iOS 5 is here! Geofencing, new Voices in Voice Command/Siri, and Notification Center for all!

We all know how heartfelt iOS makes you seem (Cards), how much control it gives you for managing your network (Airport Utility), and how it will easily turn you into a stalker (Find Your Friends), but what about all the day-in and day-out things that truely make the upgrade process worth it?

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  • 6
    Isn't this a subjective question? – Pitto Oct 15 '11 at 12:28
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    -1 this is not a question that has an answer. It's more of a promotion stunt. apple.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask – Philippe Oct 15 '11 at 16:06
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    @Philippe the occasional fun question/promotional stunt is OK. this question is for all those little things you'd never know even to ask about in iOS 5 – Kyle Cronin Oct 15 '11 at 16:30
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    +1, useful question! And just what CW is for, in my opinion. – Jonik Oct 15 '11 at 17:30
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    I find these "threads" extremely useful! Most of the time I pick up at least a couple of new things. – user10355 Oct 15 '11 at 21:35

57 Answers 57


Usage shows how much space each app is using

Settings -> General -> Usage

iOS 5 now collects the space used by apps and the data in the app - sorted by the largest size. If you need to free up some space quickly, this is a great way to easily identify and remove the largest burdens on your storage space.

Of specific tiny note, the edit button in the top right allows you to delete selective content from apps like Music.

  • This was clearly inspired by Android, but it looks much nicer on the iOS. – Bora Oct 18 '11 at 9:07
  • @Bora: true for many iOS 5 features. – Dan Oct 19 '11 at 16:24
  • @DanAbramov, and true vica-versa. – Hand-E-Food Oct 19 '11 at 22:02

Retractable Keyboard in Messages.app

The neat way that you can scroll down on iMessages and it pulls the keyboard down with your finger.

  • Oh WOW. That is awesome! I hadn't even been in a position to use that yet! Great obvious addition you'll see as soon as you have to review a previous message in the conversation. Very neat! – Jason Salaz Oct 15 '11 at 23:04
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    This. As small as it seems, I desperately wanted this feature. Big help when your best friend sends you 1500-word rants via text message. :) – Dan J Oct 16 '11 at 11:57

Undo Close Tab

In Safari on the iPad, tap and hold the [+] button to display a list of recently closed tabs instead of creating a new empty tab.

  • Why isn't that a majorly advertised feature? I haven't wanted this ever since ever. – Jonathan. Oct 17 '11 at 18:28
  • Doesn't appear to work on iPhone, FWIW – BradC Oct 18 '11 at 16:13
  • This is a long awaited feature! Can't wait for this to be available on the iPhone also. – bouke Oct 19 '11 at 11:09
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    You just made my day. – Steven Fisher Feb 4 '12 at 20:21
  • :-o This is awesome. – Anirudh Ramanathan Mar 22 '13 at 15:26

Keyboard shortcuts

I wanted this for a long time.

  • I've wanted those as well, but I was disappointed that you can't have shortcuts for multiline text. On the Mac, I have shortcuts for valedictions. Having that would save a lot of time on the iPhone. – Kiezpro Oct 17 '11 at 21:12
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    I wonder if \n works ;) (I'll save you 2 mins, it doesn't) – ocodo Oct 18 '11 at 0:11
  • What about \r? (I am being facetious.) – Jason Salaz Oct 18 '11 at 5:17
  • Unfortunately, none of these work. Maybe in iOS 5.0.1... – Kiezpro Oct 18 '11 at 21:48
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    I have a shortcut that is my e-mail address. This makes logging in to websites a lot easier, particularly since I have underscores in my e-mail address. – Hand-E-Food Nov 23 '11 at 4:21

12 Hour, Hour-by-Hour forecast

When viewing Weather.app, simply tapping on the screen/6 day forecast will slide the days downward, and reveal a 12 hour, hour-by-hour forecast!

Note also that "Hourly" illuminates underneath the city name when in this mode.


Swipe Camera to view Photo Roll

When Camera.app is open, and you want to quickly view your previously taken photos instead, don't hit the photo button in the bottom left, simply swipe the screen from left-to-right and you will go in descending date-taken order through your Camera Roll.

