I feel like I should start this post off with a quick background/disclaimer. For the last few weeks, I have been seriously considering switching from my iPhone 5 to an HTC One M8. The One has build quality that can only be compared to the iPhone, but the software on Android just seemed to offer features that had yet to be seen on iOS. However, after the announcement I’m definitely holding out for the iPhone 6. But with that aside, let’s get to the new software!
First of all, this update is way bigger and includes way more features than I expected. And I realized that through playing with the software, it really is the simple feature changes that make this version of iOS that much more enjoyable. For example, including an instant reply feature in the notification for things like the Messages app makes it so much easier, because now you never have to leave the app you were using, you can simply reply from the notification bar (yes, I texted myself for this screenshot, and yes it is awkward). I’ve used this feature way more than I thought I would, and it has actually made my iOS experience significantly better.
Next, one of the other cool features included is the new “Hey Siri” command. While this feature is only available while your device is plugged in, I can definitely see how it could be useful if you’re in the car using your phone for navigation, or if your phone is across the room and you’re simply too lazy to get up to set your alarm.
Another nifty and not often talked about feature is the update given to Spotlight, the search bar that shows up when you drag down on the home screen. Apple has integrated the App Store, Wikipedia, and a ton of other sources to give you quick information without even having to hit search and open Safari. It’s really handy, and a feature that I feel like I’ll end up using a lot.
I also really like the idea behind the Health app. While there isn’t a lot that can be done yet, because it depends on developers integrating HeathKit, I have already set up my “Medical ID” and I like that I can add an emergency contact number, which can also be accessed from the lock screen without having to enter a passcode, which could come in handy in an emergency.
Another handy feature is the recent contact circles in multitasking. If you tap on the contact’s image (or initials circle as is the case on my phone since I hardly have any contact images) you get the option to either call, text or FaceTime that contact, which makes it really easy to stay in contact with people you talk to often.
The last two major features that excited me about the announcement are unfortunately two that I haven’t been able to try out yet, since they require developer support and iOS 8 is so new, but they’re still awesome and will make the iPhone 6 that much better. First, third party keyboards will be a much needed addition to iOS. I’m not a very good typer on my phone to begin with, but the iOS keyboard didn’t help me out very much. The text prediction wasn’t as intuitive as other keyboards and the keyboard had remained basically the same over the years. Finally, by allowing third party keyboards, Apple is allowing consumers to choose their own keyboard and customize their device and make it better for each user.
Finally, one of the most obviously “borrowed” feature from iOS comes in the form of widgets. While they aren’t quite as handy as Android widgets, since they aren’t on the home screen, being able to see the score of your favorite team’s game without opening an app is still pretty handy. This is another feature I’m actually really excited about because there are a ton of apps that could take advantage of this feature, and do it well.
While there were many other awesome features available on iOS 8, I unfortunately haven’t been able to test them all out yet because it’s been a short time since the release, and some of the features require developers to include features in their own apps, which obviously hasn’t happened quite yet. Be sure to stay tuned to our site as we continue to cover all news surrounding iOS 8, and be sure to drop your comments or thoughts below!