So, I updated my iPhone 3Gs to iOS 5 a few days ago. There are a couple of features I'm ECSTATIC about, there are a couple I'm a little miffed aren't as advertised (i.e. not included), and there are those I just don't care about. I am going to go down the list as Apple has them listed on their site.
Notification Center: This is a nice feature. I can take it or leave it, honestly, but it's nice that it's there. I think I would be more excited if I had more communications like I did with my previous job (the only thing I miss about my previous job is the chair - it was a NICE chair).
iMessage: Confusing and limited. Not sure how this one is going to play out. It's all jammed together in one app and the app decides when to use it instead of SMS. I'll need to look into it more when some of my friends update.
NewsStand: VERY limited selection from what I saw and, frankly, I don't want the icon if I'm not going to use it. Let me take it off the home screen.
Reminders: I like this feature. I can see it coming in handy like a ToDo list. But you can have multiple lists so I could potentially keep a list of DVDs I want to look out for at garage sales. There are supposed to have location-based capabilities. Apple says, "Say you need to remember to pick up milk during your next grocery trip. Since Reminders can be location based, you’ll get an alert as soon as you pull into the supermarket parking lot." I haven't seen it.
I have done some bit of research and it appears the location capabilities are only available on the iPhone 4 and 4S (and, presumably, future iPhone models). With previous updates it has been quite clear where the feature implementation line is drawn but not so here. In the past they may have said something like, 'If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S, reminders can be location based.' but apparently they think it's funny to make everyone who doesn't have an iPhone 4 or 4S go looking for phantom features.
Twitter integration: Yeah? So? I guess this is important if you use Twitter a lot.
Camera updates: Yay! They made a hardware button click the shutter! Do you know how awkward it is to push that button on the screen sometimes? Thanks for this one, Apple. There are also editing capabilities. For me the screen on the phone is too small for editing but it's nice to have the ability to do a quick crop.
The Apple iOS page says you can access it from the lock screen - not that I've seen on the 3Gs.
Safari: Reader view and reader list look interesting but I haven't had an opportunity to try them. There's supposed to be tabbed browsing but, again, apparently not for the 3Gs (why not?). I don't like using Safari and I generally don't like browsing on my phone so not a reason to upgrade.
Wireless Sync: I applaud Apple for bringing this to their devices. This is a feature the Microsoft Zune has had since the second generation devices. Apple's implementation still needs a few tweaks. I'm not sure why iTunes keeps launching itself (yet another reason to hate it). Implement a little watcher program if you want to have it auto-launch so it only launches when I try to sync. Either that or make it my own damn fault for not leaving/having iTunes running. I don't know if you've noticed but iTunes is a bit of a resource hog.
iCloud: I don't find this revolutionary but I do find it comforting. I get 5 gigs for my apps, contacts, calendar and photos and any of my purchase from iTunes are stored up there as well without charging against my space. (they get away with this because they're only storing a pointer/shortcut/alias in your iCloud, not the actual item). For the most part, it's all automatic.
Is iCloud just a backup/sync service? What if I would like to browse what is stored up there (i.e. view a slideshow of my photos)? There's no app or anything. If it's just a backup service, why all the hype?
Mail: Limited text formatting. I can go for that. Message flagging. A very handy feature.
Calendar: Haven't taken an opportunity to explore the calendar enhancements. I've been using Extreme Calendar by Birdsoft because it has templates. It meshes with the built-in calendar so I'm not inclined to switch back.
Multitasking Gestures for iPad 2: Thanks for specifying but is there some reason original iPad owners didn't get this?
Game Center: Never used it.
That's all they highlight on their features page but there are more new features, like expanded and custom alert tones. As I stated in my original post, I love that I can create my own alert tones. I have been having a grand time creating new ones to import to my phone.
Here are some more hidden features.
User-Defined Keyboard Shortcuts: In general I like text expanders. I'm not very prolific in messaging via email, twitter, facebook, SMS, etc. on my phone so I haven't configured this but I did find it. It's under general->keyboard in the settings.
Custom Vibrations: Really? I'll have to look into that one.
LED flashes for visual alerts: Read about that one but it's a moot point on a 3Gs.
Instant definitions: I'm sure that'll come in handy. I'll have to read up on that one.
There are others and I'm sure I'll discover more.
A glitch I seem to have is when taking my phone out of standby. Every once in a while the backlight will come on when I hit the power button then turn right off again. I sometimes get a blip of the lock screen. Hitting power again brings it right up. Not sure if it's iOS 5 or my phone yet.
For me, iOS 5 was worth the update for the custom alert tones alone. The rest is just frosting. I will get use from most of these features. I'll consider updating when my 3Gs slows down enough to be annoying or the updates stop applying to it or the battery gives out - whichever comes first.
UPDATE 10/29/2011: I have noticed that the battery life on my 3Gs has been affected to a slight degree but I am also having difficulty with memory usage. Self-contained programs seem to have no difficulty but those that rely on a wireless or 3G connection to operate will sometimes sit there and spin trying to download. It's not crippling but I find myself using an app to clear the inactive memory a lot.