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iOS 5: initial notes

It took me until this morning to get it onto my iPad; Apple's authentication server crumbled under the load of the thundering horde, so I had to wait until America had gone to bed.

Huh. All of a sudden the iPad feels like a real computer. Untethered system updates, ability to configure Airport routers, lots of little tweaks. Albeit a very cloud-y real computer: it really, really wants you to like iCloud.

As it happens, I do like the way Pages syncs with iCloud. If only the desktop OS/X version of Pages had iCloud sync too ...

What is this "Newsstand" thing and how can I get rid of it or banish it to a folder? DO NOT WANT (on my desktop). At least "Game Center" had the good grace to get out of my way.

Background syncing: excellent. Not keen on the speed of syncing over wifi, though, or the effects on battery life — or my phone bill, if it kicks off in the background while I'm connected via my mifi. How to force sync-over-USB is non-obvious. I've got the "Sync with this iPad over wifi" checkbox in iTunes unchecked but it still goes to wifi. I think this may be a bug ... (EDIT: unplugging the USB cable helps resolve this PEBKAC. D'oh!) in the meantime "Back up to iCloud" is switched off (and "Back up to this computer" is on).

Mm. Have just discovered the Settings & General & Storage pane. Excellent! I can delete unwanted files in any given app manually if I need to reclaim space.

Gosh, they really want me to have a Twitter account, don't they? Oh all right, then: go hunt for charlie.stross, or follow @cstross. Won't be anything there for a while, though.

Summary: Feels like going from System 6.0.4 to System 7.0, back in the day. Highly recommended if you've got an iOS device. Once I get the iPad nailed down it will be time to back up my iPhone and upgrade that, too ...

Got any iOS 5 related tips? Feel free to share them here.



Wildly off topic, but I just received the news that Dennis Ritchie has passed away.


It's been a bad week for computing pioneers ...


Indeed so, a bad week. And it'll be a double disappointment for ACCU's Asti Byro. She's attempting over the years to get as many Turing Award winners as possible to the ACCU Autumn Conference at Bletchley Park, and dmr had been awarded one.

(The other reason being that ACCU evolved from the C Users Group UK, and so has a certain fondness for the language even yet.)

On a lighter note, I am somewhat amused that you're following my wife on twitter and not yet me.


You can't put newsstand in a folder because it is a folder. It's the folder into which you are to put all the magazines you buy. If you could delete it, you might forget to buy magazines.

Go forth and spend, what's wrong with you, did you not take the supplied Attitude Supplement Pill?


Charlie, is your iPad a first or a second generation one?

I have a first-gen iPad, and I'm concerned about the performance drop that iOS 5 can have in the older processor...


Charlie, is your iPad a first or a second generation one?



So for I've not noticed a big hit with my first gen iPad, though I've only been using it for light reading since the update.

I ran into an issue upgrading my wife's iPhone 4, the update warns the phone has not been synced with the computer and will wipe it on install. I could probably install it and do a restore, but not something I want to attempt 1/2 hour before she leaves for work. Mind you, this phone and only been synced with the same computer and was synced just a few minutes before attempting to install.


Has anyone updated an iPhone yet? I have a 4, the wife a 3GS. I might get a 4S and give her the 4 if the performance drops off too much on her phone (if the 3GS can even run IOS5, haven't looked it up yet).


My iPhone 4 is in the process of restoring its contents, having successfully installed the iOS 4 update. It's not going to be ready to use for half an hour to an hour, though -- got about 30Gb of contents to reinstall from backup.


Are you saying that you can't have multiple level directory trees?


First rude surprise: Stanza breaks irrevocably (no Stanza developers left at Amazon, so nobody who knows the code to update it).

Second rude surprise: MobileMe conversion currently toast.

Otherwise pretty nice so far.


NANOGers with Akamai clusters in their POPs were reporting a similar-sized traffic surge to a big match during the last World Cup earlier today.


The multitouch gestures are fantastic, really makes multitasking easier.


When the iPad keyboard is up on the screen, place two fingers near the keyboard's center and draw them towards the right and left sides of the screen to part it into a split keyboard. Use the opposite action to return the keyboard to its traditional aspect.


Couple notes from someone running the beta for a while: IIRC, the automatic wifi sync will only happen if it detects your iTunes on the local network (aka not across the internet), and it has to be plugged in.

Give a look at the assistive touch (General->Accessability). Haven't found the right docs on it yet, but it looks really handy. Favorites, gestures, a one-finger way to control the whole thing, shake and all.

Performance is surprisingly good - I've been using the 3GS without any problems. The only thing that sucked is the camera's response - haven't tried it since beta 5, though.


