iOS 8 has lots of new features and tricks, and it's going to take a while to get through them all. Claimed to be the biggest and best iOS update it certainly took a while to download. Here are my first impressions and already used iOS 8 features.
1. Predictive typing is the bane to many, particularly those who have been used to the easy keying of a Blackberry. Now predictive has gone even further, and iOS 8 will guess the complete word you’re typing before you’ve put in more than a couple of letters. You get three options in the space above the keyboard, click on the one you want and it falls into place. So far this feature has worked very well for me.
You can also change your keyboard to a 3rd party app such as SwiftKey. However there are some privacy issues with these apps as they have access to everything you type including passwords. Apple has improved its keyboard with iOS 8 and so for the time being I’m sticking with that. Be aware that if you give a 3rd party keyboard app full access even if you switch it on and off your information may still be available to the developer.
2. Reaching your most recent contacts: If you’re in a hurry and want to get to the most recent people you’ve contacted just double click the ‘home’ button and the most recent five will appear at the top of your screen, as icons you can then click on.
3. Mailbox – Swipe to the left on an email and you can mark it immediately as read. Swipe right, and you can bin it, flag it or more (such as forward or move to junk). I still wish you had the option to bulk delete emails but that hasn’t happened yet.
4. Audio Messaging. Forget texting – now you can send audio messages as well, just by holding down the microphone icon beside your text box. Then you can play it back and delete if you want to. So the full options are traditional texting, sending photos and now audio messaging.
5. The new health app that now appears can bring together in one place all the information you may use, and you can share it as you see fit with your doctor and others. Most useful of all to me is the Medical ID contained in it which records emergency contacts, conditions such as allergies and anything else you want people to know in an emergency. Essentially it can be accessed without unlocking your phone – ie – in an emergency. To reach it within the lock screen click on Emergency and then on Medical ID.
Also: Sharing on other devices via Family Sharing. You can set up to share music, movies, tv shows and apps with up to 6 family members in total. You can set up one credit card for all the shared devices, and set up a notification if anyone you’ve flagged as a child tries to use the card to buy something and prevent them from doing so.
This is great in many ways particularly as you don’t have to share everything. Movies, music etc that have been purchased by one family member can be downloaded from the iTunes store, together with the option of hiding purchases you don’t want to make available to all.
You can also select which photos are added to your new family photo album, and opt to share (or not share) your location. You can also hide your device from family members if you wish to. There are plenty of options, some of them could be quite risky if you’re not paying attention. Here’s the full run down from Apple on Family Sharing.
iCloud Drive – if you ‘just’ own an iPhone and use a regular PC or laptop then this isn’t for you at this time. However iCloud Drive is going to become more and more useful as you (of course) add to your Apple Devices. But don’t click this one yet.
What iCloud Drive does is update all your Apple devices so that you can start updating on your iPhone and finish editing on your Mac or iPad. As they say ‘Edits you make on one device appear on all of them’.
But: Read Mashable on why you shouldn’t update to iCloud Drive right now it’s clear and concise and basically says ‘wait’.
To me most of these new iOS 8 features are excellent and helpful, and as we work inside them we’ll all learn more. There’s certainly a lot to take in.