Apple (news, site) unveiled the headline features of the new iOS 5 today with developers getting their hands on it now, users can enjoy it in the Fall.

Device-Friendly Updates

There was no new hardware on show today from Apple at the WWDC event, nor a major overhaul of the iOS interface. But, the major relief for all existing iPhone users, is that you will be able to activate and update your phone or iPad directly from the device, no Mac/PC required.

New updates also mean only downloading the new code, not the whole OS, shortening the process somewhat. iOS 5 will be compatible with iPhone 3GS mobiles and above, iPads and iPod touch (neatly killing a rumor that was scaring old iPhone users last week, oops!)

There are over 200 new features in the update and Apple demonstrated 10 of them. Developers get access to them today, the update will launch in the Fall. Among the headline acts was the much mooted integration of Twitter into the OS, so now you can take a photo and send it directly to your army of followers, along with links and other content.

Get the Message

iMessage is Apple's shot at a unified communications app, offering a way to communicate regardless of where friends are, what app they're on etc. Your text, photo and video messages are synched to all your account-linked devices so you can carry on a conversation started on your phone back on your computer or iPad at home and are similarly sent to your friend whatever they're on.

Learning Opportunities


iMessage makes staying in touch less hassle

On the fun side, Game Center can now handle turn-based games, allowing for live remote games of Chess, Scrabble and other diversions. While the social side of the games app just got a lot more active with a wider way to make and play against friends from with the app, and buy new games.

Other improvements include better notifications, more secure email and, of course, there is all the added cloud integration with iCloud (see our sister article for more on that).

Ultimately though, the iOS interface is starting to look rather jaded in the face of the Windows 8 threat, and all these additions around the edges aren't helping its rigid, corseted look. Will Apple keep all its icons in fixed little rows in the next iteration? We're not sure it can afford to given the pace of development in the tablet/smartphone world.