Have been using all the betas and the performance on the first gen iPad is better in my experience than iOS 4. Go upgrade!

@13 Which multitouch gestures? Didn't they remove those? I haven't found them... liked them a lot though.


My iPad 1 is currently in being restored from backup again - for about the 20th time since the upgrade. I finally got the iCloud upgrade, but it appears that I need to upgrade our iPhoto before we can use it on the cloud.

iTunes periodically forgets which photos I selected for synchronization. I killed one of the restores and thought my iPad was working, but every time I plug it in, it starts restoring again. It did forget my settings, and tried to sync everything, which no way fits. There is a setting to tell it to only sync what will fit, but it isn't working yet. Last I checked, the wireless sync didn't work either. (My iPad 1 is the biggest available, but my libraries are much bigger).

Right now my apps space seems to be much bigger than yesterday - I'm figuring there's an error there.

IOS & iTunes upgrades are what Windows users see. When I have upgraded iTunes in Windows, it always broke my iTunes link in the start menu. These upgrades are how Apple sells "it just works" to Windows users. And these upgrades never work right.


I'm not currently home, so haven't had a chance to upgrade my iPod Touch. Should get a chance to do it, and take care of my mother's iPad, tomorrow. I'm not sure how much of a difference it'll make on mine, but I suspect the cordless syncing/backup & upgrades will make it worthwhile (I don't intend to use iCloud or Twitter*, at least not yet). BTW, Apple recommends doing the wifi sync while charging overnight.

I'm pretty happy with my Touch as a replacement for my old laptop. I found a fairly basic word processor app called Doc2 that works well for my uses, a bit slow loading novel length documents, but fine once it has.

I'm wondering how long does the download & upgrade generally take?

*Charlie, I assume it's safe that you won't pull a William Gibson (@GreatDismal) and abandon your blog for Twitter. I admit, I can't make heads or tails of his. Or will it end up like your Facebook page?


The split movable keyboard on iPad with iOS 5 is great. There's no need to hold the iPad from bottom to type anymore -- this has the dual advantages of you not need to change your hand positions if you were holding it from the side, and holding it from the bottom when it was long-side up was a little annoying. Also, the split movable keyboard takes up less space so you can see more of screen, which is helpful not only for seeing information but also for those who like to see the screen when they type.


Newsstand is a PITA. I spent several pointless minutes in wiggle mode chasing my "News" folder around the screen before I figured out that iOS just wasn't going to let me put Newsstand inside it. At least there is a 3 month free trial of the Guardian's new iPad edition available to keep it from being a complete waste of space.

It's worth having a look at Settings->Notification Centre. It allows quite a bit of control over which apps can send notifications and how they appear. You can turn off badging on an app-by-app basis, limit which apps can throw up notifications on your lock screen and how much information is included. The defaults may not be what you want or expect.


Hoary Sheep! There's already a ton o' tweets @cstross, and a rather demented picture of him.

Moving along now.


For those wondering about older hardware, I've been rocking iOS 5 on a two year old 3GS for a week with no noticeable performance drop or bugs.


Correction: searching @cstross comes up with a bunch of "Welcome to Twitter" type messages from the 300+ followers. Using the mobile version doesn't help my confusion.


Thanks for the info Charlie. I've been on the verge of buying an iPad 2 for about a week. I think this will push me into it.


Blog/social networking revamp due; link to FB Fan Page for public status updates, link to Twitter for random URL salad/links of the day, but the blog will remain my main hub and I will be directing new folks towards it, because I do not trust a large and undomesticated corporate elephant to host my pwecioussss content.


My advice would be to hold your fire.

Firstly, there are rumours of an 'ipad lite' showing up early next year; Secondly, the continual gossip about the iPad 3 with retina display and faster processor. Both items are trailed to debut in February next year, 12 months after the iPad 2, which followed the iPad 1 by 12 months.

I think that if you have no existing stake in the platform you should wait until mid-February before diving in. If a new product is announced, either there'll be a price cut or a new high-end model meaning a lot of early adopters upgrading and selling their iPad 2's on eBay.

This assumes you have no overwhelming use case for an iPad right now, of course. If you do, then you needs it when you needs it and that's the end of it.


I found no way to shove Newsstand into a folder either, and I've been looking since the first iOS5 beta. Turns out it's because Newsstand is a folder; any Newsstand-enabled apps have no presence on the device except for in the Newsstand, which is a different model than GameCenter uses. Why that couldn't have been structured like the bookshelves in iBook, I don't know -- maybe it's part of the deal with the content producers, keeping their content from being hid too deeply?

