iOS 5 has a bundle of great headline features but also packs in a few extremely useful ones you might not even notice.
If you followed the release of Apple's iOS 5, you'll know about the many big-ticket features like iCloud sync, Music Match and Wi-Fi syncing rather than having to plug in via USB.
But there are numerous other small improvements in iOS that Apple hasn't talked about much but which are really useful.
Want to have a thumb-friendly split keyboard on your iPad? Now you can.
Custom autotext shortcuts
OK, Microsoft Word has had autotext since last century, and there's any number of apps for Windows and Mac OS X that will give it to you, but it has never been possible with a (non-Jailbroken) iPad until now.
iOS 5 introduces proper autotext shortcuts, which are extremely useful for saving repetitive typing of things you often add in to emails, instant message chats or documents (for example: delivery addresses!).
Unfortunately they're hidden away in a submenu that very few people would ever look at. To add them, go to ‘Settings > General > Keyboard > Add new shortcut’.
Apple provides iOS with one pre-defined keyboard shortcut as an example: "omw" will convert to "on my way!" in any app you type it in.
Multi-touch app switching
One of the biggest time-wasters when working with a tablet is switching between apps. There's just no substitute for Alt+Tab!
iOS 5 introduces a multi-touch method of switching apps: four finger swipe to switch apps (you'll be swiping through apps in the order you last used them) and a five finger pinch to close the app and return to the home screen.
This only works on the iPad 2, but not through any hardware limitation of the iPad 1 - it appears Apple has just made a decision to make it an iPad 2 feature.
Oddly enough, iPad 1 users can get multitouch gestures if they stick with iOS 4.3 rather than upgrading to 5. They can be enabled by signing up for a free iOS developer account, downloading Xcode from the Mac App Store, then selecting ‘Use this iPad for development’, which will make a ‘multitouch gestures’ setting appear in settings.
Location specific reminders
The trouble with To-Do lists is you need to remember "to-do" them - and invariably, time-based reminders pop up while you're on the train or doing something else.
The new ‘reminders’ app in iOS lets you be reminded of things when you arrive near a certain location. For example, a ‘buy milk’ item could ping you when you're near the local supermarket. Genius!
To enable this, create a new reminder in the Reminders app, then in its ‘remind me’ sub-menu, slide the ‘at a location’ button to ‘on’ and type an address. You can have it remind you when you leave your specified location, or arrive back there (which could also be useful for ‘don't forget to take nuts and bolts to work’).
You'll need a 3G iPad to be able to take advantage of location-based reminders.
Feel like you're always playing thumb-twister trying to type on the iPad's on-screen keyboard while also holding it with both hands? Apple has built in a nifty split keyboard which docks a small half-keyboard on each side of the screen for easier reach. Just press and hold the keyboard type button at the bottom right hand corner of the keyboard, and select 'split keyboard'.