#Tech: iOS 8 Review: A Change In The Basic Mechanics Of The iOS ecosystem.


Apple’s iOS 8 is arriving any moment from now, and while it isn’t as overtly dramatic a change as iOS 7 was last year, it’s still a big update with lots of new features and tweaks. Using it on the new iPhone 6 hardware revealed lots to love in the new mobile OS from Apple, some easing of restrictions that could lead to big advantages for third-party apps, and a lot of potential to change the basic mechanics of the iOS ecosystem.

 A look into the new iOS....

iOS 8 Review: Refinements And Relaxed Limitations Add Up For A Better Experience


Apple’s new Messages app in iOS 8 more closely resembles the various messaging networks that have sprung up, and that’s a very good thing, because it means you get access to some fun features, and as long as you’re chatting with someone who already has an iPhone or iPad capable of running iOS 8, they’re also already on board without any kind of download or sign-up.

The new features in Messages include the ability to tap and swipe to send audio and video messages, as well as images. It means fewer steps and less friction than were required in the past, which should mean more use of multimedia in conversations.

Best for me has been the ability to mute and leave group conversations, which is something I’ve been sorely missing since the introduction of group iMessage conversations. My family can tend to get pretty chatty on these threads, and while that’s generally fun, it can also be a huge distraction during work events, and during other times when I’d appreciate not getting a whole lot of noise mixed in with my signal.

New sharing features mean you can also quickly beam your location to users on specific threads, or to individuals, for time-based sessions, or permanently. This is a better, more useful relocation of the Find My Friends feature that previously lived in a dedicated app, and it really comes in handy when you need to get to where a friend is quickly, in an unfamiliar setting, without having to worry about copy/pasting or typing in specific addresses.


Apple’s Photos app improves in iOS 8, with comprehensive searching that lets you find photos and videos by searching for date, time, location, album name and by providing contextual smart search suggestions, like offering to find all the photos you took in a certain place.

There’s deeper editing at-hand, too, with manual controls over exposure, brightness, shadows/highlights and more, all with the sliders you might expect to see in something more advanced like Aperture.
This isn’t to say that the new Photos overwhelms novice users with too many options – by default, you’ll still only see the automatic enhance button and the app will now automatically correct horizon lines to make even the most rank amateur a better shooter, and advanced editing features are comfortably hidden another level deep.

Photos seems more intuitive overall, with one exception that might affect those like myself with multiple devices more than others: it effectively merges all libraries using your account for iCloud photo sharing, making it impossible to drill down and see what was local and what wasn’t.

This arguably keeps things simple for people who have an iPad and an iPhone and don’t care about maintaining distinct libraries, but it could be trouble for married couples who share one account strictly for iCloud syncing, for instance.


Apple has taken the keyboard that has remained functionally the same since the introduction of the iPhone and done real work on improving the experience. It finally introduced typing predictions in iOS 8, and once you start using them, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without.

It also pays attention to how you type when you’re communicating with different contacts and will alter its predictions accordingly. In my experience, this makes for a much improved iOS typing experience, and one that we probably should’ve seen introduced on the platform before now, to be frank. 

It’ll take a lot more testing to see just how sophisticated Apple’s prediction algorithms really are, but for now, they seem to learn the basics quickly as evidenced by decreased incidence of error over time.

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