Device operating systems

Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5

Without a new iPhone or iPad to announce, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is tiding over the mobile industry with some significant updates to its operating system. Features borrowed from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), BlackBerry , HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), as well as some Apple originals, make up the new iOS 5. (See Apple Teases Software-Focused WWDD.)

Apple's latest software iteration is arguably the biggest overhaul since Apple introduced the phone four years ago. Developers will gain access to more than 1,500 new APIs and users will get over 200 new features, Scott Forstall, VP of iOS engineering, told WWDC attendees Monday.

Here's just a few of the iOS updates unveiled:

  • Messaging makeover: The most notable refresh Apple made was to messaging with iMessage, an SMS and MMS protocol similar to RIM's popular BlackBerry Messenger. The app will run native to the iPhone, routing messages, videos or contacts to other Apple products. The feature runs over Wi-Fi or 3G, pitting it against the wireless operators for messaging revenue and potentially causing a storm of new video traffic. Like BlackBerry, it also includes delivery receipts and notifications of when the other person is typing a response. (See OS Watch: Android Lets Developers Go Hungry.)

  • Notification center: Apple has pushed 100 billion notifications to consumers to date, but it ends with iOS 5. Notifications will now be outlined in a drop-down menu at the top of the home screen, much like HP's webOS. (See HP Veers Into the Future of WebOS.)

  • Widgetry: In addition to notifications, the pull-down screen will include widgets with quick access to weather, stocks, news and more. Sound familiar? Android popularized and refined the widget interface with each of its OS updates.

  • Lock-screen lowdown: Rather than just seeing your background image of choice, iOS 5's lock screen will feature notification icons that can be dragged open for immediate access to the app, including the phone's camera. HTC CEO Peter Chou also showed off this functionality at last week's Uplinq conference as part of an update to its Sense user interface. (See HTC Knocks Some Sense Into Developers.)

  • OS to the cloud: The new software update lets users wirelessly back up and synch their devices thanks to iCloud. All app updates will be issued over the air. (See What's in Apple's iCloud?)

  • Enterprise updates: Mail is much improved on iOS 5 with better encryption support and a new split keyboard for thumb typers, similar to what Microsoft unveiled in Windows 8.

  • Twitter tie-in: Apple is teaming up with Twitter Inc. to more tightly integrate the app into the browser, as well as its photos and camera apps, so users can attach a picture to a Tweet in one step.

  • Apple Safari: Android's popular Web browser is now open sourced on Apple. It includes full-tab browsing, reading lists and optimized Web pages for the iPhone or iPad.

    Apple's iOS 5 will be released to all existing customers on the last two generations of Apple hardware this fall, perhaps coinciding with its next hardware release. (See AT&T LTE Plans Too Small for LTE iPhone?, AT&T's LTE Plans Provide Clue to iPhone 5 Launch and New Networks Hint at an iPhone 5 Timeline.)

    [Ed. Note: Information pulled from WWDC live blogs from This Is My Next and TechCrunch.] — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

  • sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:03:13 PM
    re: Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5

    I'm a big fan of the notification updates. The push notices are quite annoying as is. It'll be much cleaner like this.

    I'm curious to hear what other people think about the updates? All you hoped for and more?

    DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:03:13 PM
    re: Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5

    Thus continues the gadget industry's weird obsession with who was first to market with a feature or nuance. It hardly matters.

    The takeaway here is that yet another widely deployed smartphone OS is taking big steps to make sharing data and video a more fluid motion. Whatever OS is on your phone, I think everyone is pretty pleased about how much easier it is to consume and share video and big data files compared to just two years ago.

    The guys running wireless networks certainly have noticed. :)

    sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:03:09 PM
    re: Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5

    I think it matters in that there is very little companies can do to differentiate these days, especially from Apple. Features like video sharing are going to become table stakes. And even if someone else did it first, Apple will probably do it better.

    DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:03:09 PM
    re: Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5

    Yeah, good point. Maybe the only way to set a company apart is to add things like Skype to platforms like Windows.



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