Despite Apple claiming iOS 8 works on the iPhone 4s, iPad 2 and iPad mini, known as the 1st generation, well, I don’t advise updating them. These devices use the aging A5 processor and are limited to 512MB of RAM. After updating my 4s, I found tasks like typing and switching between apps became sluggish. Plus Apple has had to axe Handoff for apps and AirDrop to get iOS 8 working on the older models, so you won’t get the best experience. If you’ve got an iOS device released in 2013 or beyond there shouldn’t be any problems as these products have 1GB RAM and faster processors.
Once you’ve got your hands on a device capable of running iOS 8 without stuttering, you’re in for a treat. Here are some of what you can expect:
- Default iOS keyboard is revamped
The iOS keyboard has always seemed primitive when compared the multitude of options on Android. iOS 8 introduces ‘QuickType’ – a keyboard with predictive text capabilities. As you type, a small bar at the top of the keyboard displays three word suggestions you can tap in order to select the appropriate word. Initially, I found myself typing words out in full out of habit but using the predictive text option started to feel natural.
- MDM is beefed up
iOS 8 provides good security features for business users. The mobile device management (MDM) features in iOS 8 now allow admins to specify which apps are used to open documents downloaded via the Safari browser or the new iCloud Drive. They can now check the date of the most recent back-up to avoid overwriting important data or files, too. S/MIME encryption is available for individual messages, and it’s also possible to highlight emails from addresses outside your organisation.
- Mail app gets swipe gestures
The Mail app has been modified, with swiping gestures now allowing you to organise messages. Swiping right on a message marks it as unread, whereas a flick left allows you to flag an important message or delete it. I did find these gestures to be a sensitive, accidentally deleting emails when left-swiping too quickly. Another useful option is the ability to organise messages into ‘VIP threads’.
- Notifications are interactive
‘Notify Me’ tells iOS to display a notification as soon as you receive a reply to a particular email, and when you pull-down to display the notification you’ll see options allowing you to reply, or delete a message without needing to open the app.
- Safari gets cleaner look and more functions
The address bar and tabs are now hidden when on a page to give you an uncluttered view. You can restore the address bar and tabs whenever you want to by stroking down the page with a finger, and Safari on iOS now includes a sidebar, similar to the OS X version of Safari. This displays your reading list of stored articles and pages.
- Photos are easier to manage
As soon as you tap on the Search tool in the top-right corner of the screen you’ll see a list of photos taken close to your current location. You can also search by location name, date or album name. The last version of Photos was ideal for dealing with large photo libraries going back several years, so the improved search tools make a huge difference.
Overall, iOS 8 brought much needed improvements to the keyboard, notifications and web browsing. With Continuity, iCloud Drive and HealthKit all to look forward too, this will be the best iOS update to-date.