Ever since Apple unveiled iOS 5 last June, most of its features have essentially been public knowledge. Notification Center, iMessage, etc. — we’ve been talking about this stuff for several months now.

But the latest version of iOS includes over 200 new features, and many of them have gone unnoticed. So, we put together a short list of 5 awesome features that you may or may not know about. Hit the break for the rundown…

In no particular order, here’s 5 awesome iOS 5 features you probably didn’t know about:

System-Wide Dictionary

Apple touched on this back in June, but it hasn’t received much attention since. iOS 5 has a built-in dictionary that works in virtually any application.

It’s accessed by highlighting a word, the same way you do for cut and paste. Once text is selected, Define will appear in a popup next to Cut and Copy. Tapping it will bring up a scrollable overlay that not only gives you the definition of a word, but also its origin and in some cases its derivatives. Yeah, it’s pretty in-depth.

Custom Vibrations

iOS 5 also allows you to create your own custom vibrations. To enable the feature, simply go to your Settings app, select General, and then Accessibility.

Under the Hearing section, you’ll see the Custom Vibrations option. Enable it. Then you’ll back up to the Settings main menu, tap the Sounds tab, and select the Vibration menu at the bottom. You should now see the option to create a new vibration. After you create a custom pattern, you can save it and even attach it to a contact.

Text Expansion

That’s right, iOS 5 has its own version of the jailbreak utility called Xpander. You can set your very own text shortcuts that will auto-expand into full words or phrases.

For example, typing “idb” would turn into iDownloadBlog. You can program these shortcuts by visiting the Settings app, tapping General, and then Keyboard. You should see the Shortcuts section at the bottom, along with the option to add a new one. Like the aforementioned utility, this feature can make typing on your iPhone and iPad much more efficient.

Full Emoji Keyboard

Sometimes, words just can’t say everything. Luckily, iOS 5 has a full Emoji keyboard available to help you express your feelings with tiny clip art. There are pictures for almost anything you can think of, from clothing garments to food items, and of course your typical emoticons.

You can turn on Emoji from the Settings app by selecting General, Keyboard, and then International Keyboards. Tap Add New Keyboard, and you should see Emoji in the list. Once it’s added, you can access it anytime by tapping the globe icon in the iOS keyboard that sits to the left of the space bar.

Custom Alert Tones

This is a feature that should have been in iOS 4 (and probably earlier versions): the ability to choose custom alert tones. I’m not talking about ring or message tones, those were there. I’m talking about tones for mail received, mail sent, and calendar alerts. And iOS 5 finally has them.

To customize your alert tones, just open up your Settings app and tap Sounds. There’s even a bonus Tweet alert sound you can choose, thanks to the system-level Twitter integration in iOS 5. Don’t see the sound you want? Tap the Buy More Tones link to browse iTunes for more options.

What’s your favorite new feature in iOS 5?

  • Francesco

    Lockscreen Cameraaaa…..and the web-dictonary 🙂 FTW

    • Maia

      My favorite thing is how you can finally make your own album in the camera

      • Kriss631

        How can u do your own albums ?

  • Monarch


  • Albums in Photos App

    • Na

      This was actually disappointing to me.. It doesn’t remove it from your camera reel to put it in an album, it just makes a copy in the album. Then, if you delete it from your camera reel, it erases it from the album… This album feature has been available to jailbreakers fr a while, and they did it better than apple.

      • Dev

        I’m also so disappointed. such a simple feature that they can’t get right

      • soccerkrzy

        So it’s almost like the albums are “tags”, that’s a neat concept if your’e diligent at “tagging” pictures into the “albums”. But I agree, PhotoAlbums+ did a great job with the implementation (and the ability to create private password protected albums).

      • Ryan

        Obviously you guys aren’t familiar with Apple’s other software products like iPhoto, Aperture, iMovie, and iTunes. This is standard behavior and allows robust grouping and organization without needing to have separate copies (though I wish there was something like it for songs in iTunes for artist, album, and genre).

        Anyone who has used these others will be instantly familiar with how to use this feature. Which makes sense because they’re all Apple products. One more way to slowly rope you in, I guess.

  • Drock

    I’ll let u know when ups delivers my phone in bout an hr.

  • JT

    The word shortcut feature is a huge time saver.

  • JT

    The iPhone 4S vibrator seems to be much improved.

  • Daniel

    Lol, I added in my “@@” shortcut to my email address. Just like my Cydia hack.

    • jamesandyori

      Please explain.

      • ReanimationXP

        “Double At” (@@) is a Cydia tweak that would replace anywhere you type @@ with your email address. Very useful.

    • Nice, another Cydia app killed by iOS

    • Proinsias

      I did the same!
      Perfect for quick insert.

      I knew about all these features before I read the post. Wish I heard somethin new. Bring on the jailbreak tweaks!!!

  • FeO

    Good to know thanks.

  • JJ

    Didnt know about the built in emoji. Thanks!

