iOS 5: Newsstand

Along with many other changes, iOS 5 (s aapl) ushers in Newsstand, Apple’s centralized hub for dealing with subscription-based digital newspapers and magazines. Many existing iOS apps already support Newsstand, so you may already have noticed it at work.

The first thing you’ll notice about Newsstand is that it takes your iOS subscription apps and removes their icons from your home screen — instead, Newsstand compatible apps appear as issues lined up on a shelf when you tap open the Newsstand app itself. Each issue will display the most recently released cover, so you can tell at a glance if there’s something new.

Newsstand also contains a link to a dedicated digital periodicals section of the App Store, where you can browse titles and add to your subscription list. At first glance, it looks like a lot of Apple’s magazine publishing partners have signed on for Newsstand.

In the Store section of your iOS device’s Settings app, there’s also a new section allowing you to choose whether or not to automatically download new content from your Newsstand subscriptions when connected via Wi-Fi. Since issues can sometimes take quite a while to download, this is a very welcome new feature.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while you can’t delete the Newsstand app from your home screen, or put it into a folder, you can delete subscription apps contained within simply by holding the cover images until they wobble. Apps in the holder work the same as they did when they were located on the home screen as icons.

I’m glad to have all these titles centrally located, with auto-updating content and covers, since it more accurately mimics the act of actually browsing magazines at the store. Also, I like having them all together, because that’s how I tend to digest my periodicals anyway: all at once in long sessions. Do you like Newsstand, or did you prefer things the way they were?