Note that you cannot do this if your phone is locked and you used the 'quick camera' method, except for photos taken in that session.

This screenshot was taken mid-swipe (which is rather difficult to do). Note the Camera.app interface on the right half, and a familiar partial screenshot on the left.

  • It's probably worth noting that Windows Phone is probably responsible for this (having done it first) as well as the physical button camera shutter. Competition at work :) – alirobe Oct 16 '11 at 4:27
  • I wonder if Camera+ predates the release of Windows Phone? I honestly can't put a suitable timeline in my head at the moment. – Jason Salaz Oct 16 '11 at 18:11
  • Camera.ipa n'est-ce pas? – John Ferguson Oct 17 '11 at 22:29
  • I don't entirely understand the question. – Jason Salaz Oct 17 '11 at 22:53
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    @VxJasonxV probably a good idea to change the screenshot to something that doesn't look like an app switching swipe... :) – ocodo Mar 24 '12 at 0:16

Read those long song titles and artist/album names

You can tap and hold on a song/podcast title to get a pop-up of the entire description.

  • I don't understand this feature. It only shows information that's already visible in the list. Strange. Of its unfinished, doubly strange. – user10355 Oct 18 '11 at 5:33
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    @cksum: Well kind of. You can see the title of the song was truncated so the popup shows all the song info. – styfle Oct 18 '11 at 6:20
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    Moreover, it now also shows the full title when displaying the currently playing song's cover art using a marquee. It used to chop it off if it was too long before, making it especially useless for podcasts and audiobook with numbers at the end of the title. Have been complaining about that since iPhoneOS 1.0 – Daniel Schneller Oct 18 '11 at 6:38
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    Now if this could only be implemented in the iTunes app. So many podcasts prefix the title of the episode with the podcast name and you can't ever tell what the contents of that episode is. – jessegavin Oct 19 '11 at 16:23

Good Vibrations

Custom vibration patterns! (Turn them on in Accessibility; tap them out in Sounds; set them by contact in Contacts).


  • That's very very cool. – ocodo Oct 18 '11 at 0:17

Maps.app now features alternate routes

When getting directions that encompass a long distance that may have multiple highway routes, you will be able to choose 'Route 1' or 'Route 2' after searching the addresses, and before hitting start. Tapping on the 'Route 1'/'Route 2' tooltips will change the color for that route (light blue/dark blue) and also update the estimated distance and time in the header bar.

  • But does it have voice directions yet? That's the big thing that keeps my wife from using her phone as a navigator. Seems like it would be a natural fit with Siri... – Toji Oct 17 '11 at 21:47

Alternative Shutter Button

I love that you can use the volume up button to take a photo. This is great in landscape mode.

Also if you are using Apple's headphone or any headphone that compatible with iOS, using the volume + button from the headphone also can take a photo for you, this is great for remote shutter !

  • You beat me 5 seconds. – Dan Oct 17 '11 at 20:56
  • This is the first thing that struck me when I got my iPhone. It's hard to keep it still when tapping the screen. – DisgruntledGoat Oct 24 '11 at 11:05

Split keyboard on the iPad

Just pull the keyboard apart with your thumbs. The Hide Keyboard button (bottom right) can now be used to reposition the split keyboard on the screen. It takes some getting used to but it can be handy for typing whilst holding the iPad in your hands.

enter image description here

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    It also "undocks", press and hold the keyboard button. – ocodo Oct 17 '11 at 2:59
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    Huh. I never even thought to pull apart the keyboard, I always just used the retraction icon and the "grips" that were added to it. But need that you can just expand it apart! – Jason Salaz Oct 17 '11 at 5:49
  • Yay typos. But neat*, that you can just expand it apart. – Jason Salaz Oct 17 '11 at 16:50
  • I love the animation of it. – abc905 Nov 7 '11 at 12:11

Draggable Recipients

You can drag and drop recipients between To, Cc and Bcc in Mail app.

