Let’s start with the good stuff. To begin with I think it’s highly commendable that this is being rolled out to all iDevices and that downloading was a free experience. The same can’t be said of other operating systems where you are left waiting for months on end for the manufacturer or carrier to get their act together and pass along the latest release, which is a definite feather in the Apple cap.
Everything is definitely a little more streamlined in iOS 5, although frankly the competition demands that it needs to be, so this shouldn’t come as any great surprise. The overall look is pretty much the same, although there are subtle improvements to the look of some shortcuts like music which makes it a little more eye-catching but nothing noteworthy. Apart from the additional icons of messages, reminders and newsstand there's nothing new to see here.
The integration between so many separate functions is a really welcome addition. My favorite function so far is the Notifications Center -- just pull down from the top of the screen to get updated on pretty much anything you wish. Certain areas are included in these notifications already, and others you have to add -- I thought it was a bit strange that 'mail' wasn't one that was already included though. Then there were odd choices that had been included, but it's all easy to sort out in the notifications area of your settings menu.
There are some subtleties that will make your life that tiny bit easier too, such as when tapping on a photo you have many more options such as 'Tweet' and 'Message' so the integration here is useful.
iMessage has been dubbed as the app to win over BlackBerry users owing to its similarity to BB Messenger. You can bypass the need for SMS and chat for free with anyone else who has iMessage whether it be on iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. You get features such as notification when a message has been read, and see when the other person is typing too. Much more of a conversation than with a standard text -- this realtime chat capability is going to be huge.
Not everyone is going to appreciate Reminders as it's a pretty simple little addition, but for someone who needs lists for everything I already love it. Write your list and tick each item off as it's accomplished. Did I also mention you can add alarms and get reminded about stuff you need to do all integrated into the Notifications Center too?
iCloud is amazing and could take up a whole review on its own most likely. It's simply fantastic that this has been included and that you get 5 GB of storage for free...free! You're onto a winner here too as things likes your iTunes music aren't included in your allocation. You can buy more storage if you need it though. If you have more than one iDevice you will find it especially useful to make sure that what you do on one will automatically get updated to the other, but the rest of us can still make use of the storage and backup advantages that iCloud brings. Super easy to set up too, it just used my AppleID, a few taps and it was done.