of other Wifi only devices.
On March 2nd, 2011, Apple held another announcement to introduce a new product, the iPad 2. There were a few significant changes with the iPad 2. These include a complete redesign from the original iPad. This tactic mimicked the route that the original iPhone and iPhone 3G took as well. Besides the physical redesign, there were also some other hardware improvements.
The iPad 2 used another new Apple-designed chip, the A5 processor. The A5 processor included dual-graphics and significantly better graphics performance. The A5 also sported the same low power consumption as the A4. The A5 made the iPad 2 a much faster device over the original iPad.
The second hardware change was the cameras. While the iPad included a rear-facing camera, the iPad 2 featured both an improved rear-facing camera as well as a front camera. The rear facing camera was upgraded to be able to take 720p recordings at 30 frames per second. The front-facing camera was still the standard VGA (640×480) resolution as it was on all other iOS devices with cameras.
The iPad 2 allowed a new feature, HDMI out. HDMI out allowed the iPad 2 to be mirrored, or have a secondary display depending on the application, using a proprietary 30-pin Dock to HDMI cable. In addition to HDMI out, a new cover was also introduced, The Smart Cover.
The Smart Cover utilized magnets to be able to hold onto one side of the iPad to cover the screen when not in use. The Smart Cover was designed to not only be a cover, but also have the ability to be a stand as well. A user could fold the smart cover to allow it to hold an iPad 2 upright, or lay it down, depending on preference and desired function. This made the Smart Cover one of the most talked about features of the iPad 2.
The iPad 2 also allowed a user to decide between choosing AT&T or Verizon for their 3G connectivity. Once a user decided which company they wanted to use, they were stuck with that choice. With the addition of White to the iPad this made the number of choices go from 6 to 18.
Beyond the new hardware changes on the iPad 2, also came some software changes. iOS 4.3 introduced a few features. These include, iTunes Home Sharing, Preference for what the iPad hardware switch does, personal hotspot, Photo Booth, iMovie, GarageBand, and FaceTime.
iTunes Home sharing, under iOS 4.3, was a new feature that allowed a user to see the media on all of their home computers by using the same Apple ID to login. iTunes Home sharing only worked over the local network, it could not work across the Internet. iTunes Home sharing required an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple TV 2 in order to be able to run.
The iPad had always had a hardware switch. This switch was able to mute and un-mute the iPad. With iOS 4.3, the user now had the option to decide what behavior the side switch exhibited. It could either be a rotation lock or a mute switch. Whichever option the user opted to not chose, would then become a software switch that was accessible via the multi-tasking control bar. For instance, if a user decided that they wanted the side-switch to be a rotation lock, the side-switch would be a rotation lock and the multi-tasking software switch would be the mute and un-mute button.
The personal hotspot was a feature only available on iPhone 4 devices. It could not be used on iPod touches nor on iPads, despite the iPad possibly having 3G connectivity. As previously mentioned Verizon's iPhone 4 included this feature when it was initially released. AT&T would allow hotspot sharing, if a user was willing to change their plan to a $45 per month minimum plan. $25 for the 2GB of data and $20 for hotspot sharing. Many users resisted changing plans because they had unlimited data plans.
With iOS 4.3, Apple continued to port over more of their Mac OS X applications to its iOS platform. The next mover was the infamous photo application, Photo Booth. Photo Booth on iOS allowed a user to use either camera to frame the shot they wanted and apply one of nine filters onto the image. Some of these filters included Mirror, Xray, Twirl, Kaleidoscope and Thermal Camera. Photo Booth, in case you are not aware, is the application that many perusers of the Apple Store use to show just what a Mac can actually do.
The next application that was ported was iMovie. iMovie was previously announced for the iPhone 4, but now it was updated to include an interface built for the iPad 2's larger screen. iMovie was not capable of being run on an original iPad. There was a work-around, however this was not sanctioned by Apple.
Apple did not stop with just porting over iMovie and Photo Booth, oh no. Apple also decided that its music making application GarageBand also needed to be on the iPad 2. GarageBand was built and designed from the ground up for Apple's innovative touch interface. Garageband offered a way to export songs built on an iPad to be exported to iTunes or emailed. Export to iTunes worked on both Macs and PCs.
