So here we are, two days after Apple released the first beta of its feature-packed iOS 5 mobile operating system. This also means we’ve had 48 hours to play with test out iOS 5 on both iPads and iPhones of varying specification and we’ve come to some conclusions. While the OS is a surprisingly stable first effort, there are still some rough edges to smooth out.

Here are a few of the things we’ve discovered over the last couple of days – perhaps this will put you off installing the beta considering there doesn’t appear to be a way to go back to good ol’ iOS 4.3.3…

General performance

Performance on a variety of hardware has been surprisingly nippy in general use with the newly improved Camera app seeing a nice speed boost. There are times the OS seems to grind to a halt – presumably when some sort of indexing is taking place. The first day was the worst, perhaps due to Spotlight churning its way through a couple of Gmail accounts-worth of email, though this will obviously happen no matter the iOS version.

One thing of note: if you’re planning on using your phone while it’s either syncing or backing up to iCloud, just don’t bother. In our experience (though the iPad 2 is obviously slightly better here due to its extra horsepower) the device feels sluggish enough to just not be worth the hassle. This writer accidentally called a family member at 2am because half a dozen taps registered ten seconds after they were made and then there was no way to end the call as the iPhone was so unresponsive.

Hopefully such things will improve with the release of further betas, though we can’t help but think a faster CPU and more RAM may be needed to fix it properly.

Battery life

Battery life is usually the one thing that’s guaranteed to take a hit when running a beta version of iOS. Not only is the software pre-release and thus not optimized yet, but Apple tends to have some debugging software running in the background that will feed information on performance and possibly problems back to Cupertino. All this takes processing power which in turn takes battery power.

That said, we’re not really sure about iOS 5. A usual day yields around 22hours of standby time and 4 hours of use from an iPhone on average in our experience. That includes plenty of push notifications and two Gmail accounts set up as Exchange. The screen is set to automatic brightness with the slider at 3/4 for a starting point.

What we appear to be getting from iOS 5 isn’t quite as good, though all things considered it isn’t disastrous either. At the time of writing, this is the state of play: 16h 29m of standby and 5h 43m of usage. While at first we thought that represented a significant drop in standby time, the usage is worth noting. Perhaps all that playing with the Notification Center and iMessage is taking its toll?

In summary – the battery life will increase with each new beta and we know that from experience. We’re certainly not too concerned for the final release.

Notifications

Apple’s new notification system was met with applause at WWDC on Monday, and we can see why. The much-vaunted Notification Center is both beautiful and functional, though it isn’t without its issues.

The main issue which is proving difficult to pin down is one involving the arrival of certain push notifications. By design, new notifications trigger a rotating box at the top of the screen containing text explaining what the notification is. It works well, except when it doesn’t.

For reasons we just can’t quite get our heads around, sometimes this notification method gets a little confused and some pushes get sort of pushed twice, in quick succession. Audible tones or vibrations happen twice and the box rotates super-fast then disappears.

The most odd thing is the lack of any consistency. Sometimes it happens with Twitter’s official app, sometimes it doesn’t. It almost always happens with our IM client of choice, BeeJive but never happens with any sort of message – be it SMS, MMS or iMessage.

Odd? Youbetcha!

iMessage

Touted as Apple’s answer to RIM’s BBM, iMessage is the new inter-iOS device messaging system that allows users to send text or media to one-another for free.

iMessage is designed to work across multiple devices meaning a conversation can be had on one device but will automatically be updated on the other too.

The problem is that in our testing of an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2, this isn’t always the case. Some messages appear on both, some only on the device the conversation was instigated on. Sometimes it gets updated regardless, then just stops.

We’re putting this one down to beta software, be it on our devices or the servers at Apple’s end and we’re sure they’ll get it sorted before real people get to find any problems.

Conclusion

Those are just a few of the issues off the top of our heads, though we’ll sure stumble across others and we’re equally sure we’ve missed some that will be driving you mad (that’s what the comments are for!).

Oh, and before people start shouting ‘Oh but it’s a beta, it’s going to be buggy!’ – we know that, and we’re the first to say that iOS 5 is one of the most stable iOS betas we’ve had the pleasure of testing out. Granted there are a handful of apps that don’t seem to play ball with the new OS but that’s to be expected.

Overall, a great start to iOS 5 and we can’t wait to get our hands on beta2 !

  • Chris

    “there doesn’t appear to be a way to go back to good ol’ iOS 4.3.3…”

    i just restored back to 4.3.3 from 5.0 and it worked perfectly?

    • Daniel

      Not sure if anyone else has had the problem but when I got to Settings>Wallpaper I just get a white screen, no wallpapers show up, setting it from photos app works fine though

      • Deatherstar

        I agree. I have ame issue. Settings>Wallpaper>tap wallpaper and get white screen. However if you go into camera roll you can still choose pic set as wallpaper. Just does not have default wallpapers and from Settings>Wallpaper>tap wallpaper and it does not go to your pics to allow you to choose wallpaper.

      • josh

        Happened to me also, so I did a clean restore, and it fixed.

      • BLiNK

        the way i understand it; wallpapers are not available until the Final Release

      • Yup, that’s happening to me as well.

    • mike

      Can u please elaborate? Is it just by default restore button? TIA.

