I think it’s safe to say that iOS 5 is the greatest single-year leap in Apple’s mobile OS, not least of which is due to iCloud integration. That said, amongst the bevy of new features, I’ve come to appreciate a few that have more-or-less flown under the radar.

  • Group by Album Artist

    For far too long, the iPod app on the iPhone has actually been inferior to an actual separate iPod. Why? Because the artists list was cluttered with every artist from every song in your collection.

    On the contrary, iTunes on your computer will only show you album artists (as it should). For example, if you have a movie soundtrack – do you want it to show up once as “Various Artists” or “Soundtrack” in your artists, or do you want 15 different entries for all of the random singers that you don’t know or care about? Now, thankfully, the iOS Music app can be set to only show you album artists.

    It’s never too late to get something right. Find it at Settings > Music > Group By Album Artist.

  • Storage by App

    If you’re anything like me, you constantly use up the space on your phone. Fortunately, iOS 5 now makes it easy to identify the space-filling hogs in your app collection. Even better, you can delete them directly from the same place.

    Just go to Settings > General > Usage and delete away.

  • Notification Alert Style / Badge App Icon

    The new Notification Center not only replaces modal notifications, it also introduces modular notification settings. That is, you can select notifications in the form of alerts or badges, or even disable them entirely, per app.

    iOS 5 also now lets you completely hide the badges on apps. This is especially useful for apps like Google Voice or Appshopper, where you want to see an immediate alert when something happens, but don’t much care to go through old messages you have already read on your computer.

  • LED Flash for Alerts

    I’ve been known not to respond to text messages for hours, if not days. Why? I missed the notification. While the new Notification Center will certainly help, Apple has also added another nifty feature so you can be hyper-aware of any new notifications demanding your attention.

    Find it at Settings > General > Accessibility > LED Flash for Alerts. Now silent night owls have no excuse for missing notifications.

  • Wi-Fi Sync

    Wi-Fi Sync is blissful. Imagine never needing a cord to your computer again. Instead of needing two wires, one plugged into the wall near your bed for charging and one plugged into your computer for syncing, you only need one now.

    Even better, you can use the phone while syncing now.

All in all, I’m very happy with iOS 5.