iOS 8 Review: Features You Need to Know

We are reviewing iOS 8 after a couple of weeks since the date of its release. The latest version of iOS is a continuation to new redesign that was first introduced in 2013 with the launch of iOS 7. The iOS 8 also resembles its ancestor in terms of appearance but every new version of iOS gives a list of features to make user experience better than previous versions. Also with the introduction of new iOS, there is always an addition of at least one new device or more. This time Apple has released iPhone 6 plus and iPhone 6 with iOS 8.

iOS 8 Review

Apple iOS 8 contains much newer features than expected. Maybe the new third-party keyboard, camera controls, new health app (for specific devices only), home automation and many functional tools. Anything which is more than your expectations is definitely welcomed by all users and same is the case with iOS 8.

Compatibility

iOS 8 can only be installed on Apple iPhone 4S and later models. Time to say good-bye to iPhone 4 and below models if you wish to use iOS 8. Similarly iOS 8 can also be enjoyed on iPod Touch 5G, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad Mini 2. There are some features that are not compatible with some devices like, health app has no iPad support.

iOS 8 Keyboards

iOS 8 Keyboard

At last we have built-in hot swappable keyboards in iOS 8. This feature now resembles with Android predictive text option by adding three words on the top of keyboard to increase the typing speed. The predictions are based on the existing content which further adds to the beauty of writing. For users who do not like these predictions, can easily remove from the top of keyboard and save up the screen space. Alternative keyboards are installed from the App Store like any other third-party application, and clumsily activated in the Settings application. To switch between them use globe button on the keyboard. Interchangeable keyboards have allowed the most ambitious product to finally make sense in iOS, such as text-expansion utility TextExpander. Previously third-party apps were not allowed by Apple due to security concerns related to passwords etc but this addition apparently seems to be a compromise.

Family Sharing

family sharing

Family sharing is another great feature added in iOS 8 which may ask you to buy some more space from iCloud. Now there will be no hassle of sharing passwords in a sneaky way instead you have the option to share purchased applications, books etc within six family members easily. Family Sharing includes collaborative photo albums, calendars, optional locating sharing and much more. Parental control is bit more effective with ‘Ask to Buy’ feature before an attempt to is made to buy expensive app from App Store so now you can relax while handing over the phone to kids for some entertainment.

Health App

health app ios 8

Health related apps are also in fashion, keeping in view their utilization, health kit in the shape of built-in health app is also added in iOS 8. Health App from iOS 8 cannot be deleted even if you don’t like it, otherwise it is a comprehensive app. Without using it appears to be a boring icon on your iPhone. When you start exercising, walking or jogging around this app starts logging your stats to keep you informed about activities. In the dashboard of health app you can add your own personal health details, track your calories burned, monitor heart rate and more. You can even count the number of calories you have burnt in a day by keeping the record of walk / run with the help of new M8 chip in iPhone 6. Some special kits like fitness bands and heart rate monitors are required to make full use of health app. In times to come we expect to see gadgets with improved sensing devices to support health related apps.

Camera

camera app ios 8

Camera app provides smart editing tools that can adjust light and color with just a swipe. Apple has open APIs to developers so that applications can control all kinds of details of the camera, including exposure time, white balance and focus. Filters can be embedded (via extensions) in the Photos application, where non destructive changes can be done – means, the original photo remains in its library, while takes place separately. The most prominent addition when using the camera app is the new exposure control that is a yellow sun icon around the focus square, which you can slide up or down. The other addition, to go with the Panorama, Square, and Video functions on older phones is Time Lapse, that can create a time-lapse film at 1/30th normal speed. The new improved camera app is also added with a timer function, that is useful for selfie photography which is trending high since last couple of years.

Siri

siri ios 8

Siri was first introduced with the launch of iPhone 4S along with iOS 5. Devices iPhone 4 and below could not enjoy this add-on. with the passage of each update from Apple operating system every year the Siri feature has improved gradually. Hence with the release of iOS 8, some new features within the Siri were also expected and Apple has come up to its expectations. In our point of view, Siri for iOS 8 has unfortunately not received expected improvement this year but some people like this one as well. Now there is no need to touch the device in order to activate Siri in iOS 8. All you need to say is “Hey Siri” and there you go, Siri is activated….but wait there is a catch in this development. You cannot activate Siri by voice only if the device is not plugged into power. According to Apple, this has been done to save power. Siri’s auto response by your voice feature, gets activated only when the device is plugged-in for charging or connected with laptop / external power source as it consumes a lot of battery power. In case there are other iPhone users with iOS 8 around you with Siri feature activated, plugged in for charging, they will also wake up!

Due to this problem the usefulness of device becomes less but it seems that in times to come with future iOS updates, likely Apple is going to remove this limitation.