The last piece of software that was previously available on iPhones and iPod Touches is FaceTime. FaceTime for iPad did not change in any appreciable way, except that it would not work on the original iPad since it did not have a front-facing camera.
iOS was available for iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads. The only caveat is that iOS 4.3 was not available for Verizon iPhones. These iPhones stayed on the 4.2 development chain while their brethren the GSM-based iPhones received the updates. To be fair, it was not a big deal since the Verizon iPhones had a majority of the features available on the GSM-based iPhones running iOS 4.3.
In keeping with its tradition, Apple held its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June of 2011. At WWDC 2011, Apple introduced iOS 5. iOS 5 brought with it a myriad of new features, including Notification Center, Newsstand, Twitter integration, Safari Reader List, Reminders, improved Camera application, improvements to Mail.app, No PC or Mac Needed for setup, Over the Air Software updates, Delta changes for software updates, GameCenter improvements, and iMessage.
One of the most anticipated changes of iOS 5 was the revamped notification system, Notification Center. Notification Center brought a central mechanism for all types of notifications. The notifications could be local, push, SMS/MMS and email. Notification Center allowed users to control what notifications that they saw. If the user wished to not see notifications about a particular application, they could disable it from Notification Center and they would no longer see it. There were three different alert types for Notification Center, Badges, Banners, and Alerts. Alerts were the traditional way of notifying a user that something occurred. Alerts were rounded-rectangle boxes that had two buttons, ‘Close' and ‘View'.
Badges had been around since the beginning where Mail.app would alert users to the number of emails that they had unread. Badges are the little numbered icons in the upper-right corner of an application that alert users to the fact that there is an action that needs to be done. With iOS 4.3, If an application was in a folder and a badge icon was notified to appear, the folder would show the badge icon. When a user opened up the folder the application with the badge icon would display.
Banners were the really new option. Banners were little notifications that appeared at the top of your iOS device that would only stay temporarily, in order to give the user a quick glance at the notification. If the user chose to, they could click on the notification and it would open up the application that generated the notification. However, if the user wished, they could just let the notification automatically close and it would appear in their Notification Center for them to take care of at a later time.
Along with Notification center, there was an additional application, Newsstand. Newsstand is a specialized folder that contains all of the newspapers and magazines that a user has purchased or has a subscription to. Some of these magazines could be Wired, Time, Reader's Digest, and National Geographic. Newsstand made it easier for users to be able to find all of their subscribed periodicals in a single location.
Twitter, in case you are not aware, was a social network that began in 2006 and gained significant popularity during 2007 and 2008. Twitter continued to add users well into 2012 and still continues to grow. After Apple's failed social network, Ping, they chose a new route for their social networking ventures; integrate with an existing popular social network. Apple chose to integrate iOS with Twitter. In order to use Twitter, a user had to download the official Twitter application and then sign up for an account. At this point, posting to Twitter could easily be done from Notification Center, the official Twitter application, or from any 3rd Party Twitter client that the user had installed. Interacting with others would still need to be done via a Twitter client.
Mobile Safari mirrors many aspects of its Desktop cousin. Mobile Safari added a couple of new features, most notably, Safari Reading List. Reading lists are a way to save articles for consumption at a later date. Reading List was merely a bookmaking feature that put all of the things that you did not wish to permanently bookmark into one location.
Reminders was an application that was first introduced with iOS 5. Reminders took the idea of a task-list and made it a bit more elegant. Reminders can integrate with email servers, like Gmail or even Microsoft Exchange servers. Reminders also allows reminders to be location-based. This can be very useful for those who need to pick up milk, or stop to pick up dry cleaning on the user's way home. Reminders will synchronize across all of a user's iOS devices that run iOS 5.
The camera application, present since the initial iPhone's release in June of 2007, has been one of the most used applications for many iPhone owners. With the better camera in the iPhone 4 it made sense to create a quicker way for users to take pictures. Prior to iOS 5, users were required to unlock their phone and then find the camera application in order to be able to take a picture. Sometimes, this was just not quick enough for a user and they could easily miss an opportunity to take a picture. To rectify this, Apple put a camera button on the lock screen.
This button would allow any user to take a picture without having to enter in the PIN that was used to be able to unlock the device. Any pictures that were taken previously were protected and could not be seen without unlocking the phone. This was not the only feature added to the Camera application. While the camera application is opened, a user can use the ‘Volume Up' button to take pictures instead of having to rely on the on-screen button. The addition of this feature allowed users to more easily, and quickly, take pictures thereby assuring that they would not miss an opportunity to take a picture.
