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iOS 5: Home screen pinch is back, custom gestures spotted

We’re discovering some very interesting and little advertised new features following yesterday’s unveiling of Apple’s iOS 5 software. For instance, did you know there will be a little setting allowing you to tell your iPhone to blink its LED flash on incoming calls and alerts? We’ve also learned about brand new AssistiveTouch section in Settings where you can control your multi-touch experience and even draw custom gestures. Plus, the four-finger pinch gesture that mimics the functionality of the home button? It’s back!

It originally appeared in the first beta of iOS 4.3, but was disabled in subsequent releases for unknown reasons. This has been a jailbreaker’s favorite tweak ever since and especially popular on iPad, where pinching with four fingers on its large display to get to the home screen works much better than on the iPhone. Even though Steve Jobs made no mention of it during the keynote talk, Apple’s iOS 5 promotional video (see below) shows the home screen pinch in action (mark 0:28 and 5:43). What about custom gestures?

Reader Drew sent in screenshots below depicting a new section inside the Settings app, dedicated to touch-related assistive technologies. For starters, you can now use iPhone with adaptive accessories and control touch responsiveness using a slider. You can also use a horizontal zig-zag motion to open the menu with touch settings and even draw your own custom gesture to replace the zig-zag motion. Even though this is just scratching the surface compared to the wealth of customizable multitouch gestures available system-wide on jailbroken devices, it’s a nice feeling knowing Apple is continuing to perfect multitouch on iOS devices and adding more gestures into the mix. By the way, the home screen pinch is exactly the same gesture Lion requires to take you to your desktop. Yup, consistency rules.

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