Here's an iOS5/iCloud tip: GoodReader for iPad and iPhone just got updated with iCloud support. The way it works is, there's a new local folder in your content area labeled iCloud. Anything, anything, you put in that folder in one device will then show up on all of them. It's a trivial way to move almost any content "directly" between an iPhone and an iPad.

I'm expecting Pages for MacOS to get iCloud support soon. But what I'm really looking forward to is OmniOutliner (for both iOS and MacOS) getting it.


I've been thinking about getting the iPad 2 as a device for teaching. Thing is, I have a small forest's worth of lecture notes on PowerPoint (which include a lot of audio and video), and everything I've heard suggests they'd be unusable. Does anyone know if this is true? Or know if the new OS makes any difference in this regard, if it was formerly true?



small forest's worth of lecture notes on PowerPoint (which include a lot of audio and video), and everything I've heard suggests they'd be unusable.

Check out QuickOffice. It might be one of your best bets.


There are a couple of office suites -- QuickOffice and Documents to Go -- that can chow down on PowerPoint. And with display mirroring, you should be able to throw them up on a TV or projector.

However, I have zip PowerPoint experience (I think I've used it for maybe six hours in the past 20 years) and no real interest in using it with iOS -- you'll need to find an expert. In particular, I don't know whether QO or D2G can handle audio/video content in PowerPoint.

Apple's own Keynote presentation package can import PowerPoint (at least, the desktop OSX version can: dunno about the iOS version -- I haven't bought it).

If you actually have a Mac I'd say it's a fairly good bet that some combination of Keynote and/or OpenOffice and/or one of the iPad apps would let you do the job you're after. If you're on Windows, I'm less sure how to proceed.


whereas i'm finding big battery drain on a similar setup compared to previously jailbroken iOS 4.3.x


@ Charlie and David: Thanks for the advice folks, which I'll certainly follow up on (my main machine is, indeed, a Mac). More generally, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a solution to this problem. Fair enough, Apple are known for cultivating walled gardens; but actively driving potential customers into an alternative platform just to cultivate a customer base for Keynote is surely a bit daft. Or so I hope, anyway ...


Charlie, since you're on the topic of your iPad, I've been wondering: do you use it for writing on the road? If so, how well does it work as a writing platform?

Apologies if you've addressed this before, of course.

And welcome, at last, to Twitter. I think you'll enjoy it.


If you accidentally set your home/work addresses incorrectly in Reminders (say, by playing about with it when it's brand sparkly new!), there is no way directly in Reminders to change that setting. I found this a hard thing to explain in a charitable fashion, but I did find out how to fix it. The path to do so is this:

Your device's Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Contacts -> My Info. You need to actually be in your own contacts list, which is odd, but an artifact of how Reminders handles location-aware reminders.


It may be a bit laborious, but another approach might be to convert the PowerPoint slides into PDFs and use them like that. Assuming, of course, that you don't have too many special effects built in.

I don't own an iPad (way too expensive for me, I'm afraid), but I saw someone demonstrating an App that allows you to annotate PDFs on the hoof. He very happily uses the PDF/annotating App for his university teaching.


On hiding newsstand: This worked for me:

You have to be very quick--drag the icon onto the other two before the new folder window opens--


David, I've got both "Documents to Go" and "Keynote" on my (original) iPad, plus the VGA cable. If you can throw up a sample somewhere, I can get back to you (out-of-band, unless Charlie's interested) about what works and what doesn't. I have viewed PPT slideshows under both DtoG and Keynote, as well as in the native viewer that Mail/Safari/GoodReader have access to, but I cannot speak to specific advanced audiovisual features without further testing.


@ Stephanos: Unfortunately, the special effects are exactly the problem. Today's complement of fresh-faced young 'uns are very fond of the bright & shiny, and will make their displeasure felt in many oblique ways if lectures aren't enlivened appropriately. This isn't exaggeration: I've compared end-of-course assessments (of me) when I've used multimedia and when I haven't, and the scorings for the former are always higher--despite there being no different in content otherwise. The result is that my presentations are fairly heavily dependent on AV functionality. That said, being able to annotate PDFs would be excellent for entirely different reasons. Any idea what your friend uses for it?

@ dfjdejulio: I think maybe you meant to reply to me instead of David? If so, thanks. The problem is that I've no data repository anywhere in the cloud, and the files in question are large-ish--about 50MB each, or so--making them a problem for email purposes. In any event, still only toying with the idea of an iPad, so I'd as soon not put you to any trouble just to satisfy a whim. I do appreciate it, though!


I'm sorry, but I just don't remember. It was back in July, and I didn't make a note of it at the time.