The next application to be modified was the Mail application. Mail.app under iOS 5 brought a few new features to the application. These features included Rich Text Format (RTF) in messages, Indentation control, the ability to flag messages, search within entire messages, and S/MIME support.
The inclusion of Rich Text Format allows iOS to receive email messages that have portions of the message be bold, italics, and differing fonts. The differing fonts and font decorations means that users are able to receive and create emails that allow emphasis. It's a small feature, but every little bit helps.
One of the most difficult tasks to accomplish on a mobile device is indenting an entire paragraph so that it is uniformly indented. This might be possible to do with using a font like courier new, but it may not be received properly on the the other end of the email. Therefore, indentation allows you to indent an entire paragraph by selecting the text, and then selecting the “BIU” button, which stands for Bold, Italics and Underline. You can then choose which option you wish to have applied to the selected text.
There is one aspect to many email inboxes that some users utilize to create to-do lists, that item is flagging messages. I know that I am one who uses flagged email messages as a list of items to do. I use this at work constantly, so that I know what email need to be replied to or taken care of. Prior to iOS 5.0, it was not possible to flag messages. You were only able to flag messages on the server but any messages that you did flag would not be reflected on your iOS 4.3 device.
One of the most important tools for any user who has a significant amount of stored mail is the ability to search for messages that were previously received. Sometimes users remember the name of the sender or the subject. However, most times the user does not. The ability to search within messages makes it more likely that a user will be able to successfully find what they are looking for. Under version of iOS prior to 5.0, users were stuck with the inability to find their email messages. This was a definite improvement for productivity for many iOS 5 users.
If there is a single item that corporations are concerned about it's protecting their corporate data. By the very nature of its invention, email is 100% insecure. Anybody who cares to, and has sufficient access, could listen the traffic that is flowing across the Internet and read all of the email messages that are sent every day. One way to combat this possibility is to encrypt the messages. One method of encryption is Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME). S/MIME uses Public Key cryptography to be able to encode a message so that only the intended recipient is able to decode the message. By doing this, only a sender with the proper private key could encrypt the message so that the recipient, who would have the sender's public key, would be able to decrypt the message and read the contents. This is a huge security mechanism that is great on mobile devices.
Since the introduction of the original iPod back in 2001, in order to sync media, upgrade software, and backup the iPod, a user would have to connect it to their computer via the 30-pin connector. This remained the case though the entire iPod line. The situation remained the same for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch through iOS 4.3. iOS 5 changed the entire game. Instead of having to always connect your iOS device to your computer for updates, a user could synchronize their devices over Wifi.
The more savvy users of iOS already knew that this was possible. It has been done in the jailbreak community as well as a having an application that met all of Apple's application rules, did not use any private APIs, and would have been a fantastic application to have before iOS 5. Along with wireless syncing, iOS 5 no longer required a user to connect the iOS device to a PC in order to set it up. Instead, a user can now setup an iOS device right on the device. I know for me, the first time I setup my iPhone without needing to connect it to my iMac, it was a spectacular experience.
Another aspect to the ‘No PC needed' update with iOS 5 was the ability to update your iOS device Over Wifi. Yes, over Wifi. It would not make any sense to have to get software updates by connecting the device to a PC or Mac when a user doesn't need to connect the device to do the initial setup. I am aware that other devices do require connecting to a PC to update, it's just not the Apple way of creating a user experience.
You might think, ‘Fantastic, updates and syncing without wires; That's all I need.' Not quite. iOS Software updates have progressively gotten larger. iOS 5.1.1 for the iPhone 4S comes in at 803MB for the full restore. For many users, downloading this large of a file would be a deal breaker. Instead, Apple has come up with ‘Delta' updates. Delta updates are smaller updates that only incorporate the changes from the current iOS version to the latest. This method s a lot like downloading OS X software updates. For instance, going from OS X 10.8.0 to OS X 10.8.1, the update was a mere 7MB for the incremental update. The ‘Combo Update' for OS X 10.8.1 was 24.2 MBs. The delta updates are much smaller. These smaller updates mean two things. First, more users will download them and stay up to date. The second is that the updates do not put such a heavy burden on a user's internet connection. Now who couldn't like the changes thus far.
Apple likes to pack a lot into their keynotes, and with iOS 5 they didn't disappoint. When Apple introduced GameCenter it was rather well received. As users became accustom to the service, they realized that some things were definitely missing from GameCenter. Apple opted to add a few of the suggested features to GameCenter. These updates include, Achievement points, Friend Discovery, ability to see friends of friends, new game discovery, turn based games, and game downloads.
