iOS 5 Rumor Roundup

Late last night, we reported that iPhone 5 buyers will have to wait until fall to be able to enjoy the new features brought by iOS 5, as the upcoming phone will ‘only’ ship with iOS 4 when released during the summer. But what features will actually come with iOS 5? Here’s everything we’ve heard so far. MobileMe/Cloud Integration MobileMe is expected to become the visible portion of Apple’s soon-to-be-introduced cloud-based services, and should be used extensively by iOS 5, in order to allow iOS users to store in the cloud content such as music files. Additional services such as ‘universal syncing’ are also expected to come with the new iteration of iOS, to allow users to sync – and keep in sync – all their iOS devices directly with Apple’s cloud.

Apple’s data center in North Carolina

Notifications When compared to competing operating systems, iOS’s notifications system looks antiquated at best, and it needs to go. While at this stage, not much is known about how apps running in the background will interact with iOS 5 users, Apple will most likely switch to a model close to the one used in Android and WebOS, with non-intrusive, yet meaningful notifications.

WebOS notifications system – Clean, simple, efficient

Direct integration with OS X Lion (read ‘iTunes not required’) The preview version of Lion – the next iteration of OS X – shows major hints of additional layers of integration with iOS. The OS X Finder may soon be able to connect directly to iOS-powered devices, without having to go through iTunes, as files buried within Lion’s Finder show never-before-seen iPhone, iPad and iPod touch icons, meant to show up in the Finder’s sidebar when an iOS-powered device is connected to a Mac.

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch icons uncovered by macstories

A direct integration between Lion and iOS could potentially allow users to easily transfer files such as documents, or even content, from one machine/device to the other. Also worth noting, Apple may allow iOS-powered devices owners use their device just like a thumb drive. Lock Screen A new set of Android-inspired gestures is currently being experimented by Apple, to allow iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to unlock their device via a graphical pattern, instead of a numeric PIN. With this new graphical pattern unlock, users will be presented a ‘dot grid’, and will be required to correctly connect at least four dots to gain access to their device. Note that the feature is already used by Apple internal apps, such as AppleConnect.

Android-like unlock screen on iOS 4 (AndroidLock, jailbreak only)

The new lock screen might also offer a basic notification feature when a new email/message/IM is received, to help users decide whether they should unlock their device or not, depending on the importance of the message. Multitasking gestures Earlier this month, iOS 4.3 was released to the public, and introduced several new features, such as personal hotspot support, iTunes subscriptions support, a new ultra-fast JavaScript engine, and AirPlay video streaming support for third-party apps, to name a few. One of the most promising capabilities offered by the development versions of iOS 4.3 was a new set of multitasking gestures on the iPad, designed to allow users to quickly switch between active apps, but the capability was disabled in the final version of iOS 4.3, as it was considered a bit too experimental. The feature is built into iOS 4.3, and can easily be enabled using this trick. iOS 5 might offer the feature by default, without having to tweak the device to enable it.

Multitouch gestures on an iPad running iOS 4.3

Ringtones / Text tones / Email tones About four years after the introduction of the first generation iPhone, iOS is still severely crippled when it comes to tones. While Apple eventually allowed iPhone owners to upload their own ringtones to their phones via iTunes, text message tones are limited to sixteen predefined tones, and users cannot even change the ‘new email’ tone used by the phone. As a result, all iOS-powered devices sound exactly the same, and having to find out which device received a new message or a new email when a tone is played is simply painful. iOS 5 is expected to offer more flexibility than its predecessor, and will most likely offer several additional tones, and the ability to change the ‘new email’ tone.

iOS 4 text tones – Limited to 16 predefined choices

FaceTime over 3G (or 4G) We’re not sure why Apple (or at&t?) decided to disable FaceTime over 3G, as FaceTime works fairly well when used via a 3G access point such as the MiFi series of WiFi/3G bridges. The next generation of iOS might allow users to actually use FaceTime over any network, and might even integrate with at&t’s and Verizon’s own video sharing services.