iOS 5 adds Wi-Fi syncing, iMessage and new notifications

iOS 5 is alive, packing a raft of new features -- you no longer need to plug your iPhone or iPad into your computer to sync and update.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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iOS 5 is alive, packing a raft of new features -- you no longer need to plug your iPhone or iPad into your computer to sync and update. Software updates will now be beamed to your phone automatically over the air, and you can sync your stuff to iTunes over Wi-Fi, so you may never need that white cable ever again.

Apple revealed the next version of the software powering Apple's mobile devices at developer conference WWDC, showing off new features and new apps. Notifications are revamped, Mail has been overhauled and Twitter is now built-in. Wi-Fi syncing happens at night when your phone is charging and you're fast asleep.

New apps on the block: iMessage, Notification Centre, News Stand

iMessage is a new instant messager for sending messages to other iOS 5users. It's similar to the massively popular BlackBerry Messenger that lets BlackBerry users send messages to each other for free. Messages, photos and videos are encrypted, go to iPhones and iPads, and work over both 3G and Wi-Fi.

The new Notification Centre, sorry, Center, put all your notifications and reminders in one place, which you open by swiping from the top. Sound familiar? It will to users of Google's rival Android system. Reminders can be assigned to a location, so your phone can nag you when you arrive at a particular place.

There's a new home for digital magazines and newspapers too, called Newsstand. It looks like iBooks for news, automatically downloading new issues of your favourite reads like Project or The Daily.

Photo feature

Twitter is built-in to many apps, so you can tweet a picture directly from the camera app, or tweet your location from Maps.

You can also take a picture with the volume button or onscreen when your phone is locked, so there's no missing a photo because you're waiting for the Camera app to open. We'd guess the volume button doubling as a shutter button is a temporary fix, and the next phone will have a proper shutter button.

Pictures can be rotated, cropped and edited right there on your phone.

I like to improve it: Safari, Mail

Web browser Safari now has tabbed browsing, which Apple claims is "lightning fast" switching between webpages. Safari Reader makes online articles easier to read, stripping out adverts and combining multiple pages into one. You can email a whole article too for a friend to read, and not just a link.

Mail gets rich text formatting, flagging and improved searching. The onscreen keyboard can now split in half for easier typing with two hands (or thumbs).

iOS 5 will be available this autumn -- when the iPhone 5 launches? Keep it Crave to find out.