29 Sep 2014

iOS 8 : What it is and what's missing


Apple has recently pushed out the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 8. This was unveiled on the WWDC 2014 and was pushed out as an OTA (Over The Air) update to the compatible devices. This update has a lot of new features and also lacks certain tricks that might have given it an edge over Android. Here we explore what all it has as well as what was missing in it to make it a better operating system.

Design and tweaks

iOS 8 Widgets

It is an update that bears minimal visual changes as compared to its predecessor, iOS 7. It bears the same flat and minimalistic look but has some changes. An ability to add widgets to the status bar has been added. The "All" and "Missed" columns of the status bar have been removed and a new "Notifications" column, which does the work of the other two columns, has been added. The Assistive touch menu now has links to access Siri, Control center and the notification panel as well added to the previous links. The multitasking screen now has your recent and most called or messaged contacts to get in touch quickly. Also, Apple has launched a system of what they call "Interactive Notifications" which is a Heads-Up notification with which you can interact. For example, if you have a new email, a notification saying so will pop up on the top of the screen, and you can send a reply mail then and there. The email app also has a few tweaks. You can swipe an email left or right for numerous options pertaining to that mail. Also, good news for those who use Safari on their iPad often, the "Tab View" has now come to iPad as well. Also Safari now has a sidebar for bookmarks, reading list and shared links.
The photos app was improved. The ability to search inside the app was added. You now have the option to edit photos inside the app itself: Apple's effort to ditch third party photos app. The editing tools are good but however, a professional photo editor might stick to the third party apps like Photoshop.
You can now send voice messages in the iMessages app. This is an emerging trend as popular apps like WhatsApp and Viber have been offering this service as well. You can also record videos and capture photos and send them instantly as well.

Online Services and integration

Apple has made a huge deal of promoting its cloud storage facility, iCloud drive, which functions similar to Google’s Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive. However, this has a few disadvantages compared to the other services, the first of them being that it offers only 5GB of free storage compared to the 15GB of OneDrive and Google Drive. The second thing is if you are an OS X Mavericks user or your OS X version is lower: it won't work in your system. This is also the case with iOS 7. Also, you will need to switch to iCloud drive from iCloud, thus rendering iCloud unusable as well if you are using an incompatible system.
Apple has also announced something called "Family Sharing" which allows a family (who all have iDevices) to share movies, books photos, calendar events etc.
Apple has now integrated all iDevices so closely that you can now accept calls or texts from you iPhone in your iPad or Mac seamlessly. This feature has been named aptly as "Continuity".

Spotlight and Siri

Apple's Spotlight search now shows results from Wikipedia and also uses your location to give you location based results : a feature which google had for a long time now. It also shows you App Store results, related websites and other information.
Siri also has new functionality added, with it now being able to recognize songs using Shazam and also the voice recognition has been improved, but other than that, there are no such apparent changes.

Health and Keyboards

Apple, following Samsung's lead, has launched a dedicated Health app which has a large number of features to satisfy an unsatisfied Samsung user. You can now check all your health details, but as to how far they are correct has to be tested by us. You can now create an emergency medical card to be displayed on the lock screen in case of any emergency. Also, the health app lets you share details which you want to share with other users such as doctors to make it simple.
iOS 8 now has support for third party keyboards. (In order to know how to set them up, you can click here) This is a much awaited feature as android users have had this features which gave typing added functionality for a very long time. This has ended
Apple's long policy of "End to end Integration" in this field. Third party keyboards like Swype, SwiftKey and Fleksy have now appeared in the app store.
Apple also has added a new prediction system that is quite effective, compared to the previous AutoCorrect feature. It provides you intelligent options for word completion and is quite useful in typing out quick responses.

Performance in the hands of the user

The features in iOS 8 might seem inviting, but surprisingly, the operating system gets stuck and is prone to drops in calls, something which we have not seen before. Due to this, Apple has rolled out 8.0.1 which was followed by iOS 8.0.2, if you have seen our brief description of it here.

What's Missing

iOS 8 might be good, but its not great. It lags and drops frames sometimes, something we have definitely not seen before. 
Siri might have added functionalities, but it doesn't do as well as Google Now in voice tests or normal daily use.
The App Store still requires an internet connection, unlike in Android where you can download apks and install them directly from your phone.
We wish you could longpress the toggles in Control Center to go to that setting but, unfortunately, that is also one thing apple should think about.
But the most annoying thing is that after all these years, Apple devices can only connect with other Apple devices via Bluetooth. Apple, why can't you introduce support for bluetooth with devices that are not manufactured by you? All the devices we own are not iDevices, right!
There is also the fact that Apple has again failed to bring a proper file management system for its OS. You need to have iTunes to even use it properly! Thankfully, Cloud Storage facilities like One Drive and Google Drive are providing a way to seamlessly integrate our devices.

The conclusion

iOS 8 provides you nifty little tricks at the cost of call drops and other inconveniences. Apple still has a long way to go for satisfying consumers with the latest version of its mobile Operating Platform
This article was written by Vignesh Shankar, another admin at Techist.net, for queries please email him at vignesh@techist.net 


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