While iOS 7 provided a much-needed visual makeover, iOS 8 is all about enhancing features, adding a few new exciting ones, and easing everyday processes. Unfortunately, iOS 8 is not entirely finished yet, so users will have to wait a while to experience all that it has to offer.
New texting features: iOS 8's predictive typing will save you key taps. For those who speak only in emoji, there are multiple additional keyboards, including every facial expression, animal, flower, device, house, automobile, and astrological sign you could ever need. Just press the smiley face on the main keyboard, then the globe icon for a couple of seconds, and select Emoji. While texting, click Details and easily initiate a FaceTime call or share your location with a friend. Our favorite new texting feature is the easy voice texting: just press and hold the microphone button. We also appreciate that you can respond to texts without leaving the app that you're in -- simply drag the text field down.
Camera: One great new feature is Time-Lapse for creating time-lapse videos. The native photo editing process has also been improved; you can now straighten and crop photos with a swipe and adjust color and light via a slider. If you prefer greater creative control, iOS 8 has a menu for fine-tuning exposure, contrast, and more.
Health: Health has four sections: a Dashboard, which shows all of your health data at a glance; Health Data, which includes everything from Body Fat Percentage to Forced Vital Capacity to vitamin levels; Sources, which gets filled automatically as participating apps request to add data; and Medical ID.In Medical ID, you can enter important info, like medical conditions or allergies, and first responders can find those details even when your phone is locked by tapping Emergency and then Medical ID. Privacy-minded folk who would rather not share this information can opt to hide it.
App Store offerings: The new, cost-effective Bundles feature lets you download an entire collection of apps from the same developer for a discounted rate. Four free apps are offered upon launch: Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and iMovie. Several iOS-optimized apps, such as Evernote and BuzzFeed, are recommended. In the Gorgeous Games for iOS 8 section, you'll find a variety of games enhanced by Metal, a new technology that delivers improved graphics, effects, and frame rates. We tested a few and were very impressed by their enhanced look. Family sharing lets you pay for and access new apps for family members.
Expanded searching: Spotlight is no longer limited to apps and emails; now you can also perform Internet searches.
Improved notifications: We love that we can now receive and respond to emails, tweets, event invites, and more directly from the lock screen.
Plays nicely with apps: None of the existing apps on our test device -- from Facebook to Spotify -- were compromised by the iOS update.
Tips: We appreciated the Tips icon, which offers regularly alternating suggestions for getting the most out of iOS 8 -- from how to quickly respond to texts within apps to how to get email reply notifications.
Heavyweight application: At a whopping 5.7GB, iOS 8 took more than an hour to download on our test iPhone 5S. If you have a 16GB iPhone, you may have to delete photos, videos, music, and apps before you can even download the update.
Unintuitive keyboard tabs: When you're texting, the emoji keyboards are not under obvious tab buttons. Why a heart symbol is under a smiley header or a pill is under a bell header is beyond us.
No more Camera Roll: We loved seeing all our photos in one gallery. Now photos fall under Recently Added and Recently Deleted sections. After 30 days, they are transferred to a Collections folder, where they are organized by date and location.
Unhealthy: With the HealthKit delay, the Health app is mostly useless, since there is no information being pulled in by third-party apps.
iOS 8 is a mixed bag. Photo fans and heavy texters are sure to love the new shooting and editing options and emoji keyboards. But those looking forward to HealthKit apps will have to continue waiting to make the most out of Apple's new Health app.
iOS is the foundation of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It comes with a collection of apps that let you do the everyday things, and the not-so-everyday things, in ways that are intuitive, simple, and fun. And it's loaded with useful features you'll wonder how you ever did without.
It's designed to look beautiful and work beautifully, so even the simplest tasks are more engaging. And because iOS 8 is engineered to take full advantage of the advanced technologies built into Apple hardware, your devices are always years ahead -- from day one to day whenever.