@paws4thot, iOS does not permit nested folders. It only supported folders at all from v4.0.


I upgraded my laptop to 10.7.2 and the new version of iTunes, which are pre-requisites for an iOS 5 upgrade, overnight, figuring it could take it's own sweet time. That worked fine, so I backed up my iPhone 3GS and upgraded it to iOS 5. That whole process took about 2 hours, all told. As soon as the upgrade was done I tried to start migrating my account to iCloud, but was told that the traffic was too heavy, and to come back later. I guess it'll take a day or 2 more for things to calm down.


There's a hack to put Newsstand in a folder, but if you do it will no longer work, which probably isn't a great loss:

iOS5 came online for me just as I got up yesterday and I stupidly thought it would be a good idea to install it before going to work. Fortunately iTunes falling over, followed by a download error scuppered that plan and I had a couple of minutes of panic when I thought I'd bricked the phone. Took longer than I expected when I tried again that evening.

Upgrade was not clean, but it was mostly niggly annoyances. Reinstalling apps was slow and they weren't returned to their appropriate folders. For some reason it did not restore any of my ringtones and I had to bring them back one at a time. Odd.

Good news for me is that Apple finally fixed the calendar start day they bollocksed up several years back. Also nice to finally have access to change text alerts so I can once again torture people with a sonar ping.


Confirmed that Stanza is b0rked. I'm curently trying Bluefire as a substitute, and have been reminded how poor iBooks is.

I really like the Calendar enhancements, though I'll be sticking with Remember the Milk for now rather than Reminders. The "read later" option in Safari is good too, and I also like the way they've adopted the swipe-down screen for notifications from Android.

Updating was better than expected, not least because I held off until after World+Dog had hammered Apple's servers. Apparently, traffic from the UK to the US topped 1 Terabyte per second...


It sounds like Apple sold something before it was ripe, again.
"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify." Henry David Thoreau


How MFS...


Now that you have a twitter account, perhaps you could automatically generate links to new blog entries?


Documents to Go Great rep. Been around forever. But since they were bought by RIM a year ago I've avoided them. RIM is too big of a mess to trust them right now. Plus what if they decide at some point to drop D2G for all but Playbooks and Blackberrys?

For playing with PDFs it may have been Good Reader. Lets you do all kinds of things.

I have a list of iPad presentation Apps for iPads somewhere. I post it if I find it.


Trick to hide newsstand, haven't tried it yet, but hopefully it works.


It's a very.good update. My favorites are reader pane in safari and split keyboard typing when holding the pad. Did I mention over the air updates, photo stream and that iMessage seem better then SMS?


Some useful iPad apps demoed by Apple in a store.

Penultimate Evernote Dragon dictation Notes plus SyncSpace OmniGraffle Sketchbook Pro Adobe Ideas Fuse meeting


Heh. I was listening to a recent Ruby Rogues podcast, and one of the panelists had worked at Apple some time ago. He said they had (internal) letterhead printed out that said something like "Apple. Where quality is job 1.1.1."


Not a tip, in fact sort of a gotcha, especially if you travel internationally. Data stored by apps oriented towards offline use (reading, maps, etc) may now have their data deleted when space is low on the device. Apple is also implementing a review policy that encourages more data to be stored in this volatile space.

There's a more complete explanation here:

Strikes me as a classic combination of two sensible decisions combine to create a frustrating result.


"being able to annotate PDFs would be excellent for entirely different reasons. Any idea what your friend uses for it?"

I've used GoodReader (£2.99) for annotating PDFs on the iPad, which work quite nicely. On PC, I use PDF-XChange Viewer (free). Both programs can add and edit the usual standard rage of annotations (highlighting, crossing out, replacing, sticky notes etc.) and appear to use a standard format for them, so other programs (e.g. Adobe Reader) can deal with them too.


@ 21 And HOW does one access @cstross?

I think I've got a twitter account - I've used it ONCE, but I can't even remember my log-in/name there. It's excuse me, fucking useless unless you have touchscreen phone (I think) Or am I just a Luddite?


Cheers; this is the advantage of being prepared to ask "b100dy stupid questions".


Cheers Stuart--appreciated. Both look good for what I want to do, and the PC/Mac options cross the work/home divide too.


Surely the simple fix is to export the presentations as PDFs, then display them from the iPad? This will work fine unless you have animated slides, but when did you ever see an animated slide that wasn't dreadful?


I mostly read Twitter on a PC through the web interface at - the phone access is extremely useful for keeping up to date while mobile, but not actually required.

I'd suggest going to that page, and then starting the process of getting your user name by feeding it your email address. Once you've got your ID and password again, you can then search for @cstross, and then actually follow him.

