Commentary

Five on Five: First Impressions of Apple's New iOS

AppleAccording to some reports and my own experience trying to update various devices here at the Smith Family Test Lab (a.k.a. my living room) Apple’s servers got slammed with iOS users upgrading to version 5 of the operating system for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. Some features like the Newsstand Store only came on later in the day for my devices, and wireless software updates (also new in this version) were inaccessible until later in the day.  Some of my devices had already been upgraded last week with the iOS5 gold master that had been sent to developers.

After a week of playing with iOS 5 on iPhone and iPad, the changes that were at first subtle have grown to seem more significant for media and marketers.

 

  1. Integrated Twitter. I start from a low bar here, but as the worst Twitter user in the history of Twitter, even I can see myself using the microblog more now that it is effortless. The integration of Twitter in the iPhone and iPad basic apps, including Safari, has got to be great news for Twitter and for the social exchange of any media. I can imagine publishers who endeavor to make iPad-friendly sites going out of their way to prompt Tweeting.
  2. Safari Reader and Reading List:  Advertisers may hate Safari’s new ability to extract text and relevant images from pages while leaving the ads behind. As a consumer and voracious researcher, I find this superb. A reader button in the address bar lets you convert the cluttered Web page into straight text and relevant image, and it is perfect for printing. The Reading List saves specific articles in the iCloud so they are accessible across browsers. If only this idea caught on with other browsers, publishers and marketers would have to start thinking about how they can get their ad messages into this screen.
  3. Geo-located Reminders: I admit I am still trying to figure out how flexible these geo-fenced alerts can be. For me they have been the most inscrutable feature in iOS 5. But in theory they let you set alarms for yourself targeted to a reminder that will ping you when you leave or enter a zone. Apple is getting users accustomed to the process of geo-fencing in ways that may benefit marketers in the long term. Whether through third party integration with the Reminder system (which would be incredibly powerful) or just third party geo-fencing already in place, this could be the start of something big.
  4. The Notification Center:  Here is where iOS really is just playing catchup with Android, but now alerts are less intrusive and accessible from a pull-down on any screen. The real upside for media and marketers is that the less intrusive and more flexible system is already making me more willing to allow apps to send me notifications. In the past I regarded these prompts in new apps with the same wariness I did of SMS sign-ups.
  5. AirPlay Mirror: Only available to those with an iPad 2 and an Apple TV, this lets you mirror whatever is on your Ipad 2 on your TV. There are limitations. We already discovered that HBO Go for instance will not run through Mirroring so we imagine other TV everywhere apps can cut themselves off from the feature. It seems to require a fair amount of home WiFi bandwidth, however, so we had some jagged performance when playing games on the big screen. As a two-screen combo in which the iPad is used as a controller or map and the gameplay occurs on the TV, this would be a serious challenger to console gaming in the living room.

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Our first take on iOS 5: While not revelatory at first glance, the opportunities for marketers to slip into these neater integrations of features will be clearer over time.

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