Apple iOS 5: need to know

We guide you through what you can expect from the latest version of the iPhone and iPad operating system...

No computer required

iTunes haters and non-computer owners have long complained about the need to use the music player program for setting up a brand new iOS device before it can be used. This should no longer necessary due to an on-device setup wizard.

Future iOS updates will now be delivered over-the-air, instead of requiring a connection to iTunes on a computer.

Future iOS updates will now be delivered over-the-air, instead of requiring a connection to iTunes on a computer, since Apple has switched from resending the entire OS every time an upgrade is released to a 'delta' system where only the OS files that have changed will be delivered. This will presumably work best over a WiFi connection rather than 3G.

Other tasks which once required a computer no longer do, such as creating or deleting calendars or mailboxes. We'd be very surprised if it'd be possible to undertake troubleshooting tasks without the aid of a computer though, such as reinstalling iOS from scratch.

If you do want to synchronise your iOS device with a computer, it will be possible to do so over WiFi instead of USB.

iMessage

Apple has introduced the new iMessage app in iOS 5 which the company is promoting as a free substitute for SMS text messages, although it sounds more like an alternative to instant messaging to us.

The iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch-compatible app works over 3G or WiFi and allows the sending of text, images, videos and contacts between a pair of recipients or groups. All messages will be encrypted and the app will support both delivery and read receipts. We'd be surprised if Facetime wasn't integrated into iMessage Apple's video conferencing service is currently integrated into the Phone app on the iPhone but is a separate app on the iPad and iPod Touch.

It's unclear whether iMessage also incorporates SMS/MMS and Twitter, although we don't know anyone who still uses MMS. It's also unclear whether Apple is allowing third parties to make iMessage-compatible clients, as the company is doing with Facetime. If not, then iMessage sounds like Apple's equivalent of Blackberry Messenger.

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