iOS 5 is here

After much excited anticipation and maybe a little bit of pants-wetting, iOS 5 has finally dropped.

This major update to the operating system that powers Apple’s iPads, iPhones and iPod touches was released today for download via iTunes. Simply connect your iOS device and check for updates to get it downloaded and installed for free.

iOS represents a major step forward for Apple’s mobile products. Most notable is its integration with iCloud, a new Internet-based storage system that allows users to keep copies of their “stuff” on the Internet. Music, photos and files created by Apple software can reside in the cloud (or the iCloud, if you prefer) and be readily accessible regardless of which device you’re using. For example: Buy a song with your iPhone and it becomes accessible to any iCloud-compatible device. Write a document in Pages on your Mac and it becomes accessible, too. Backup to the cloud is transparent and persistent… so it’s present without you having to do anything.

That’s not all iOS 5 has to offer, however. Over 200 new features have been added, such as a brand new way of handling notifications (far superior to the old system, which has suffered much criticism from press and public), wireless synchronizing, Twitter integration, and the controversial iMessage software, which threatens to supplant mobile carriers’ overpriced and poorly-performing SMS messaging system (and let’s hope it does).

iOS 5 is the software compliment to the new iPhone 4S from Apple (also slated to arrive this week), a more powerful phone that is iOS 5-ready.

Go update and check it out, true believers.

Corey has been been a tech journalist with a focus on Apple since 1998 and has written for The Loop, MacHome magazine, and as games contributor for The Mac Bible, and co-hosts the iGame Radio Podcast. He works as a… Full Bio