  • ITaY

    I think the Nofications center it’s amazing
    And the emoji keyboard

  • ITaY

    I think the Nofications center it’s amazing
    And the emoji keyboard

  • Hmm, these actually look like some awesome tweaks. I’m really excited about the text shortcut thing. I love the JB tweak “Double @), which I can tap and it does my email address. But I would fucking love it if I could have a shortcut for my password for App Purchases 🙂

    • If ur jailbroken, download PasswordPilot from Cydia. It stores ur Apple ID password and works great.

  • rock

    Haven’t read about this anywhere, but they added a “Find on Page” function when using Safari. Access it by clicking on the search bar.

    • Dann

      that was already there!

    • Proinsias

      To search enter what you want to find in the google search bar and scroll to the bottom of the suggestions that says “on this page”

  • montev87

    Text formatting in Mail…

  • Rob

    Girlfriend updated to iOS 5. I tried setting the twitter tweet tone to tweet but it didn’t work. I tried the tweet on a text and it works so the tone it’s self is not an issue. I tried another tone without the twitter sound and it was the default tri tone again. Just wondering if Antibes twitter tweet tone has been successfully changed??? Thanks

  • Hasan

    Thx . I just remember now it have a built in dictionary .

  • Parminder

    Recent Call Delete is also a great feature!

  • Jason

    I did NOT know about the dictionary or custom vibrations (sounds like a reggae band name) thanks for the info!

  • szyn

    Hey guys, tell me, is skype working properly on iOS 5?

  • eastonl33t

    the lockscreen camera is a security hole. Say someone grabs the iphone and double clicks the home button even though there is a passcode enabled and starts taking pictures of porn or something not good on your company iphone and Human Resources somehow gets a hold of it or hears about bad pictures…..now your fired. big security hole. apple should allow users to disable this feature.

    • surfgon

      yeah wear hard hat because an airplane can fall on you ….how people just think on negative way like you.

    • Ryan

      Apple already allows companies to disable this feature, as in they can use Exchange security profiles to disable the camera entirely. Who knows? Maybe there’ll be such an option added specifically for this feature. There’s the old adage that if someone gains physical access to your system, they gain full access and it doesn’t really matter what security features you have enabled. If you have a problem with this, you might just want to keep a closer eye on your phone. Or just go through your pictures periodically and make sure you don’t have anything that’s not HR appropriate.

      We always have to sacrifice security for convenience and vice versa. For something like this, convenience probably trumps security. They already can’t see your pictures. And there’s generally not many situations where adding a few pictures to your phone is a security problem.

      But who knows? Maybe 5.0.1 will add a toggle. Or you could just jailbreak and get a tweak to remove it.

  • Peidro

    havent upgraded yet, but is there a limit to how many of the text expansion commands you can add?

  • Amd

    there is one feature that nobody is talking about. apple decided to maintain complete silence and not to mention it during the announcement ceremony of i4S and even iDB is keeping quiet about it while one of the greatest things this phone offers is directly related to this particular feature!!? i wonder why! it’s a camera feature….you can swipe right to view the last snap while in the camera application, and swipe back left to go back to the camera!

    • Nick Chambers

      Oh, nice one. I like it.

  • iMiss

    Can’t downgrade to 4.3.3 once you upgrade to re-jailbreak EVER so I’m less than impressed and I’m looking to add cydia plain and simple. Not an emulator or a knock off. IOS5 is smoke and mirrors in my opinion.

    • Ryan

      That’s not true. You can downgrade to 4.x. At present you won’t, however, be able to downgrade from 5.1 to 5.0. That’s where the problem lies. Not immediate, but future.

  • mjselvig

    Multitouch gestures on the iPad!

    • yohanas

      u still alive MJ?

  • Sarah

    Under sounds, it says “tweet” between “sent mail” and “Calendar alerts” what is tweet? I figured it would be the sound it makes when you receive a tweet from twitter, but it does not.

  • fdxgncgfn

    Kind of weird how the stuff that came from the jailbreak community was the only stuff people forgot, even though they were the most exciting features new to iOS 5

  • Sean
  • Warren

    I thought we were getting tabbed browsing in safari?

  • Warren

    I thought we were getting tabbed browsing in safari

  • Michelle

    I have tabbed browsing in ios 5, just have to hit the + on the upper right by the tabs and viola!

  • Warren

    That’s strange mine is just the normal browser without tabs. I’m definately on ios5 I’ve just tried a reboot and still not there. Any ideas anyone?

  • Warren

    I’ve just read somewhere it’s only available on iPad and not iPhone 🙁

  • iJoke

    Awesome tip yet again Cody. Cheers!

  • Sandra

    Yesterday (or the day before) I spent a load of time to find a proper free dictionary, and now I find that it’s already there and suits my purposes well! At least I didn’t buy one, lol.

  • lhiegh

    how about my downloaded ringtone? i cant sync it anymore?

  • Conor Geoghegan

    The Twitter alert doesnt work, just comes through as Tri-tone no matter what you select it as.