    • Deatherstar

      (thumbs up) I agree. I have Dev acct and put UDIDs from iPhone 4 and 3GS on my acct installed iOS 5 beta. I am okay with it as developer. Wife misses all her apps. I warned her this was beta! She said “a fish???” Silly girl. Anyway. Just hooked up to Itune shift restore (windows) choose 4.3.3, worked fine. re jailbroke restored back uop from itunes and back up from Pkg Backup and now wife has all Apple apps and Cydia apps, se is happy again!

      • mike

        Cool!!! Thanks for the confirmation and elaboration. Whoohoo.

      • Lewser

        Thats good to know. Part of me wants to restore and get all my jailbreak stuff back, the other part of me wants to keep playing with the betas as they come out. Decisions Decisions…….

    • jc

      yes me too. i put my phone in DFU mode. and itunes restored it to 4.3.3 no issues. no tinyumbrella needed.

    • yeah, just go into DFU mode and go back.

  • Lewser

    One more bug: you can’t save pictures to camera roll from SMS.

  • Lewser

    Also having a problem with folders getting stuck in open state.

  • ToeJo

    Battery life for me has been terrible. Expected, but terrible. There are also the typical bluetooth problems that always seem to be the last thing fixed. None the less…I agree, I’m amazed at how well this beta 1 runs. It has fewer bugs than the RTM of Vista…HA. (all right, that’s not saying much…I know…forgive me…but it does runs well)

    • QuarterSwede

      Restore it again and don’t restore from backup. Instead set it up as new. Usually fixes the issue.

  • God

    Y’all forgot a few…

    1. apple separated the music from the videos, this new thing is so annoying because now (for people like me that don’t like the clutter) we have yet another app (like the stock app) that we can’t get rid of, I really enjoyed all my media in one app.. Put them back together apple

    2. I’m a dev so my beta is legit but once a day my phone just restarts itself right in the middle of use… Idk why but it’s hardly bothersome

    3. The most annoying to me is the “app badges” you can disable them but if you have the app in a folder, the badge is right on the folder and not off like you wanted it to be…

    4. The ability to download apps you didn’t pay for.. This is the most troubling… I found that with this new update, you can download apps that is not registered to your account right to your iPhone.. I tested with a few friends AND IT WORKED!!!!… I told apple and they seem to not give a damn so neither do it

    • Deatherstar

      Yeah for free apps! THX Apple!

      • tragicchris

        lol naw, no thanks to app, tried to warn them that this could piss a lot of devs off but they didnt have anything to say… a simple 2 step process is all thats needed to get free apps… i think apple is going to have a problem on their hands

  • God

    Y’all forgot a few…
    1. apple separated the music from the videos, this new thing is so annoying because now (for people like me that don’t like the clutter) we have yet another app (like the stock app) that we can’t get rid of, I really enjoyed all my media in one app.. Put them back together apple
    2. I’m a dev so my beta is legit but once a day my phone just restarts itself right in the middle of use… Idk why but it’s hardly bothersome
    3. The most annoying to me is the “app badges” you can disable them but if you have the app in a folder, the badge is right on the folder and not off like you wanted it to be…
    4. The ability to download apps you didn’t pay for.. This is the most troubling… I found that with this new update, you can download apps that is not registered to your account right to your iPhone.. I tested with a few friends AND IT WORKED!!!!… I told apple and they seem to not give a damn so neither do it

  • Joe

    You guys should report all these problems to the developer forums so apple knows what to fix.

  • Michael

    I’ve taken three iPhones and two iPads back to 4.3.3. Don’t spread bullshit lies man. And it’s a fucking beta. Calm down.

  • David Smith

    I haven’t seen any mention anywhere of whether SMS’s to non-iOS devices will now have a delivery receipt. Anyone able to confirm. ?

  • FutureMedia

    When trying to turn on Apps and Books for automatic downloads omy iPad 2 the switches keep reverting to off after a second of on. These switches work fine on my iPhone 4. Wondering why they don’t on my iPad 2. Calling Apple tech support today to ask.

  • SRUm1sh

    Nice article.

  • Mr.popo

    Anyone tested iOS 5 on 3GS? How is it? Is it great?

    • Raul

      I restore my iphone 3gs from 5.0 to 4.3.3 to my errors with beta

  • Junios

    Its just a Beta of course their are going to be problems. Wait until its officially released to actually complain about what is wrong with iOS 5.

  • ToeJo

    Michael, Junios…lighten up. No one is complaining…just discussing the state of things. No one needs to calm down because no one is upset. Can’t we have a simple discussion without people getting their panties in a bunch because we notice what might not be working. I know it’s a beta…and so does everyone else.

  • cave

    I have apps that don’t start anymore on the ipad : ex. Fifa 11

  • Mr.popo

    I think i’m gonna upgrade my 3GS into i4…

  • Another issue is that Safari isn’t opening pages in the background even after I set it to. So the new Safari is pretty much acting like the old one except it has the read later option and I can tweet from it.

  • yourmom

    5GB?!?! That sucks!

  • Mrs G

    Hi, i just wanted to know if anyone had the same problem which that I downloaded the ios5 and then went to my old backup and then noticed that my calender changed to the old format and not the new!! Wasted a whole day on getting it back but have had no luck. I use the calendar alot!! Any advice would be appreciated!! Also already tried downgrade but for UK users the Apple have made it impossible to jailbreak!!