iOS 8: not such a big deal?

iOS 8: not such a big deal?It’s that time of year once again. The latest version of Apple’s smartphone operating system, iOS 8, is now a reality for owners of the iPhone 4S and above, iPad 2 and above, and the fifth-gen iPod touch. And with Apple boldly claiming that it’s the “The biggest iOS release ever”, there’s plenty to talk about, right? Right?

Well, I had intended putting together a Top X features of iOS 8 type article, but, after some quiet contemplation, figured I’d spend a few moments instead suggesting that it’s maybe not such a big deal after all.

Cast your minds back to this time last year, and you’ll remember that iOS 7 proved hugely divisive – almost unsettling for some who were stuck in their iOS 6 ways.

See, iOS 7 introduced a new, clean, “flat” design, with controversially revamped icons, and oodles of fancy new features: Control Center with toggles for functions like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (I use the flashlight toggle every night when I'm going to bed), multitasking with preview windows, access to Notification Center from the lock screen… It genuinely was the biggest change in iOS since it first raised its head in 2007.

So again, when Apple says iOS 8 is “The biggest iOS release ever”, we’d surely be forgiven for expecting big changes. Why, then, am I sitting looking at iOS 8 wondering: ‘Eh, what’s new here?’

Indeed, if I hadn’t applied the update myself, if someone else had sneakily installed it on my behalf, there’s very little that would’ve made me think: ‘What’s going on here?! WHAT AM I LOOKING AT?!’

But wait! Here comes Apple with a guided tour of what’s new in iOS 8. Let’s check it out.

1. Quickly respond to a notification. Fair enough, that means you don’t have to leave the app you’re in to send a reply. Good.

2. Send an audio message. You mean, like, break a conversation up into lots of tiny little parts? I’m not convinced this will be of much use in everyday life, and there’s the obvious concern of looking like a knob – quite frankly – if you’re sitting sending audio messages on the train, for example. A bit like voice search, essentially.

3. Quickly manage your mail. This pertains to new options when you swipe left or right in the inbox, but for me, the big change in iOS 8 Mail is the ability to shove a draft down to the bottom of the screen while you navigate through your mail – that’s without having to banish your composition to drafts. Just tap to restore it. Lovely.

4. Siri knows the tune. Shazam.

5. Get reply notifications. Again, I’m not sure how much I’ll use this, but I can accept it might be quite handy if you’re waiting for a reply to a particularly important email. Maybe more of an enterprise feature?

6. Reach your favourite people. Double tap the Home button to see recent contacts. From there you can tap on a contact then tap on a method of communication. It’s arguably quicker just to go straight into Messages or Phone, but I like how Apple is using that formerly free space in the multitasking screen.

7. See when a message was sent. (By dragging message bubbles to the left). We could do that in iOS 7, you cheeky devils. Nice of Apple to point out the functionality though. A lot of people seemingly weren’t aware it existed.

8. Share it with the family. My mates are eager to get onboard with my iTunes account so they can share all the apps I get review codes for. I’m surprised that this functionality exists (how does Apple benefit?), and that it’s so open, but no complaints here.

9. Take selfies on a timer. Selfies, bleurgh. Always good being able to take timed shots though. Oh, and this works with the rear camera, too.

10. Quickly type internet addresses. Hold full stop for shortcuts to .co.uk and .com and stuff. The main keyboard is of more interest, with suggested/predicted words already proving helpful.

Yeah, so, iOS 8 isn’t that big a deal, but while nothing really screams “THIS IS NEW!” (other than the keyboard), there are – admittedly – useful features here and there.

Maybe I’ll revisit iOS 8 once I’ve spent a few weeks with it. In the meantime, if you’ve any thoughts – good or bad, feel free to let us know below.

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18 comments

CTPAHHIK  Sep. 25, 2014 at 13:48

Wasn't aware and didn't notice most of them.

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 25, 2014 at 14:02

Siri knows the tune means you do NOT need Shazam et al. An app less!
Camera got new features - with extras in 5S...
Massive privacy and security improvements etc etc
Not saying it's awesome, but there's a lot going on especially under the hood.

The flat design that came with iOS7 makes sense now, too: with the big devices out now it was essential to make rescaling of apps painless. It is much easier with the flat design than the skeuomorphic stuff before.
You also forgot the keyboard btw...

lcurdie / MOD  Sep. 25, 2014 at 16:43

Except when I mentioned the keyboard ;)

I'm mostly ok with it, but I sometimes find random words appearing in the middle of sentences.

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 25, 2014 at 18:08

No way did you mention the k.....

B1zarr0Prim3  Sep. 26, 2014 at 11:23

Siri knows the tune. WP had that built in to begin with.
The only thing I do like the sound of is point number 1. Though I expect that to make it to other mobile OSes in the future.

kitechker  Sep. 26, 2014 at 12:00

Feature 1 is already on my LG G2 and most of the others are already on android. Had the iPhone 4 for a couple of years when it first released. Been on android since 2012 and both OSes are just adding in each other's features every update and making it look like they invented this cool feature. It's a matter of opinion but iOS is simple and great to use can't beat it on with regards to iPads/tablets but on a phone its a bit boring

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 26, 2014 at 13:36

's true... both borrow from each other and have built upon other ppl's ideas to begin with.

