As promised, Apple on Wednesday issued iOS 5, the next generation of its mobile operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with wireless syncing, iCloud support and the new Notification Center.
Before users can update to iOS 5, they must be running iTunes 10.5, which was publicly released on Tuesday. Once installed, an iOS device can then be updated to version 5.
For many, the install of iOS 5 will represent the last time they tether their iOS device to a computer via USB to back up, sync and update through iTunes. Going forward, the software update will allow users to accomplish all of those tasks wirelessly, without the need to use a cable.
iOS 5 is available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, first-generation iPad, fourth-generation iPod touch, and third-generation iPod touch. Most of the downloads weigh in at more than 700 megabytes, but future delta updates delivered wirelessly will be much smaller, and will be capable of being installed directly from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
An update is also available for the Apple TV, bringing wireless mirroring functionality over AirPlay.
The release of iOS 5 comes two days ahead of the launch of the iPhone 4S, which will also feature the next-generation operating system. The software update was received positively in AppleInsider's in-depth iOS 5 review.
The golden master built of iOS 5 was released to developers last week, representing the same final code that was made public on Wednesday. That has given developers time to make sure their applications can be updated and ensure compatibility with iOS 5 and its new features.
In all, iOS 5 packs more than 200 new features. The most noteworthy among them is Notification Center, which allows users to easily view and manage notifications in one place without interruption; iMessage, a new messaging service that lets you easily send text messages, photos and videos between iOS devices; and Newsstand, a new way to purchase newspapers and magazine subscriptions.