Send Last Location

send last location

Existing iPhone users must be conversant with Find My iPhone by using which the device could be locked with a password by erasing all data on it. Find my iPhone feature can be activated if you think your iPhone is stolen or it has been lost completely. Send last location is another new improved version of Find my iPhone. At times it happens that you lose your phone inside your car, office, home or at friend’s place which you may find after sometime. Instead of erasing all data on it you can wait to find it as iPhone will send its last location to your iCloud account when the battery is critically low. In case you come to know that iPhone was at a safe place, you may relax, instead if you think it’s stolen or at unknown place you can erase all data using Find My iPhone.

Messaging

messaging app ios 8

With all other apps, default messaging has also shown some apparent positive changes. You can send voice messages or pictures by pressing microphone or camera button within the messages. The downside of this feature is that you cannot edit or discard the picture or voice message as it is sent automatically without letting you edit. As a result if the picture is not of a good quality, you will also come to know about the image result after it is dispatched. If you want to make use of this feature, you really need to be careful as there is no way back. This reminds me of WhatsApp camera in many Android devices in which once the picture is taken from camera button within the application, it will be sent to the next user without asking permission. Likely in further updates coming in future Apple may take notice of this small problem.

Spotlight

spotlight search

Spotlight can now search nearby places, movies, news, Wikipedia, iTunes, App Store, and iBooks. Relevant information from Wikipedia, IMDb, and other sources provide. For example, type the name of a band and get a link to the artist in iTunes, one album and the Wikipedia entry. Type in an application, service or name of the game and is likely to get the App Store link. You can also search terms listed below or relevant websites listed. Although many of the results, that channel directly to Apple store itself may get you the name with phone number immediately of restaurant including location, whatever is written in search.

Notifications

Notifications ios 8

Like all others, notifications of iOS 8 have also got something to change with little improvement. Now the notification panel has been divided into two main tabs named, Today and Missed. Definitely if you are someone like me who misses unimportant notifications pending them to weekend, better tab for you will be of Today. Just give it a couple of seconds and you’ll come to know what’s new over there important. Swipe away the undesired notifications to the left side from the notification center to clear them. Now there is no need to open particular app to reply the notification instead just pull down the notification for a quick reply. Now you don’t need to Jailbreak your device in order to get third-party app notifications like third-party mail, Evernote, Yahoo weather, Widgets and many more.

Widgets

Widgets ios 8

Finally this time Apple has opened up their eyes to see what users are asking for since long. Door for third-party widgets has been opened therefore now you can have any kind of widget you want on iOS 8 platform. Adding a widget, moving it from one place to another and completely removing them is very simple. I must say here that most important change took place for iOS 8 is in the department of widgets. Third party apps are very important so that users keep playing with their devices and also add up a little bit customization without trouble. Apple is still not used to have third-party widgets on App Store but with the passage of time, things will move in a better direction. In iOS 8 default weather widget takes weather information from Weather Underground instead of Yahoo Weather. Weather is also shown not only as text but weather icon is also shown.

Settings Menu

Settings Menu

Settings menu is huge in iOS 8 with lot of new features added to it. After reaching inside the settings area first thing you’ll notice is battery usage with two tabs. From here the information of battery usage in last 24 hours or even last seven days can be obtained. This is again very useful because it tells you which app is consuming more battery power. Icons of all those apps which are connected to internet are green colored inside the settings menu. Another great new feature is that from settings menu you can block  internet data for a specific application. If you need to use twitter but don’t want access to Facebook, this feature will definitely help you. I mostly felt that this was one of the most wanted this feature especially when not on WiFi.

Performance

With the passage of less than a month Apple has rolled out two updates which raises serious security and stability concerns for the developers, critics and users. But as the updates are rolled it means company is awake and doing a positive job. After the launch of new iOS, we have seen in the past also that Apple rolls many new updates. Many users who have upgraded their existing iPhone devices to iOS 8 are complaining about excessive battery drain issues. Some people who were satisfied with iOS 7 have shown their interest to downgrade their devices to previous condition. Initially some complaints about crashing of setting app, dropped frames, slow speed, delayed response of lock screen etc were reported by users all over the World on Apple support forum.

Final Verdict

Last year Apple changed complete interface with the launch of iOS 7. Definitely this is not the case now but change is always good. Despite less but still there is lot many changes which one can say are acceptable. Introduction of third-party to iOS 8 is a great breakthrough. Although still Apple seems to have security concerns over it but it looks like that things will become better in times to come. If you are confused, in our verdict go ahead for new version of iOS, instead of getting bored with the existing one. Don’t be afraid of bugs, they will be gone with the passage of time.

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Apple, Features, firmware, iOS 8, Review

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