CTPAHHIK  Sep. 26, 2014 at 16:24

Halo on Android been around for over a year
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5WljHcOyXs

I'm using both iOS 8 and Carbon ROM in parallel.
iOS 8 major pluses:
- Ability to backup to iCloud for everything
- Easy way to control app privacy (location access, data, contacts, etc.)

iOS 8 Major minuses:
- Terrible Keyboard
- Inability to share content between apps

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 26, 2014 at 18:58

Halo on Android been around for over a year
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5WljHcOyXs

I'm using both iOS 8 and Carbon ROM in parallel.
iOS 8 major pluses:
- Ability to backup to iCloud for everything
- Easy way to control app privacy (location access, data, contacts, etc.)

iOS 8 Major minuses:
- Terrible Keyboard
- Inability to share content between apps


Agree on all points except for the keyboard. WP & iOS & BB take ANY Android keyboard on ANY Android device. Wipe the floor with them, and ... um... wipe some more.
I find carving in stone more pleasant than writing on an Android phone. :p

kitechker  Sep. 27, 2014 at 09:09

'Carving in stone' is a bit harsh I think. That's how I feel when I write a paragraph of text on an iPhone/iPad compared to writing the same text with the stock google keyboard with gesture typing. Its so much more fluid for me. I'm a big fan of gesture typing and would like it on my iPad so just waiting for the feature to be available on iOS and apple calling it a 'groundbreaking' feature!

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 27, 2014 at 09:44

'Carving in stone' is a bit harsh I think. That's how I feel when I write a paragraph of text on an iPhone/iPad compared to writing the same text with the stock google keyboard with gesture typing. Its so much more fluid for me. I'm a big fan of gesture typing and would like it on my iPad so just waiting for the feature to be available on iOS and apple calling it a 'groundbreaking' feature!

Guess it boils down to taste, really. There's no 'best'. I use my phone a lot on the go - with one hand. For that swipe gestures suck, imho. Prefer the accuracy and no bull of WP and iOS keyboards. And I admit: I cannot describe what exactly it is, but I DO find Android truly horrible for typing. Even back in the Desire, legend and original Galaxy days when I still thought Android was great.... Typing? No :p

Potato - po taaa to... People have different preferences.

kitechker  Sep. 27, 2014 at 10:39

'Carving in stone' is a bit harsh I think. That's how I feel when I write a paragraph of text on an iPhone/iPad compared to writing the same text with the stock google keyboard with gesture typing. Its so much more fluid for me. I'm a big fan of gesture typing and would like it on my iPad so just waiting for the feature to be available on iOS and apple calling it a 'groundbreaking' feature!

CTPAHHIK  Sep. 29, 2014 at 09:10


Agree on all points except for the keyboard. WP & iOS & BB take ANY Android keyboard on ANY Android device. Wipe the floor with them, and ... um... wipe some more.
I find carving in stone more pleasant than writing on an Android phone. :p


There is such thing as SwiftKey that allows you to rearrange layout to your desire. You can even setup phonetic keyboards for non-latin languages. What can you do with iPhone? Absolutely nothing. SwiftKey on iOS simply changes keyboard theme.
Why is there a need to press an extra button to type a number, comma, dot, special character, etc?
Where is word and sentence completion? Where is automatic punctuation? Where is name correction?

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 29, 2014 at 09:49


Agree on all points except for the keyboard. WP & iOS & BB take ANY Android keyboard on ANY Android device. Wipe the floor with them, and ... um... wipe some more.
I find carving in stone more pleasant than writing on an Android phone. :p


There is such thing as SwiftKey that allows you to rearrange layout to your desire. You can even setup phonetic keyboards for non-latin languages. What can you do with iPhone? Absolutely nothing. SwiftKey on iOS simply changes keyboard theme.
Why is there a need to press an extra button to type a number, comma, dot, special character, etc?
Where is word and sentence completion? Where is automatic punctuation? Where is name correction?


I know SwiftKey and about 2 dozen other keyboards. It isn't the keyboards, their layouts or features. It IS Android. There is something incredibly 'wobbly' about typing on Android. It feels as though there's a layer of oil on the screen. Maybe thus the name 'project butter'?

I'm not saying this to be a smartie-pant Android-disser. I really find it utterly unpleasant to type on Android, to swype on Android. It's across all makes, Actually, it used to be better on cr*ppy low-end devices with resistive ts displays. Weird? Maybe. But I know I'm not alone. When I use Android for a few days - currently, e.g., the M8, and I then go back to iOS or WP or BB 10, it's like I suddenly have a real keyboard. Maybe it's my brain? I know: hundreds of million of people do not have that issue. Or maybe they do? Why else would there be dozens of 3rd party keyboards that make big bucks? Apparently loads and loads of users search for THAT good keyboard?

I know some Android phones let you adjust screen touch sensitivity - I forgot what model it was I used last year - I think a Z. It was a little more bearable. But maybe it was just Sony's sticky screen protector? :D

But thank you for the advice :)

B1zarr0Prim3  Sep. 29, 2014 at 09:54

My wife has had Android phones dating back to the G1. Recent phones have included the Galaxy S2, S4 and Xperia Z1 Compact. Typing has felt awkward on all of them. They don't come close to the fluidity of the keyboard in WP8.1 on my L920.

CTPAHHIK  Sep. 29, 2014 at 12:37

Ahh, I know what you mean. This is not keyboard issue. Typing on Android feels as if you are using screen protector - I don't know how else to describe it.
This is not specific to typing, pretty much anything that requires (games, apps, etc.) high precision and fast response feels unnatural. Obviously, it's not noticeable unless you are using two phones in parallel.
I thought you are talking about keyboard.

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 29, 2014 at 14:54

No, not a specific keyboard. And yes: snapseed, and app owned by Google is much better on iOS. It's almost impossible on Android to use it with any precision.

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 29, 2014 at 14:55

Bizarro,
yep - WP8.1 is probably the best for typing. I'd imagine the iPhone 6 is okay too. BB Z10 is good, too.

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