On the other hand, you don't have to follow everyone on every single network. I'm happy to keep the hell out of FB and leave it to the giddy young things of the newer generations.


Well, my roundabout way of getting there was by going to Twitter and searching for @cstross, which came up with a load of welcome messages, apparently followers of fluffcthulhu. I tapped on one of those messages which had @cstross in it, and tapped on that--which took me to Charlie's page.

This should take you straight there:!/cstross

He currently has 712 followers and mentions SEKRITMEDIAPROJECT[1] .

Like I said, I don't really 'get' Twitter, I've never taken the time to figure it out.


That seems to be the problem with Twitter: There really isn't anything to get.

It's almost like the ultimate message-in-a-bottle, everyone just throws stuff out there, sometimes (particularly if you're famous, and therefore your opinion matters more to the masses) you get feedback, mostly whatever you say just floats away.

I was working on another analogy with bathroom wall grafitti, but it just kind of fizzled out and I couldn't make it all hang together.


$SEKRITMEDIAPROJECT[1] involves the BBC and a possible SF series.

$SEKRITMEDIAPROJECT[2] is subject to NDA. (I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you.) I think I am allowed to say that it does not involve the BBC.


Had a partly successful day. Got my Touch upgraded. I had the brilliant idea to try doing it and the mother's iPad at the same time, mine at the desk, and her's on her laptop. But that slowed the download, so I paused the iPad, and let mine finish. That took about an hour, I didn't have any real problems, just a moment of panic when my apps weren't on it. Pulling the plug and replacing it to re-sync worked, and everything is fine.

The iPad is another story. After restarting the download, and waiting an hour and a half, just to get an error message that said I could continue, but it would wipe its memory, I decided to wait and try it another day when I'll be around again.

Looks like lots of new features to learn, so I'll be spending some time going over the new manual. The Touch version doesn't have the Twitter app, so I don't have to bother with that. I don't see why they made Reminders separate from the Calendar, seems they do the same thing. And haven't looked into Messages or the new Safari features yet.

DavetheProc @ 60; My problem with Gibson's Twitter page was having no idea who was responding to what, it all seemed pretty random.

Charlie @61; Oh my! Curioser...etc.


Twitter is usable via text messages, although the practical bandwidth is somewhat lower than using data and a ~4" screen smartphone. This was handy when I was at an airshow with no data available. With Twitter set to only send me texts that mentioned or replied to me, I was able to keep up a multi-national banter with avgeek mates.

BTW, is logging in via twitter going to be available after the upcoming blog update?


Twitter is mostly about conversation, from which in turn emerges community. Simple rules and tight constraints yielding deep, complex behaviours - that kind of thing.

It's also an almost frictionless way to record one's thoughts and observations, for people like me who feel the need to write stuff down all the time.


Twitter works v. well for following news stories in real time, even better than blogs and such; it helps if everybody is sort of looking at the same things. These can be either Very Serious, as with the Arab revolutions where if you followed the right twitter accounts you were ahead of the blogs and news channels, but also less serious, as in making fun of the Apprentice...


Stanza is indeed b0rked by iOS5, a huge loss. The next best thing seems to be Megareader - just enough control over layout to be comparable, plus you can add in Calibre catlogues that live in Dropbox etc.


well updated the iphone 3gs to the new OS , and was struck again, on losing my music, how utterly shit itunes is why can you just drag and drop?


I note that QuickReader -- despite the marketing focus on its speed-reading stuff -- seems to be a competent epub reader and can suck up a Calibre catalogue.


Quickreader seems to be from the same devs as Megareader. Megareader doesn't do bulk imports any way that I can see - you can dl via a Calibre library in Dropbox or directly from Calibre over wifi, but it's only one file at a time. Can you bulk import in Quickreader? The FAQ wasn't conclusive...


That did help, slightly out of date perhaps. The mobile version seems to be a little different, but it's making more sense to me now.


I didn't notice a bulk import facility. (Bulk import isn't one of those features I have a screaming need for, though: I'm content to leave stuff in Calibre until I want to read it, and for a long journey would download maybe 2-3 items.)


"@paws4thot, iOS does not permit nested folders."

To be precise, it doesn't permit nested folders in the UI. The UNIX plumbing allows nested folders, but that's only exposed to app developers behind the scenes, not to the user.


I found that the app switching gestures are a profoundly anti-toddler addition.

Then I found you can turn them off in settings.

Airplane trip saved.


I have tried Kobo reader which is a bit gamified but otherwise competent.

Simplest way to get EPUB files into it is to route them through dropbox.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on October 13, 2011 12:17 PM.

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