The addition of achievements adds a bit more competition within games. Many ‘hardcore gamers' use achievements as both a sense of accomplishment as well as for bragging rights. Achievements have been around, within gaming, for a long time but did not become extremely popular until the release of the Xbox. Many gamers try to get all of the achievements for games in order to give themselves bragging rights with their gaming friends, this has now been extended to iOS' GameCenter.
One of the things that a social gaming platform needs, is the ability to find friends. GameCenter used your AddressBook to be able to locate friends who are currently on GameCenter. While this worked, sometimes it could be limiting if you didn't have your friends in your Address Book. One way that people find others is through friends. To this end Apple also added ‘Friends of Friends'. Friends of Friends would allow a GameCenter user to see who their current friends were also friends with. This is just a fundamental way of using social networking.
There is one type of game that has been very predominate, even before the invention of Pong, turn-based games. Within iOS 5 developers were now able to create games that took advantage of using a turn-based mechanism for gameplay. Some examples could be Chess, Checkers, Battleship, and games like Final Fantasy. The inclusion of turn-based gaming allowed a whole new category of games to make their way to the App Store.
User experience is a high priority for Apple. To be able to provide the best user experience, if an iOS 5 user is using the GameCenter application, they are able to purchase and download games from directly within the application, all without having to leave the application. This biggest benefit is to allow users to have a better experience. It is not a wise idea to force a user to switch applications when trying to give you money.
Since the initial release of the iPhone in June of 2007, Apple has sold well over 365 Million iOS devices (through March 30th, 2012). Assuming that not all of these are active, a very conservative estimate would be 150 Million active devices. 150 Million active users for ANY platform is a lot of users. Many of these iOS devices are iPod Touches and iPads which do not have any sort of messaging capability. In order to give ALL of Apple's iOS users the ability to communicate with other iOS users, Apple came up with iMessages.
iMessages is Apple's free answer to the cell phone provider's Short Message Service (SMS). iMessages utilizes Apple's cloud infrastructure to allow all iOS devices to be able to send messages to each other. iMessages uses email addresses, as well as cell phone numbers, to determine how to reach other devices. iMessages offers the ability to see when a user is typing, in real time along with sending images and video to other users. The big feature of iMessages is that any messages sent can be received on any user's devices that supports iMessages. The last feature of iMessages, that you do not get with typical SMS, is the ability to get a delivery receipt. A delivery receipt signifies that the message did get sent to one of the intended recipient's iOS devices.
There was one last piece of the entire Apple puzzle that was introduced at WWDC 2011, iCloud. iCloud is Apple's replacement for its Mobile Me service, which was announced at WWDC 2008 and launched on July 9th, 2008. With the transition from MobileMe to iCloud, some features were removed because they did not fit into Apple's vision. These features include, Mobile Me galleries, iDisk, and iWeb. There are no direct replacements for these services within iCloud. Despite these being removed, iCloud does provide some of its own functionality that is quite useful. iCloud offers contacts syncing, calendar syncing, and mail services, shared calendars, push email, document syncing, application syncing, photo sync, and syncing of purchased music, books and videos.
When Apple conceived of iCloud, I am sure that they realized that there were many customers who had multiple iOS devices. While syncing was available, it was kludgey, particularly under Mobile Me. In order to provide a better experience for its customers, Apple opted to have iCloud do a better job of syncing information. Instead of merely synching Apple devices to take the approach of pushing information to devices. Utilizing push services, versus pulling, meant that Apple's iCloud was now responsible for keeping track of which device was up to date; removing the responsibility from the user. Thus, creating a better experience. This was the case for contacts, and calendars, as well as mail services for @me.com addresses.
A new feature with iCloud on iOS 5 was the ability to share calendars. This feature had been available in other mail services, like Gmail, for some time. But it was a disaster to try and get this to properly work on iOS. With Shared Calendars, one iOS user sets up a calendar with their iCloud account. That user then shares out that calendar with the second user. The second user should then be allowed to change the calendar as well as the original user.
iCloud also provided a way for users to get all of their documents stored in iCloud on all of their iOS devices. iCloud allowed developers to store user-created documents into the cloud, for later retrieval. The only limitation is that documents created with one application, could not be edit with another. The only way to send a document that is created by a program is either via email, or if the application supports it, through iTunes File Sharing. There is no way for developers to build in the ability to share data between applications and iOS does not have this functionality.
