I installed iOS 8 on both of my iThings this week, so here’s a quick roundup of things I’ve noticed so far. In general, iOS 8 looks a LOT like iOS 7, and the stuff that interests me the most won’t really kick into play until Yosemite drops and I can update my Mac. But that said, there are some points of interest.
The new Health app has a tab in it where you can fill in medical data about yourself that might be critical in an emergency–allergies, important conditions of note, meds you’re on, that kind of thing. This strikes me as super-helpful, and certainly in both my and Dara’s case, there are important things that medical personnel might need to know if we’re in an emergency situation. This data is accessible from the phone’s emergency screen, the same screen from which you can dial 911. Excellent idea, Apple.
I am pleased to note that not only have the recurring Smart Playlists bugs that have plagued me through the last several iOS releases not returned this time, but a few other bugs new to iOS 7 appear to have been fixed as well. Notably, I’m not seeing weirdly missing album art anymore. And I don’t have to restart the Music app after syncing now to un-stick the Not Recently Played smartlist as I play stuff on it. AND, they fixed the bug where my Not Recently Played playlist wasn’t showing me brand new stuff. So now that playlist is behaving like I originally expected it to. Good.
Playlists in the Music app are now showing a count of songs and a run time in minutes. This is helpful to have, particularly for my smart playlists like Not Recently Played, where I can see at a glance how big the playlist currently is.
The bug with setting wallpapers appears to have been fixed–this bug being the one wherein you were unable to actually zoom a photo to the size you wanted when setting a wallpaper. This was annoying and I’m glad it’s fixed. Let’s hope it stays that way as this rev of the OS gets minor updates.
On my iPhone, battery life seems like it’s better. I haven’t burned through the battery nearly as fast the last couple of days, even if I play music through a good chunk of the day.
The Not Bad Per Se But Not of Interest to Me:
Two things got added that I immediately turned off when I discovered them.
One is predictive text, where they show you example possible words in a bar above the keyboard as you type to try to anticipate what you’re actually about to say. I found this visually distracting. Fortunately it was easy to turn off in Settings > General > Keyboards > Predictive.
The other is that in the app switcher that they put in with iOS 7, when you double-tap the Home button, they’ve added a list of your recently accessed Contacts. I found this visually distracting as well, and turned that off too. You can find the setting in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Show in App Switcher.
I’ve had apps hang unexpectedly a couple of times since the upgrade, requiring me to kill them in the App Switcher. This isn’t happening often, but it IS new behavior, and it’ll be something I’ll have to keep an eye on. The apps I’ve noticed this on so far have been Plants Vs. Zombies 2 and Friendly+, my Facebook app. I don’t know if this is a fault of the OS or of the apps not quite having been updated correctly for the new OS, though.
The Stuff I’m Still Investigating:
Apple’s handling of podcasts has been a mess in the last couple of revs of iOS, ever since they split podcasts out of the main Music app and off into their own Podcasts app. I’ve had recurring issues with certain podcasts duplicating themselves in my listing, and podcasts I’ve listened to still showing up in my list even though they’re supposed to have been deleted.
Still investigating whether handling of this has improved. A new version of the Podcasts app just dropped last night.
The Stuff I Will Play With More When Yosemite Drops:
You’re supposed to be able to share files across iCloud now, and have an accessible drive to put them on, similar to Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, and other such services. It’s about damn time Apple implemented that, and I’ll look forward to checking it out–since it’ll make Pages finally actually useful to me. Pages doesn’t talk to Dropbox, which has been a source of frustration to me.
Continuity will be interesting as well–the ability to answer messages across devices, such as answering a phone call on the Mac. Or starting a mail on the phone and picking it up again on the computer when I get home.
Should You Install It?:
If you have a recent device like an iPhone 5 or one of the newer iPads, yes, go for it. So far this seems like it’s a better than average iOS update.
However, if you have an iPhone 4S, you should read this. According to that article, the 4S suffers noticeable performance hits with iOS 8 on it.