New in iOS 5: Accessibility Changes, iPad Gestures + Split Keyboard


Two of the new changes in iOS 5 were not given special attention during the WWDC 2011 Keynote today. First, Apple has officially added new multitasking gestures to the iPad that were previewed—originally for comments from developers—starting in a prior beta version of iOS 4. The gestures include four- or five-finger swipes to reveal the multitasking bar, pinch to return to the Home screen, and left- or right-swipes to switch between apps. While some developers complained that the gestures created issues in their apps, Apple’s decision to preview them in iOS 4 and then include them in iOS 5 gave developers a chance to figure out ways to accommodate them; the beta version of iOS 5 will continue this testing opportunity through fall.

New in iOS 5: Accessibility Changes, iPad Gestures + Split Keyboard

Additionally, Apple has disclosed a collection of Accessibility updates. In addition to adding support for specialized hardware accessories created for users with mobility, hearing, vision, and cognitive disabilities, iOS 5 includes LED flash and custom vibration settings to signal when people are calling. It also includes VoiceOver improvements such as custom element labeling to provide personalized spoken cues for menu options.

A third interesting feature was briefly previewed: a new iPad “split keyboard” that lets users rely on their thumbs or fingers on opposite sides of the screen for typing. Swiping down with four fingers will bring up the keyboard, which includes roughly half of its smaller-sized keys on each side of the screen, and can be repositioned upwards or downwards as you prefer. The new keyboard enables you to see more of the center of the screen without having keys in the way.

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Jeremy Horwitz

Jeremy Horwitz was the Editor-in-Chief at iLounge. He has written over 5,000 articles and reviews for the website and is one of the most respected members of the Apple media. Horwitz has been following Apple since the release of the original iPod in 2001. He was one of the first reviewers to receive a pre-release unit of the device, and his review helped put iLounge on the map as a go-to source for Apple news.