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iOS 5 features: Mail

Of the many new features in iOS 5, some of the most subtle changes came with the Mail app. iCloud now brings a free email account to anyone who wants to snag one, and that email account is accessible from any device -- Apple or not.

First, text can now be formatted using bold, italic, or underlined. To apply formatting to a word or paragraph, select it using a double-tap, and use the handles to extend or shorten the selection if needed. The standard cut/copy/paste/suggest... menu will be floating over the word, with an arrow pointing to the right. Tap on that arrow, and it reveals a second menu displaying BIU for bold, italic, and underlined. A tap on BIU brings up the individual buttons for Bold, Italics, and Underline.

Next, you can now create indents in your message -- actually what you're doing is changing the quote level. To do this, tap any place in a line to display the select/select all/paste menu. Once again, there will be an arrow pointing to the right. Tap the arrow to reveal a button that says Quote Level. Tap once again to show two buttons, Decrease and Increase, which allow you to increase or decrease the quote level of a specific paragraph.

Addressing messages just became a bit easier as well. You can now drag names around in the address fields. Let's say that I address an email to Doc Rock and Uri Kelman, but decide that I want Doc's name to be in the carbon copy (cc) address field. I can just place my finger on the "bubble" containing his name, then drag it to the cc field.

If you have ever wanted to flag a message so that you know it's important to respond to it, you're in luck. iOS 5 Mail now lets you add flags to those important messages. When looking at an email in the Inbox, you'll see the word Mark in the subject line. With a tap, two buttons appear -- Flag and Mark as Unread. Tap Flag, and a small orange flag appears next to Mark in the subject line.

You can now use Mail on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to create or remove mailbox folders. This could be useful in a situation where you're on the road for work and need to create a new folder for a specific project. This is done through the list of Accounts on the Mailboxes screen.

Search has also been improved in Mail in iOS 5. For the first time, you can search in the body of email messages for a specific word, name, or phrase.

While all these features have been around in Mac OS X and Windows for quite a while, it's nice to see that they're now available for iOS users as well. It's one more bit of polish on an already nice mobile operating system.