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    I appreciate the hand contortion or outside assistance it must have required for you to be able to take this screenshot. – 75th Trombone Oct 20 '11 at 4:26

Swipe Individual Notifications

My favorite mini-feature yet: you can swipe any notification on the lock screen.
This will remove the lock and proceed to the relevant app.

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    This one is so good and intuitive, I didn't even THINK about mentioning this was new. – Jason Salaz Oct 19 '11 at 16:32
  • By hold you mean lock, correct? – Josh Newman Oct 19 '11 at 23:17
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    @Josh: yeah. Don't know what's wrong with me.. – Dan Oct 19 '11 at 23:24

Third Party Audio Apps Can Publish Song Data to Lock Screen / Multitasking Bar

In previous versions of iOS, the lock screen and multitasking bar would simply show the app name that's playing music. But now, if supported in the app/implemented by the developer, full Artist, Album, and Title information can be shown instead.

Note the non-Music.app icon in the multitasking bar.

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    +1 because (a) I wish my Android phone had a better OEM lock screen and (b) Skrillex – Matt Ball Oct 15 '11 at 19:23
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    I'm looking forward to Spotify implementing this :) – Espen Herseth Halvorsen Oct 15 '11 at 22:35
  • I saw Soundcloud doing that in iOS 4. – Max Yankov Oct 17 '11 at 13:09
  • I'm fairly certain you didn't. Apps previously had no way to be able to do that. Because apps couldn't "change their name" in order to show something different in the multitasking bar / lock screen. There was no SDK mechanism like there is now to publish this data. – Jason Salaz Oct 17 '11 at 16:46
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    Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. The icon of the currently playing application is not new, that's been around since the multitasking bar existed (iOS 4); the name of the song is the part that is new. – Jason Salaz Oct 19 '11 at 16:35


Word definitions from text selections.

  • It's not just text editing apps. It also works on most apps that display text and let you select it such as Safari or the web browser component. – Senseful Oct 17 '11 at 3:00
  • I've updated the answer to put this more clearly, I hurried to get the thing posted with the pics and didn't think about wording properly. – ocodo Oct 17 '11 at 3:14
  • How does this work? I mean, how can I get those "definitions"? – Martin Oct 20 '11 at 16:52
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    Just tap the right arrow on the copy | cut selected text menu, and there's the define option, or tap left to go back. – ocodo Oct 21 '11 at 1:20
  • It does not work for me. I get the "copy|cut" button, but there are no arrows. iPhone 4, iOS 5, German. – Martin Oct 21 '11 at 7:03

Current Volume Reminder

Switching the phone from Silent mode back to normal now displays the current ringer volume.


6 day forecast in Weather Widget for Notification Center

When in the Notification Center drawer, you can swipe the Current Weather widget in either direction to switch between Current Local Conditions, to the same 6 day forecast you would see in Weather.app. Saves a ton of time!

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    There is no reason for Hanging with Friends to be abbreviated in such a manner... thanks Zynga :/. – Jason Salaz Oct 15 '11 at 7:42

MobileSafari, Mobile Reader

The Reader button in Mobile Safari address bar.

It displays a page not entirely suited for mobile in an easy to read, black-and-white format. It removes all of the extraneous information and focuses on the body text.

EDIT: Something new I noticed recently, if the article has a link such as "Continued on page 2...", the Reader will automatically load the additional pages, allowing you to scroll through the entire article without leaving the Reader.

  • I was so happy when I saw this. – Dan Oct 17 '11 at 20:54
  • I remember seeing this as a feature for normal Safari and thinking, meh. But on the iPhone this feature is gold! – styfle Oct 18 '11 at 6:18
  • Is this only available on the iPhone 4S? I don't see it on my iPhone 4. Do I have to enable it somehow? – jessegavin Oct 19 '11 at 16:26
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    @jessegavin, I have an iPhone 4. It seems to only appear on certain pages, usually those with a single article. It doesn't appear if you have a string of blog entries (multiple articles) or a forum listing. Also you have to wait for the whole page to load first. Try a news site so you can see it in action. – Hand-E-Food Oct 19 '11 at 22:08
  • @jesse, It is up to the website developer to β€œmark” content as an article. Most news websites and blogs already do this, but not all. – Dan Oct 30 '11 at 22:27

Additional Data in Calendar when Rotated

Calendar.app when the iPhone is rotated in landscape mode displays a week mode.

