iOS 5 Release Date: Apple iOS 5 Launches; Why is it a Big Deal?

Apple’s latest iOS 5 operating system for its mobile devices will be available Wednesday with over 200 new features. Why is it a big deal?

The new version of its iOS software attempts to unify portable devices into the same family.

Although in the past users have been required to plug into a computer to sync music, ferry over data, and get software updates, now those features are incorporated into the iOS 5 itself, making the devices stand on their own.

Apple’s calls it the start of a “PC free” era for portable devices.

The new software also offers change in its notifications that would previously pop up and completely take over the focus of whatever the user was doing on the phone.

It is now a smaller banner that folds down and back away a few seconds later. The banner has been sized so that the user can check updates without leaving the page they are on.

The iOS platform had been unified bringing what is largely the same version of the software to all its recent model devices at once. The users of iOS 5 get same version of the software with recent models, with the exception of Siri, which is an iPhone 4S exclusive.

Further playing into the idea of one big platform is iMessage that uses data to let iOS users send messages to one another. This lets iPod Touch and iPad users message through a first-party application while being an alternative for iPhone users who had to use SMS and MMS services in Apple’s SMS app.

It is not as big a change as iOS 4’s multitasking update last year. However, it is giving iOS users new ways of working, and is making iOS a stronger standalone platform.