Apple also introduced the ability to have all of your photos pushed to all of your iOS devices. They called this Photo Stream. When Photo Stream was first introduced, there was no way to remove individual photos from your photo stream. Photo Stream would synchronize all of a user's photos into a giant timeline that was pushed to all of the user's iOS devices. It was not just photos, but also videos as well.
The last ‘push' mechanism introduced with iOS 5 was the ability to push all of a user's iTunes purchases to all of their devices. Instead of being more of a push mechanism, it was automatic downloading. The automatic push/downloading included books from the iBooks store, music from the iTunes Store, and applications. The automatic syncing of the purchased media meant that users would not have to worry about “Did I download this song onto my iPhone” or “Where did I purchase that application, was I at my computer”. Instead, all of the aforementioned items would be sent to the iOS devices, or computers.
The final aspect to iCloud is iTunes Match. iTunes Match is a service that will take any of your already acquired music, be it from ripped CDs or other means, and match it with the entire iTunes catalog. If a song is not in the iTunes catalog, it is uploaded to iCloud. iTunes Match does have a limit to the number of songs that it is capable of handling, 25,000 songs. If you had purchased music from iTunes, this music would automatically be available and does not count towards the 25,000 song limit. If a user uploads a file that is 96kbps and it is matched with iTunes Match, the user's file will automatically be upgraded to a 256kbps version of the song. However, if a song does not match any in the iTunes catalog, it will be uploaded as it is as the same bit rate as the original. iTunes Match does just store your files, it will also allow you to stream any of your songs from iCloud to your iOS devices, including an Apple TV. While this service does have a lot of features, it is not free. iTunes Match costs $24.99 per year to keep your music in iCloud. However, if your hard drive does manage to die, you will be able to retrieve all of your music without having to re-pay for all of it.
As one may come to expect, Apple did show off a lot at their WWDC keynotes, and this one did not disappoint. This was not the end of the news for iOS in 2011. Apple did manage to announce a couple of very big stories that were non-iOS related. Both of them revolved around Founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. On August 24th, 2011, Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, Inc. He only said that he would do this if he was “No longer able to do the job”. Jobs was replaced by current CEO Tim Cook. The second, and more shocking, event occurred on October 5th, 2011. Apple, Inc announced the death of founder and CEO Steve Jobs. It was a very sad day for Apple, Inc and the Apple community as a whole. Despite the sad news, Apple did continue on its journey of releasing the best products possible.
Apple also held another event on October 4th, 2011 named ‘Let’s Talk iPhone'. The October 4th event was CEO Tim Cook's first since being named CEO. Apple announced a few new items at this event. These items include Cards, Find my Friends, iTunes Match, iPod Touch updates, and the iPhone 4S.
Cards was an application that would allow users to create cards right on the iOS device. There were a variety of card design choices. A user could choose which design they wished to use, edit the pictures, add some customized and add some text. The user could then opt to have the card mailed for a fee of $2.99 within the US and $4.99 internationally. The purchase would be an an in-app purchase and a user could pay with their existing iTunes account.
Find my friends was the second application that was announced. Find my friends is a pseudo social network. Find my friends would allow a user to see the location of their friends, if their friends gave permission. Find my friends would display a friend's current location on a map. Find my friends would quite well for parents who want to see where their children are located.
The two bigger announcement at the October 4th event were the iPod Touch and iPhone 4S. The iPod Touch did not get updated, but did get a few tweaks. First, the iPod Touch would run iOS 5. This is no big surprise, but it is nice to have confirmation. The bigger news regarding the iPod Touch was that it would be available in White. When the iPhone 4 was originally released, there were some issues regarding the White model. It took nearly 9 months after the iPhone 4 was launched to have the White model be available in quantity. So it was nice to see a White iPod Touch be available. The iPod Touch also got a price drop. The 8GB iPod Touch was reduced to $199. A 32GB and 64GB models would cost $299 and $399 respectively. Not a major update, but a nice change that provided additional options for users.
The biggest news, and star of the show, was the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S was the successor to the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S kept the same form-factor as the iPhone 4. Retaining the same form-factor for two models had become Apple's standard pattern. The iPhone 4S sported the same A5 processor as the iPad 2. The iPhone 4S could also included dual antennas. The iPhone 4S could intelligently switch between the two antennas, in the middle of a call. The use of dual antennas could also allow faster data transmission speeds using 4G technology. By 4G, this does not mean Long Term Evolution (LTE), but 4G as the generic term used by cellular providers to mean anything above 3G. The iPhone 4S was theoretically capable of handling speeds of 14.4 Mbps downloads and 5.8 Mbps upload.