Horizontal scroll iterates through days.
Vertical scroll iterates through hours.

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    WHOA! I have never seen anyone mention this feature before. This is extremely useful for the first couple weeks of each quarter when I need to see my classes for the week. – styfle Oct 18 '11 at 6:24

Ability to edit the colours of Exchange calendars

Finally, I can make the colours of each Exchange calendar consistent, without needing to buy a Mac, to use iCal!

To change the colours:

  1. Click on the Calendars button
  2. Click on Edit
  3. Click on the ">" button next to a calendar
  4. Pick the Colour of your choice...

iPad calendar colour-selection dialog

A nice extra touch is that if you use a 3rd-party calendar app, such as Informant HD, the same colours are used there too.

  • I was excited to see my colors change since I use Google Sync. Now I'm really excited I can change them on the phone itself :D – styfle Oct 18 '11 at 6:14
  • OK, I did NOT know that. :D – jrg Oct 18 '11 at 11:55

Emoji for everybody!

Emoji is now a keyboard that can be used by anybody, where prior to iOS 5 it would only be enabled by the use of a Softbank (Japanese Cell Phone Carrier) SIM card in your device, or via special tricks that certain applications would perform.

Enable it by going into Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> International Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard, then scroll about 1/3rd of the way down and tap 'Emoji'.

Emoji are cute little detailed picture icons. These icons can only generally be seen on Apple computers, iPhone users, or most Japanese Cell Phones (albeit they will look quite a bit different on those).


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    There's a special easter egg for users viewing this answer in Safari, or on an iOS device, only. Chrome users (like myself, unfortunately) cannot see it. – Jason Salaz Oct 15 '11 at 7:42
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    Perhaps you meant Safari users on Lion. On Safari on SL, I see only the boxes (as with Chrome) – Nivas Oct 15 '11 at 12:59
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    @GEdgar why would you want to email a Windows user anyway?! :P – hairboat Oct 15 '11 at 21:58
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    E-mailing you at Stack Exchange would mean e-mailing a Windows user :(. – Jason Salaz Oct 16 '11 at 5:07
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    This is 100% true, but the fact that you can input them easily on an iPhone is relatively special :). I mean, I've been entering Unicode on a phone since my Sidekick 2, but this method is 1098530974298712x easier. – Jason Salaz Oct 17 '11 at 22:51

Double tapping the home button on the lock screen shows you both media controls, and a camera icon to the right of the unlock swiping track. Not only is the Camera available from the lock screen, but as soon as you push the home button, it whisks you right back to the lock screen. So nobody can get into your iPhone without unlocking it.

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    I'm not sure what you mean. If the phone is locked, and you tap the camera button it opens up the camera app. But if you then click the home button is takes you to the home screen, not the lock screen – ideasasylum Oct 20 '11 at 11:10
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    @hopeless That happens to me too, but I think it's a bug. Or maybe it depends on whether you have a pass code set. – benzado Oct 20 '11 at 15:33
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    Pressing the home button takes you to the lock screen with the pin input panel raised if you have a passcode set. – Jason Salaz Nov 8 '11 at 6:54

More convenient "Find On Page" searching

I just noticed that when you're in Safari, and you click in the Search box at the top-right, the keyboard has a new "Find on Page" box, that is much more convenient than the old iOS 4 way of searching.

enter image description here

Edit: 20/10/2011

The Pad Gadget page iPad Quick Tip – Find Text and Keywords in Mobile Safari shows a screenshot from the iOS 4 days. Notice how the "On this page" bit appears after it's searched the Web. My point is that the iOS 5 way is more obvious, and more convenient.

