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iOS5 – Apple Reigns In The Innovation

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Apple recently announced the latest updates to it’s iOS platform, which runs on the Apple iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone devices. The latest update (iOS5) includes 200+ new features and improvements to the platform. I’ll highlight some of the biggest improvements below why they may not be good for innovation and for Apple in the long term.

Apple IOS5

It was a well known fact notifications on iOS were intrusive and lacked any real use other than to do a very simple basic function of notifying. The new notification center improves on the old poor implementation and actually adds value. Albeit looking very similar to that of Android and WebOS. Many would argue Apple has ripped off the two aforementioned platforms, but I think they’ve not only done that but improved on it, and probably in a way neither Android nor WebOS could have done if they had attempted. All in all this is good for both Apple and it’s competitors. A great example of how improvements can be carried out and upgraded.

…you can keep track of them all in one convenient location. Just swipe down from the top of any screen to enter Notification Center.

For users of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices which will support iMessage, this is a very good feature. A unified integrated platform to message and share content for free. For the 3rd party developers this is perhaps a big kick in the teeth. Platforms like WhatsApp, will be pushed out of Apple’s system with this. Apple may be trying to impersonate Blackberry’s BBM service, but what they have created is an ecosystem where Apple users will in reality choose to ignore those 3rd party services and use the native in built system. That’s just how things work. Operators selling SMS bundles might as well just give up now.

You can send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to anyone one with those devices. iMessage is built into the Messages app, so you can send text, send photos, videos, locations and contacts.

This surprised me somewhat. I didn’t expect Apple to put Twitter integration deep into the OS. With this feature users will be able to tweet away to their desires from within iOS devices. What this will do for Twitter’s 3rd party apps is yet to be seen, but yet again, having an integrated service in such an environment will only constrict innovation and make 3rd party developers for the platform that much more difficult to break through. Apps like Seesmic, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite will have to find new ways to make sure users download their apps by offering better innovation and services. With Twitter clamping down on how Twitter is experienced in 3rd party apps, this could get ugly.

Sign in once in Settings, and suddenly you can tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps.

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Android, WP7, WebOS and in more recent times Symbian users have had this setup for a long time, finally Apple decides to join the de-facto method of activating and updating devices via an OTA (over the air) method. Where previously activating or upgrading an iOS device required the use of iTunes, now it’s a lot more easier. I do think this was done in order to clamp down on the jail-breaking of Apple devices. With the announcement of iCloud this is yet another instance where I think Apple tightens its hold on controlling the Apple experience whilst being done with those looking to do stuff with their devices Apple doesn’t approve of. As small as this crowd maybe, I fear for the platform.

With iOS 5, you no longer need a computer to own an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Activate and set up your device wirelessly, right out of the box. Download free iOS software updates directly on your device.

Whilst I do applaud some of the great improvements and enhanced features included with iOS5, I do fear for the flexibility users have when signing up to the system itself. As we move forward I do think it may become a matter of choosing one platform and being locked into that environment over another. With the way Apple likes to control its user’s experiences, it feels quite like a dictatorship from an outsider looking in. I hope we don’t end up being in a situation where owning a mobile handset means signing up your choices and liberties too.

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