I've had iOS 5 in my hands on my iPhone for just shy of 24 hours.
What's it like?
Well, it's nice. The biggest things I've appreciated so far are the new notification mechanism, the reminder app and the upgraded bluetooth support. It also feels like the keyboard is more responsive and I get less key misses typing on it. It almost feels like it's slightly predictive, but it could just be my imagination.
The new twitter integration seems pretty nifty, I might use that, I did on my old phone here and there.
The upgraded bluetooth support allows my car stereo to display track information and repeat status on it's LCD screen. It's a nice add that allows me to see what random track is playing now my iPhone decided to grab a huge random chunk of my library when I last synced, somewhat to my surprise, and a bit to my dismay. I probably should have checked the settings a bit more carefully!
The notification mechanism is a really good upgrade. The pull down is easy to use, and with weather right there, I think they made it excellent. Stock ticker is probably nice for some, but a bit gimmicky for most I'd imagine.
The reminder app is something I was looking forward too, and it did not disappoint. I set up a reminder to tell me to go pick up packing supplies when I had dropped my daughter off at school. It was easy to set up a location based notification, figured it out in a few moments. The one thing that I couldn't see was how to trigger a notification based on an arbitrary address. It seemed like you could only do it based on addresses in your contact list. That was a bit annoying. Had to add the local school to my list to make it work.
The news-stand app looks like it could be cool, but the two publications I looked at had a 'free' news-stand presence, but required a subscription to get any good content. I don't mind paying a few bucks up front, but an ongoing subscription for more than the print edition per month, that's asking a bit much.
Instant on camera is awesome, but my current case somehow managed to get built without a camera hole. I did have another case, and although it had a camera hole, it lacked any other good features save the colour, so I switched back. Once I get a better case, I'll probably use it often.
One big thing that still feels missing, or it's there and I haven't figured it out, is the ability to suck in a phone number or an address from Safari. If I highlight an address or phone number, It should give me the ability to create a new contact. It does give me the ability to call the number, but if it can do that, why can't I create a contact from that location?
I'm not sure, but it also felt like it was chowing down on my battery a bit much, though that could be more because I was using the wifi hotspot for a bit last night, and that always takes a pretty good toll.
I didn't notice yet, but in iOS 4, switching between messaging and phone was pretty annoying. I hope they made that a bit smoother. The number of times I want to call someone who I've just been messaging is pretty high, and I don't know why it's not easier to do so. Either that or I'm just missing it.
iPhone 4S? Well, if I was in the market for a new phone, there's no question I'd get it. But at $700 new, I think I'll have to wait for iPhone 5, or until my contract lets me get a new phone as part of the deal. I'd get it just for the upgraded camera to be honest, but for $700, that would have to be a damn fancy camera.
Overall, iOS 5 has not disappointed. Features are easy to see, intuitive, no manual required. Apple has again delivered us a piece of technology that is beautiful and functional. Features we can use, and aren't so hard to work with, we get frustrated ten seconds after pulling out the phone. When I think back to my LG touch-screen phone, the iPhone is a world apart. It costs me three times more per month, but I wouldn't switch back unless I had no other choice.