The next feature of the iPhone 4S was that it was a world phone. What this means is that instead of needing two different models, there only needed to be one model that could handle both GSM and CDMA. This made this who opted to go with a CDMA-based operator, like Verizon or Sprint, could now travel the world and not have any issues.
The third big feature was the camera. Apple has included a camera since the original iPhone in 2007. The iPhone camera has always been superior to the camera on Apple's other iOS devices. The iPhone 4S was no exception to this tradition. The iPhone 4S included an 8 megapixel sensor that was capable of creating images that were 3264 pixels by 2448 pixels. This was a 60% increase in number of pixels over the iPhone 4. The new sensor in the iPhone 4S was illuminated from the backside, which means it could let in more light and provide more light, which works well in low-light situations. The camera also included better face-detection software, which makes it easier to focus on the people in the shots instead of other elements.
While still photos may be the biggest draw for the iPhone 4S, motion picture video also got an upgrade. With the iPhone 4, the camera was able to take 720p video. The iPhone 4S was capable of handling 1080p video. This is a significant improvement over 720p video. The addition of 1080p video made it the best camera that many users had ever owned up until the point. It still is the best camera I have ever owned and still own.
This was not the end of the iPhone 4S event. Apple also introduced a new feature of iOS 5, Siri. Prior to the October 4th event, Siri was an application that was available on the iTunes store. Siri would now be integrated into iOS 5 for the iPhone 4S only. The integrated Siri did not have nearly the functionality as the application Siri, but it was a start to the integration. There were a few things that a user could ask Siri. These included, asking for restaurants, current time and weather, set an alarm, calendar inquiries, read and respond to messages, get definitions, play songs, find contacts, write notes, and of course, search the web. The default response, if Siri could not not locate the information was to ‘search the web'. Many of the results that Siri retrieved were from Wolfram Alpha, which not a bad thing.
There were also a few other small announcements at the event. An 8GB version of the iPhone 4 was reduced to $99 and the iPhone 3GS would be free. Both of these were on a 2-year contract with a carrier. Apple also did update the iPod Nano at the October 4th, 2011 event. They were not discussed because they do not ‘officially' run iOS. We can speculate that they do run a VERY stripped down version of iOS, but the multi-touch interface is not considered to be iOS. While this may be the last event held in 2011, Apple never really stops innovating and updating. This is the case with the events held in 2012.
Apple had many surprises in 2012. It started in January with a special Educational event. Apple began this event by describing the current state of education in the United States. Apple then introduced a new application, iBooks 2. iBooks 2 now supported electronic textbooks. Apple saw iBooks 2 as a way to reset the educational system by providing a way for schools and educators to provide electronic textbooks to students. The goal had a myriads of facets. The first is the ability to reduce the overall cost of textbooks. The second was to provide a way to get technology in schools by allowing schools and educators to create their own textbooks instead of relying on traditional print publication. The electronic textbook allows a book to be updated on a faster cycle than publishing a print volume.
In order for schools to adopt iBooks, Apple needed to provide a way to easily create text books. Apple announced the availability of iBooks Author. iBooks Author was capable of not only creating basic electronic textbooks but also creating interactive textbooks. These textbooks could include interactive elements. These elements could be a video, an interactive image or even just text. Creators of the textbooks can include multiple-choice quizzes. Readers of the textbooks can make notes on any section of the text.
iBooks Author is designed to be just as simple to use as Apple's office productivity software Pages. iBooks Author allows anybody to create, edit, and manipulate an existing iBooks title. iBooks Author also includes accessibility features, such as the ability to provide text for voice-over. iBooks Author also provides a way for users to preview the finished product of their iBooks. This can be done by connecting an iPad to the Mac that they are using to edit the iBook. The iBook will be published to the iPad as a “proof”. iBooks Author was provided as a free download so creators could get started creating textbooks. The royalty rates remained the same as with any other
There are a few limitations with iBooks textbooks. iBooks textbooks are only available on the iPad. Users of the iPod Touch and iPhone are not able to read iBooks textbooks on their iOS devices. While the content of books published as iBooks Textbooks remain the copyright of the creator, the format of the books can only be sold through the iBooks store. As of this writing there are only 158 iBooks textbooks in the iTunes Store. While this may not be any, it's 158 more than were available when the iBooks store when the product was announced.
