Now that iOS 5 is finally here, are you impressed?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: October 12, 2011

Happy iOS 5 day, folks! (I know, I'm a little late to the party.)

Apple announced their major update, iOS 5, back in June at WWDC, along with several of the 200 plus improvements it brings. Last week at their keynote, Apple announced that the update would officially hit on October 12. The update went live shortly after 12 PM (Eastern) today and is now available to all iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch, iPad and iPad 2 owners via iTunes.

I've had iOS 5 on my iPhone 4 since the first beta released, so I've been digging into the software for some time now. I haven't upgraded to the official release just yet – I've been a bit busy and there were some issues with Apple servers earlier today. So I decided to ride out the rest of the week on the Gold Master version, and I'll update to the official release sometime over the weekend.

Despite not updating just yet, I've had plenty of time to tinker with some of the new features of iOS 5 and have sorted out the ones I like and found many things that I either never use or sorely despise.

The biggest upgrade in iOS 5 for many is the overhauled notification system. I'm going to begin by saying that despite Apple's attempt to improve this area, it's not much better than it was before – they fixed some areas while they made others worse. Sure, having a growl-like notification at the top of your display when something comes in is a little better than a pop-up in the middle of the screen, but at least I could dismiss that right away. There's no quick way to get rid of the preview, and if you're a power user who constantly gets notifications, that portion of your display is almost always taken up. It wouldn't be as big of a problem if the "Back" button in a majority of iOS applications wasn't an on-screen button at the top left corner of the display. But it is and when there is a notification, it's mostly covered up by said notification for several seconds at a time.

On top of that, Notification Center is pointless. (Do I sound a little ranty? Because I'm feeling a little ranty.) It doesn't coincide with any of the other notifications in the entire operating system, and without sliding the shade down (don't get me started on how it's a direct copy of Android's notifications, and how Apple looks down upon others copying), you can't see a coherent, unified display of your notifications. With badges on individual applications instead of a unified area (think BlackBerry or Android's status bar), I'm never encouraged to check the shade, but instead feel that I should check each application separately. It wouldn't be so bad if it was more dynamic or user-definable with more widgets or even toggles (if they're going to rip ideas off people, might as well go the whole nine yards).

As subtle as it is, my favorite feature in iOS 5 is the quick access feature to the camera. When the phone is locked, you can access the camera through the lock screen by double-tapping the home button, rather than unlocking the phone and fumbling around to find the Camera icon. As much as I take pictures, I use this feature more than anything else and it speeds up the process quite a bit. Also, you can now snap a picture by clicking the volume up button in the Camera app. Face it, tapping a display to take a picture was never a good idea or very comfortable.

Coming in at a close second to quick camera access is Twitter integration. If any of you follow me on Twitter (if you don't, you should), you likely know that I tweet a lot. And I tweet a lot of pointless pictures. Being able to take a picture and tweet it right away, rather than having to switch to my Twitter application, is extremely convenient.

iMessage is Apple's rebuttal to Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry Messenger and the million other instant messaging services around. It's a proprietary instant messaging service that allows you to chat with your friends around the world for no extra charge – only if they have an iDevice, of course. Genius, right? Well, it's nothing revolutionary or mind-boggling, and although I've only been using beta builds of it, it seems unfinished to me. There is no way to definitely toggle iMessage or text messaging per conversation, meaning it might be easy to accidentally text an international friend instead of iMessage them. When iMessage is enabled, it is used by default, but I have had it switch intermittently between iMessage and text. Hopefully this has been addressed in the official release.

A lot of the updates in iOS 5 were specific to the iPad, like multitasking gestures, a split keyboard and a redesigned music app. I did use my iPad (before I sold it) on an iOS 5 beta for a while, and the split keyboard was a dream. The gestures were nice to have, especially the swipe up for the multitasking bar. But pinching four or five fingers was a bit excessive just to exit to the home screen.

These are only a few of the features that have stuck out the most to me. Even after several months with the update, I've only scratched the surface. And there are some other major features that I'm not even interested in using at all like iCloud, built-in photo editing, Wi-Fi Sync with iTunes and many more. Overall, I've been fairly pleased with iOS 5. But there are just some features like Notification Center that just don't sit well with me at all.

So tell me, readers. Have you upgraded your iDevice to iOS 5 yet? What do you think so far and what are you favorite features? Are there any features that you don't like? Sound off below, and share your likes and dislikes!