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Apple's iOS 5 is the best iOS so far, once you get it installed [Video]

Screen Shot 2011-10-15 at 2.32.25 PM

Apple's iOS mobile operating system changed the definition of what a smartphone could be when it launched in 2007 on the first-generation iPhone.

Each year since, we've seen the release of a new, more capable iPhone and annual updates to iOS that add new features for Apple's competitors to follow and features that allow iOS to catch up to its rivals too.

This week, with the release of the iPhone 4S, came the release of iOS 5 to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad and iPad 2. And again, iOS plays a bit of catch-up with features while adding a lot of newness as well. 

In all, Apple says there are more than 200 new features in iOS 5. I won't go over all them here as I haven't yet found all 200 for myself. However, the conclusion I've arrived at after days of testing iOS 5 is that this is the best and most complete version of iOS 5 to date.

Since iOS' initial release five years ago, iOS has been tweaked and improved and now has an answer for nearly every complaint I have for it. That's not to say that I don't have gripes with iOS 5 -- I do. But my complaints are now mostly limited to simply getting the operating system installed on my device -- something that shouldn't be a problem for those not rushing to install iOS 5 on day one.

In the video below, my colleague Michelle Maltais and I talk about what a buggy and cumbersome pain it was to install iOS 5 and even get iCloud up an running this week.

We also offer our take on some of the more prominent features in iOS 5 such as new multi-touch gestures, a notification center (finally), Twitter integration, the new Newsstand app folder, iMessage (Apple's answer to BBM) and handy location-based Reminders. 

One item not covered in our video review is the number of improvements made to iOS' version of the Safari browser. The update to iOS 5 brings tabbed browsing and integration with Safari on your laptop or desktop for bookmarks and reading list. These additions make Safari much more useful by syncing across devices and pull a bit ahead of Android's browser with the addition of reading list integration, while catching up with tabbed browsing -- something Android has offered for a while now.

There are also a few features offered in iOS 5 we haven't had the chance to test out that we'll return to at a later date -- such as the Siri voice-command personal assistant app found only on the iPhone 4S and iTunes Match, a $25-per-year service (set to debut in October) that replicates an iTunes users' entire music collection, including songs not purchased from iTunes, in the cloud.

But even without Siri and without iTunes Match yet available, my opinion is that iOS 5 is the most polished and intuitive mobile operating system on the market today. I'd rank it above any version of Google's Android released thus far and Microsoft's Windows Phone software too. 

I'm still delving into Windows Phone Mango and we'll have a detailed review into Mango on the Technology blog soon (maybe I'll change my tune in iOS taking the top spot by the time that's done with). And Google is set to release its all-new Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS next week. So while Apple may be on top with iOS 5, the competition will only getting tougher ahead.

Feel free to sound off on iOS 5 in the comments below.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple's iOS 5 operating system running on two Apple iPad 2 tablets and an iPhone 4. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times

twitter.com/emamd

 
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