updated 01:10 pm EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
Apple posts iOS 5 on cue
In keeping with its usual preference for a 1PM Eastern update, Apple has posted iOS 5. The update is available when the device is plugged in through iTunes and users check for a new version. It should be the last version Apple releases that is available solely though a computer and can't arrive through the device itself.
Among other updates, iOS 5 is the first "PC-free" update from Apple and lets users update over the air instead of through an iTunes sync. At least minor updates should arrive as delta updates that only reflect the changes and download much faster. Wi-Fi syncing saves those who do have iTunes libraries from having to plug in.
The 5.0 revamp is one of Apple's largest yet for its mobile platform outside of this, adding an Android-style notification tray and direct shortcuts to apps with notifications from the lock screen. iMessage brings Apple a BlackBerry Messenger-style instant messaging platform that works across all iOS 5 devices. The camera app is now both quicker to access and has more advanced pre- and post-shot editing features, and Twitter sign-ons are now built into the OS itself and let users post updates without having to first turn to the app.
More improvements bring Newsstand, an area for optimized magazine and newspaper apps that can automatically download in the background. Reminders let users set notices that can be cued by location. Reader and Reading List make their way from the desktop Safari browser to mobile, and the iPad version of Safari now has tabs.
Some features are hardware-specific: AirPlay Mirroring for wireless video out is limited to the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, and only the iPhone 4S currently gets Siri voice commands.