They're coming. We don't know exactly when, yet--but Apple already did the big Steve Jobs magic show to reveal what's in store for us with the upcoming iOS 5 and iCloud. As I wind down the 30 Days With the iPad series, I thought it would be a good idea to look at what iOS 5 and iCloud bring to the table and the impact they might have on the capabilities of the iPad as a PC replacement.
None of these things will help you today, but iOS 5 and iCloud are imminent, so a month or two from now things could be very different:
Wireless Updates. Finally! It's amazing that the iPhone and iPad have managed to achieve the success and popularity they have while still requiring the device(s) to be physically tethered to a PC in order to sync and update. Without iOS 5, you literally can't replace your PC with an iPad because you need the PC in order to keep the iPad up to date. With iOS 5, Apple finally cuts the cord.
Mail. Similar to wireless updates, the changes to Mail are very welcome, and very tardy. The Mail app in iOS 5 lets you do a lot more with email messages--bold, italic, and underlined text, indent text, flag messages, move messages to folders. Basically, the changes in iOS 5 let the iOS Mail app do what email has been able to do on other platforms for years. It isn't innovative. It isn't ground-breaking. It is very welcome.
Notification Center: The Notification Center in iOS 5 serves two useful purposes--it keeps you informed of messages and alerts without interrupting what you're doing, and it consolidates your messages and alerts in one place. It also displays notifications even when the iPad is locked, and enables you to access and act on them with a swipe.
iMessage. This one is cool, but probably has limited value for many users because--like FaceTime--it is iOS centric. iMessages lets you send instant messages with text, photos, videos, location info, and contacts. It's like SMS text messages on steroids, but only with other iOS 5 devices. One compelling feature of iMessage, though, is the ability to switch devices mid-conversation. You can start a chat on your iPad, and pick up where you left off on your iPhone.