While many would think that iBooks 2 and iBooks Author would be enough of a presentation, Apple had one more ace up its sleeve, iTunes U. iTunes U received an upgrade by now having an application to go along with the course content already in iTunes U. The iTunes U application allows a user to browse the catalog of iTunes U content, Subscribe to classes,
The Education event was not the only one in early 2012. Apple also held an event on March 7th, 2012. The March 7th event was to introduce iOS 5.1, a new Apple TV, and the third generation iPad.
iOS 5.1 was not a significant upgrade over iOS 5. It added a few new features. These features include Japanese language support for Siri, the ability to delete individual photos in photo stream, a revamped iPad Camera user interface, some battery life issues with iOS 5.0, and app store limits increased to 50 MB, from 20MB. The ability to delete individual photos is probably the biggest feature of iOS 5 for many users, quickly followed by the fix for battery life issues.
The 3rd Generation Apple TV was a slight upgrade over the Apple TV 2. The Apple TV 3 had the same form-factor, but now supported 1080p video. This upgrade to 1080p video meant that users could now take full advantage of their flat-panel televisions. The Apple TV 3 also supported iTunes Match and TV Shows would now be arriving the day after they air on television. The Apple TV 3 also had a completely revamped interface. The previous Apple TV 2's could also be upgraded to have the same interface. The price point for the Apple TV remained the same at $99.
3rd Generation iPad
The last item, the 3rd Generation iPad was the big item of the announcement. The 3rd Generation iPad has some significant new features. These include a Retina display, a a new processor which allowed for better graphics performance, a new camera, voice dictation, and Long Term Evolution (LTE) for 4G connectivity. The 3rd Generation iPad retained the same form-factor and price points as the previous iPad 2.
While not the first Retina display on an iOS device, the Retina display on an iPad signified that Apple had been working on the manufacturing process for Retina displays, that would allow larger screens. The resolution of the 3rd Generation iPad was 2048 pixels by 1536 pixels. This resolution meant that the 3rd generation iPad now had more pixels than any 1080p television. The Retina display also meant that the colors on the display looked even better than the iPad 2's graphics.
To run this larger Retina display a new processor, the A5X, was needed. Apple improved the A5X to have four times the graphics performance of the previous A5 chip. The A5X included quad-core graphics. Quad-core graphics within a mobile device.
Along with the Retina display Apple also included an improved camera. The camera was improved to be a 5 megapixel sensor, with autofocus and white balance, and face detection. The improved camera also allowed for 1080p video to be recorded, just like on the iPhone 4S. The camera also included image stabilization, which is much needed since being able to stabilize a bulky iPad is no easy feat.
Voice Dictation was a new feature that was a subset of Siri functionality. Voice dictation allowed any user to use their voice instead of having to type out items on the keyboard. Voice dictation used voice processing that was the same as what was used in Dragon Naturally speaking. In order to access Voice dictation, a user had to first enable voice dictation in the Settings. The next step would be to click on the Microphone icon on the lower left portion of the keyboard.
The last feature that was added to the 3rd Generation iPad was LTE connectivity. LTE was a significant improvement over 3G connectivity. LTE allowed faster connections when traveling away from Wifi. the addition of LTE also provided hope that the next iPhone would also include LTE connectivity. Apple could include LTE because they knew that it would not significantly impact battery life on the 3rd Generation iPad. The addition LTE also brought with it the ability to use the iPad as a hotspot, if the carrier's supported the functionality. This means that a user could subscribe to a data plan on their 3rd Generation iPad and connect their other devices to the iPad over Wifi.
The last item that the 3rd Generation iPad included was a new moniker by Apple. Instead of calling it the iPad 3, as one would expect, they chose to called it “The new iPad”. Apple chose this for a couple of reasons. The first was to get away from using a numbering scheme. By constantly using a numbering scheme, if a smaller product was introduced mid-cycle, the numbering would be off. The second reason is that Apple believed that the 3rd Generation iPad was such a game changer that it should warrant just being called ‘iPad', as the original iPad was in 2010.
The Apple March 7th event was a big event in the evolution of the iPad and Apple TV. It brought significant new products to the iOS line.
This is where we stand right now with the progression of iOS. We are all aware that the book on iOS has not been finished. We'll all get a glimpse into the future tomorrow.