This means that you can start developing your apps in APEX 5.1 from now on. Unlike the early adopter releases (apexea.oracle.com) you can develop your apps on apex.oracle.com and later export them and import in your own environment once the on-premise version of APEX 5.1 is available.
APEX 5.1 is again a major update behind the scenes. The page processing is completely different from before; where previously full page reloads were done, now there's much more lightweight traffic and only necessary data is send across.
The big features in this new release are the introduction of Interactive Grids, which is both a successor for Interactive Reports as for Tabular Forms. The other big feature is the integration of Oracle JET, which you see mostly in the data visualisation (charts) part of APEX, but more components will probably follow in future versions. Although those two features addresses the most common issues we previously had (outdated tabular forms and charts), APEX 5.1 brings much more than that. Equally important for me are the "smaller" improvements which makes us even more productive. Below you find some examples...
When creating a new application, the login page is immediately a great looking page:
Previously in APEX 5.0 you had to adapt the login page, see my blog post Pimping the Login Page.
APEX 5.1 has now a template option to display the Pre and Post text as a Block:
Or when you want an icon inside your item, there's an Icon CSS Class option selector which shows the gorgeous looking new handcrafted Font APEX icons:
You could do all the item customisations above in APEX 4.2 or 5.0 too, but it would require custom css and some code, whereas now it's declarative in APEX 5.1.
And there's so much more; ability to switch style by user, new packaged apps, warn on unsaved changes, no reload page on submit etc. features that haven't been talked about much yet, but which before you had to do with a plugin or a lot of custom code and now it's just there.
So those "smaller" features are actually not so small, they are an enormous timesaver and bring your apps in warp-speed to modern and great looking applications.
In the next blog posts I'll go in more detail on some specific features that will gain you at least an hour a day, but in the meantime, embrace APEX 5.1 and start earning those extra hours :)
Update: on December 21th APEX 5.1 was made available to download on OTN.