iOS 8 Review: Apple’s Modern Mobile OS Yet

iOS 8_iPhone 6

Its been less than a year since Apple made a big change in it’s mobile operating system with iOS 7and now it”s calling iOS 8 biggest update ever. Although it may  not look like it on the surface,there are several changes here to justify that claim. iOS 8 presents a big change for Apple and finally becoming a modern operating system. This is the iOS 8 review.

Although it may  not look like it on the surface, there are several changes here to justify that claim. iOS 8 presents a big change for Apple and finally becoming a modern operating system. In usual Apple tradition since its the sole maker of the iPhone, be assured your current iPhone or iPad is due for this upgrade but be prepared for the memory requirements it will hit on you. If you have used iOS 7, iOS 8 is going to feel instantly recognizable and comfortable, in fact you have to dig deep into iOS 8 to look for the differences between the two.
Unlike last year”s complete visual overhaul, iOS 8 is a refinement with a few actual visual changes.
There is a new recent contact picker when you open the multitasking menu. Notification shade has shrunk from the confusing three tabs to a much more logical two and the animations are ever so slightly faster than before.

iOS 8_iPhone 6

Notifications re-worked

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The notification shade has shrunk from the confusing three tabs to a much more logical two and the animations are ever so slightly faster than before. Lets dive right in for more. You can also respond to notifications right from the notifications center and apps can insert widgets of their own right in there too. But iOS 8 looks and feels just like iOS 7. No body upgrading from one to the other is going to be completely lost. Apple global search feature Spotlight has been  updated to provide results from News sources, Wikipedia, iTunes, Maps and more obviously based on your location and other pieces of context.
This is what universal searching on an iPhone should have always been.

Messaging and Health

iMessage is now more like snapchat and other hot messaging apps of today with Audio clips, video messaging and location sharing. Look at it like Apple has made a WhatsApp app of it’s own. You can finally manage group messages, you can also silence noisy friends or leave an annoying group chat that never seems to end. But I must admit I did run through some issues getting this to work on my end.
iOS 8’s new health app acts as a central hub for all your personal health data whether it comes from a connected scale, your Fitbit or heart rate monitor or the iPhone’s in built step tracking. It’s a more comprehensive look at all the quantified life statistics you might track these days than other platforms have done. And it lets third-party apps share their data with it, but without third-party apps supplying data Health doesn’t do much right now buts trust me it’s going to be a real big deal when Apple releases their SmartWatch next year.

iOS 8_health
iOS 8 Health App with Step tracking

Safari opens up a bit

Apple”s Safari browser has been upgraded with a new desktop mode — something Android has had for ages , and the ability to send links to other apps. Now you can save a web page to Evernote, without really leaving Safari. One thing I must admit is that it’s a really fast browser and a great mobile experience and our very own techjaja website looks gorgeous on it. But you still cant set another browser as a default browser in iOS 8 which is kind of frustrating.

3rd Party Apps Go Skin Deep

Apple has upgraded the virtual keyboard with next word suggestions which appear above the keyboard as you type. They are pretty good but not as quit as early predictive as apps like Swiftkey.
Which brings me to my next obvious point. iOS 8 now lets you install other third-party keyboards. So if you really want Swiftkey’s crazy smart predictions or Swype’s useful tracing features all you have to do is to download them from the App store.
And, yes I have to mention that Android has had this capability for years and this definitely a welcome first for iOS.

iOS 8_widgets
iOS 8 Widgets in notification

As I said before Apps can now build widgets into the notification center, so you can get data like a prediction from yahoo weather, or the latest headlines from your favorite news source app all without open the respective apps.
Widgets can either be super useful like Evernotes’which lets you create note right away from the notification panel or kind of pointless like dropbox. But thankfully all these apps are disabled by default, so you can pick and choose which widgets you want to display.

Third-party apps can now talk to each other in more ways than ever. You can do things like share pictures and send data from one app to another. I was able to save articles from Pocket or Instapaper right from my news source app without the hustle of copying and pasting from one app to another. But like messages I found this to be a bit unreliable at least for now. Photos can now be edited with third-party apps right from the main camera-roll. It takes more taps to get out the editing tools to common use, but it’s still more convenient from having to switch around apps. Again Android users
must be dying of laughter as they read this with expressions like “Serioulsy? That’s new for Apple users?” and you really can’t blame them, this is entirely new for the iOS world.

Continuity unleashed

At WWDC early this year, Apple promised us a feature called continuity, and now iOS 8 now ushers in that great link between your iPhone, iPad and your MAC desktop. Once OS 10 Yosmite launches sometime later this year, you will be able to answer incoming calls,  reply to text messages and do more right from your desktop. But right now since the iPad and iPhone have iOS 8, you can answer calls on your iPad meant to be received on your iPhone. This new hand-off feature lets you start something on one device pick-up where you left off in another. Whether that composing an email or browsing a web page or even reading an article in a third-party app like pocket. Continuity makes very thing in your life more cohesive and connected of course if you fully bought into Apple”s world. But I guess we have to wait till later in the year to see the full benefits of it.