TechWeb

10 Innovative iOS 5 Apps

Oct 26, 2011 (09:10 AM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=231901705


Apple's latest release of its mobile operating system, iOS 5, contains more than 200 new features and 1,500 new APIs. It will allow iOS developers to create apps that perform functions that were previously more difficult or not possible on Apple hardware.

iOS 5 improves push notifications and adds the ability to write code that interfaces with iCloud and Twitter. It provides an expanded image manipulation tool set, which will help camera apps like Instagram, and it provides access to speeder graphics routines, which will help game developers, among others.

The developer that has made the best use of new iOS 5 capabilities is of course Apple. That's understandable, given that the company's software engineers created the new features and APIs and had access to the code before anyone else.

But third-party developers have been working with the iOS 5 beta release for several months and many have gone beyond merely testing their apps for iOS 5 compatibility and have taken advantage of what iOS 5 can do.

There are still limits to the ways in which third-party apps can access iOS 5 and iPhone hardware: Apple's new Siri voice assistant, for example, doesn't have any public APIs, at least at the moment. But for the most part, iOS 5 opens new doors for developers.

We've assembled a few of the apps that explore this new territory for your consideration. A number of them hail from Apple, but there are already some third-party developers using iOS 5 to push the envelope.




When you don't really care, send an email; when you care a bit more, try Cards. Ante up $2.99 and send an attractive letterpress card from your iPhone to anyone in the U.S. For $4.99, you can mail outside the U.S.

While Cards doesn't really take advantage of iOS 5 beyond its camera integration and use of notifications, it's a convenient way to generate snail mail, not to mention a potential gold mine for Apple.

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Ignore for a moment the garish stitched-leather UI. Ignore the creepy aspect of tracking people. Apple has made a nifty little app called Find My Friends for following your iPhone-toting kin or friends around. The app includes Parental Restrictions and Privacy Settings, the next best thing to avoiding the Orwellian world of friend tracking entirely. Find My Friends makes good use of iOS 5 notifications. No more calling your friends at the mall to find out where they went.

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Apple's Reminders app, which comes installed on the iPhone 4S, won't replace more full-featured reminder apps ... or so developers of those apps probably hope. But it's free and it accepts voice input from Apple's Siri virtual assistant or directly through the keyboard via the microphone icon.

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Apple has shipped a new version of its Safari mobile browser (5.1) with iOS 5. It offers better HTML5 support than other mobile browsers at the moment. And it introduces the ability to save Web pages to a Reading List, so the articles can be read offline later. But most significantly, mobile Safari 5.1 is about twice as fast as its iOS 4 incarnation, Safari 5.0.

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Keynote 1.5, Numbers 1.5, and Pages 1.5--collectively, the iWork suite in mobile app form--have been revised to take advantage of iOS 5. They can save and sync documents to Apple's iCloud, which mitigates (but doesn't completely eliminate) the frustration of file management on iOS devices. Keynote can stream presentations to an Apple TV via AirPlay. And Pages adds support for voice input.

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Using iOS 5 and AirPlay, gamers playing Real Racing 2 or Real Racing 2 HD can watch multiplayer games in split-screen mode on a nearby Apple TV. Those playing on an iPhone 4S can also enjoy real-time dynamic shadows and specular lighting on car interiors, thanks to the 4S' better processor and iOS 5's improved graphics capabilities.

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Springpad is a handy organizer that allows you to create notes, tasks, and checklists, to capture barcodes, and to generally be more organized. The latest version, 2.6.0, makes use of the iOS 5 notification center with reminders and send-to-phone prompts. It's worth a look, assuming digital organization doesn't seem like an act of futility.

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Foursqaure, the social location and rewards service, describes the latest iteration of its iOS app as "a huge step in the evolution of the foursquare vision." It includes a feature called Radar, which utilizes iOS 5 to alert you to nearby friends and activities. It does so passively, even when the app isn't open, so you don't have to search.

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If you're looking for an offline reading app that does more than Safari's Reading List, or if you just want to register a pocketbook vote against companies that compete with their developers, buy a copy of Instapaper. The app's use of iOS 5 is modest--hardware brightness control and the option to use Apple's dictionary--but there's lots of other good stuff in the 4.0 update.

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A top-notch turn-by-turn navigation app, MotionX GPS Drive takes advantage of iOS 5's Twitter integration, iCloud backups, and voice APIs. It's a bit disconcerting having to pay periodically for voice guidance but it's probably more affordable than a dedicated turn-by-turn navigation system.

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