Voice Messaging has been one of the surprise hit features of iOS 8 for me. My family — especially my dad — have really taken to sending quick little voice bytes in lieu of text messages. The iMessage app in iOS 8 makes it easy to send a quick voice message to a contact. All it takes is a quick tap-and-hold on the microphone button to start recording a voice message while chatting with someone, and letting go of the button lets me preview the message before I send it off (which is something the selfie feature in iMessages should do!).
I like the way that these voice messages can replace quick calls, especially when you go into iMessage settings and set voice messages to stick around for only two minutes after you’ve listened to them. This keeps the messages ephemeral and fun — like Snapchat users know — and prevents me from having to manage an archive of audio files. However, it’s nice to know that I can save a particularly useful or sentimental voice message by simply tapping on the small “keep” text in the main window of iMessage.
One of the things my family and I still need to get used to is that voice messages are not dictation. Voice messages free us up to use inflection while speaking, which Siri has gotten me used to ignoring while dictating. As a quick comparison, here’s what it’s like to send a voice message vs. a dictated Siri message:
“Hey dad, wanna see a movie this Monday?”
“message my dad hey dad COMMA wanna see a movie this Monday QUESTION MARK”
Could you tell which one was which? :)
That’s not a knock against the awesomeness that is Siri’s dictation capabilities (which also got better in iOS 8), but it’s been fun and natural using my Mac and iOS devices like a long range walkie-talkie. Voice messages have shaken up my messaging dynamic, and I’m really happy for this addition. I often write about features I’d dearly wish for in a future version of iOS, but this is one of those cases where a totally unexpected feature was plopped onto my lap, and I’m only realizing now how much I’m enjoying the surprise.
PhotoToaster, one of the very best photo editing apps for the iPad, was updated for iOS 8 over this past weekend. The new version of PhotoToaster is 6.6.2 and here’s what it brings:
Complete iOS 8 and iPhone 6 and 6+ support!
We made a Preview video but in 30 seconds it’s hard to show the depth of the product (Non-destructive Editing, Multi-level undo, Saved sessions, Custom presets, Lighting brushes ,Fx brushes, full size export, etc).
PhotoToaster has been among our choices for Best iPad Apps for several years, and was even the pick for the best iPad app of the year for us in 2012. It’s easy to use and full of excellent features to get the most out of your photos. Just in case you haven’t seen the app, here are some of its notable features:
- 60+ one click effects that can instantly improve or completely alter a photo
– 80+ one click settings in Lighting, Fx, Vignette, Texture and Border categories that allow more creative control
– 26 live slider controls that allow for exacting control of all image adjustments
– 45+ tasteful borders
– 20+ creative texture overlays
– Lighting Brushes for a new level of control with brush-on exposure adjustments
– FX Brush to brush in areas of color or focus
– Non-destructive editing (you’ll see why this is important when you experience it)
– Multiple undo (many apps don’t even bother with undo but we can’t help it)
– Professional level lighting adjustments to lighten shadows and recover highlights
– Separate channel processing lets you to bend colors in new and interesting ways.
– Black & white conversion controls to create the exact look you want.
– Sophisticated Noise reduction to remove unwanted grain in low light photos
– Blazing performance
– Recent edits list that maintains recently edited photos so that you may continue an edit session later
– Save your own presets (if you create a look you like, save it for future use)
– Crop, rotate, flip and straighten
– Complete EXIF support
– Export to the usual social media suspects or at full resolution to your Photo Album
– Non-square Instagram posts are automatically matted on a white background
– Send a real Postcard with Sincerely
In a nutshell, it’s guaranteed to make your incredibly handsome Labrador even handsomer.
And here’s the App Store link for PhotoToaster; it’s priced at $2.99 and is a universal app designed to run on both iPad and iPhone.
PDF Expert 5 is another of the notable iPad apps that has got an impressive update for iOS 8. In the app’s latest update to Version 5.2, it has added a Zoom Writing feature especially for the iPad that’s described like so:
This is a great tool to write with precision. Essentially, it adds the area that zooms in a part of the page and allows you to handwrite more on a single page or document margins. As you write, the zoomed box moves along the page, automatically adjusting to the pace you need to work at.
Then there are the new features that have been added for iOS 8:
- iCloud Drive Support
Safely store all your presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, images and any other kind of documents in your PDF Expert iCloud folder. Directly access them from iCloud Drive on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or PC.
– Open files from iCloud Drive with Document Picker (iPad)
You can get documents stored on your iCloud Drive that are not in your PDF Expert application using Document Picker. It works almost like ‘Open in…’ dialog on your Mac or PC. On the PDF Expert side bar menu tap ‘Open…’ and navigate to the needed document.
– Open files from iCloud Drive with Document Picker (iPhone)
You can get documents stored on your iCloud Drive that are not in your PDF Expert application using Document Picker. It works almost like ‘Open in…’ dialog on your Mac or PC. On the PDF Expert bottom menu tap ‘Open…’ and navigate to the needed document.
– Use other iOS apps to work with the files from PDF Expert 5
In any Document Picker enabled application you can get access to all PDF Expert files that are outside the iCloud folder. Just tap ‘Locations’ in the Document Picker window and select PDF Expert from the list.
PDF Expert has been one of the very best PDF apps for the iPad for years, and it’s good to see the developers are making sure that’s going to continue to be true in iOS 8.
As expected, there are tons of apps being updated for iOS 8 in these first few weeks after its release. One of the more notable ones that updated this week for iOS 8 is Dashlane Password Manager.
Dashlane is an excellent password manager, with a superb set of features and a handsome UI that makes them simple to use. It works beautifully across iOS, Android, Mac and Windows – so your critical, confidential data is always secure and always accessible.
This week’s update to Dashlane Version 2.8.3 brings these cool new features along with some bug fixes and improvements to stability:
- A brand new Safari extension that allows you to automatically log in to sites and fill forms using your Dashlane data in Safari
– Touch ID integration which allows you to unlock Dashlane using your fingerprint
– An easy-to-integrate app extension, so other apps can allow their users to create accounts, sign in, and fill forms in their apps using Dashlane
– A new way to manually sync your data. Simply swipe down in the Passwords view to sync.
Here’s an App Store link for Dashlane; if you’re looking for a great password manager app for your iPhone or iPad it’s well worth considering.
I’m hoping you weren’t one of the people who was affected by the brief rollout of 8.0.1 this past week, but if so, 8.0.2 should fix any cellular issues you may have experienced. I updated my iPad Air from the iOS 8 GM to 8.0.2 last night and did a few practical tests. The main thing I noticed is that third-party keyboards now seem a little more stable. Fleksy and SwiftKey used to crash in iMessage or during quick replies, but that no longer seems to happen. I still have to scroll down every single time I load up iMessage though (unless I’m using Apple’s keyboard), so there are definitely still some extension bugs abound.
I also found out one disappointing thing about the iOS 8 APIs in general: third party keyboards are not allowed on the lockscreen. I’m not really sure why. I’m guessing it’s a security feature, but it does make the experience across iOS 8 feel inconsistent, since I prefer to use Fleksy most of the time, but any quick replies from the lockscreen force me to use Apple’s QuickType keyboard. I’m fine with password fields in iOS 8 requiring the stock keyboard, but I think my third-party keyboard should show up everywhere else.