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    iPad-only, unfortunately. – jwaddell Oct 17 '11 at 3:46
  • I don't like how you only get this after tapping the search box, however. It makes sense considering the way to do it before, but it doesn't generally make sense. Well, maybe. Different kinds of search :/. – Jason Salaz Oct 17 '11 at 5:52
  • I didn't even know the old Safari had in-page search. This is pretty cool.. – Paperjam Oct 18 '11 at 20:04
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    This isn't iPad-only; you have to start typing text before "Find in Page (n matches)" will show in the bottom of the results. – Steve Shaner Oct 19 '11 at 22:02
  • @SteveShaner - That was there before iOS5. – ocodo Oct 20 '11 at 3:12

Mass Mark as Read/Unread/Flag

You can now mark multiple emails as Read/Unread from the edit mode in Mail without having to open each message.

  • Ignore iCloud, this and the hole + in iPad safari for recently closed tabs, is way more worth the upgrade process. – Jonathan. Oct 18 '11 at 18:38
  • @djacobson - Please expand on how this is done. – ocodo Mar 24 '12 at 0:17

Ringtones (can) Serve Double Duty as Notification Tones

Ringtones that are less than 15 seconds will also show up in the the various other notification types.

New (SMS) Message, Calendar Alerts, Tweet Sent, etc. They can even be defined as the SMS tone for a specific contact in your Address Book.


Rename Your iOS Device

I can change my iPod's name without using a computer.

Silly I know, but I can.

Settings.app > General > About > Name

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    PC-Free is the way to be. Cut the Cord! – Jason Salaz Oct 15 '11 at 16:31
  • @VxJasonxV Got that right! Side note: I haven't changed my iPod's name back yet. ;) – jrg Oct 15 '11 at 16:33
  • @VxJasonxV: Is that a reference to the old commercials that use to say "Drug-free is the way to be" or did I just have a weird deja-vu moment? – styfle Oct 18 '11 at 6:10
  • You just had a weird déjà vu moment. – Jason Salaz Oct 18 '11 at 16:30
  • I'm not so happy to have my private data under someone else's control. But it is a smart business. – Hack Saw Oct 22 '11 at 19:46

Ghost Buttons on the iPad's Split Keyboard

Many have complained about the split keyboard not matching their natural finger choice for the middle letters (TY / GH / VB), but as it turns out, those keys all exist on the both sides of the keyboard. Want to hit Y with your left finger? Do it, it's there, and it's really wide too, easily 3 buttons wide. Want to hit V with your right finger? Do it, same rules apply. It's really amazingly well done.

Hat tip to Finer Things in iOS:

enter image description here


Multi-touch gestures on iPad

  1. Pinch to close app
  2. Swipe up with four fingers to show the app switcher
  3. Swipe left/right with four fingers to switch between running apps

I'm finding number 3 less useful so far but 1 and 2 are becoming second nature.

  • 4
    It kinda sucks but this feature existed for iPad 1 in iOS 4.3. They pulled this out in iOS 5. – Enrico Susatyo Oct 17 '11 at 0:14
  • I enjoy using 1 and 3 (3 is a real time saver), hadn't found 2 yet. – ocodo Oct 17 '11 at 2:59
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    Gestures are returning to the first iPad in iOS 5.0.1. – Matt Peterson Nov 5 '11 at 18:46
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    iOS 5.0.1 makes this appear on iPad 1 :) – Enrico Susatyo Nov 23 '11 at 4:53
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    I love this feature. I never use the home button anymore. ;-) – daviesgeek Feb 21 '12 at 18:24

Notifications allows control over badge counts

If you prefer icons to be clean and without status - specifically in apps like Mail, notifications allows fine grained control over displaying a badge or not.


You can send and receive iPhone FaceTime calls via email addresses

This is nothing new to iPod touch or iPad users, but up until iOS 5 iPhone users could only send or receive FaceTime calls with their phone number. Now you can add one or more email addresses to the FaceTime section in Settings to enable people to FaceTime you at those addresses. You can also configure the Caller ID to be either the phone number or any of the email addresses - useful to prevent people you FaceTime with from getting your phone number.

You also have the same flexibility with iMessage as well, the ability to send and receive messages from either your phone number of any number of email addresses.

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    This is now feature-equal with OS X's Facetime.app, and that helps, a lot. – Jason Salaz Oct 15 '11 at 7:34
  • You should mention the same goes for iMessage too. – styfle Oct 18 '11 at 6:15

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