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Apple iOS 5 review

There's a lot to like about the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, but some rough edges remain as we discover in our review.

One of the biggest bugbears with iOS 4 was performance on older hardware specifically the iPhone 3G. Although supported with a reduced feature set, many users found the iPhone 3G unusably slow with iOS 4 installed. This did improve with further updates, but the experience didn't endear Apple to owners of older devices.

We were braced for severe performance issues, similar to those experience by iPhone 3G-iOS 4 users, when we upgraded our 3rd generation iPod Touch

The iPhone 3G no longer receives software updates, but its successor the iPhone 3GS is still on sale and can be upgraded to iOS 5. We were braced for severe performance issues, similar to those experience by iPhone 3G-iOS 4 users, when we upgraded our 3rd generation iPod Touch to iOS 5. This model has the same processor and 256MB of RAM as the iPhone 3GS. We were therefore pleasantly surprised by the smooth performance of iOS 5 on the iPod Touch, with barely any performance penalty if at all.

Besides all the major changes, there are numerous other smaller refinements in iOS 5. One of our favourites include the ability to look up the definition of a word by tapping and holding a word and then tapping the resulting Define button.

Typing shortcuts can make typing on a touchscreen keyboard much easier.

A useful feature for email and text addicts are the user-definable text shortcuts. A pane in the Settings app lets you set short text snippets which when typed, automatically expand into a longer word, phrase or sentence. For example, you can set the abbreviation ADDY which automatically expands into your name, address, postcode and telephone number every time you type it.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

Even if iOS 5 wasn't filled to the rafters with new and improved features, it's hard to argue against installing it since it's free of charge. For existing iOS owners it's not a question of whether to upgrade, but when to upgrade. This will depend on whether the apps you depend on are compatible with iOS 5 and, if not, when they will be updated and have made their way through Apple's approval process.

However, it's a different story for dedicated users of rival mobile operating systems. Although we think iOS 5 is on balance the best mobile OS currently available, Apple is not budging on its design decisions such as no access to the file system. If you've been dissatisfied with iOS before, there's nothing here to change your mind.

Requires iPhone 3GS or later, iPod Touch 3rd generation or later, any iPad, broadband connection

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