I’ve been running the beta on and off for a few months now, and I’ve spent the last few weeks on Beta 5 and the GM, so I feel like I’ve got a good enough handle on the OS to write a quick review for launch day. Let’s get one question out of the way right up front: should you upgrade to iOS 8 today?
Hrm, let me think about th — yes, absolutely, yes. The only warning I have is to refrain from upgrading to iCloud Drive when prompted (the dialogue shows up after you upgrade and restart). iCloud Drive will take over iCloud sync for all apps that previously used it, and OS X Mavericks won’t support iCloud Drive, so any iOS app that moves to iCloud Drive will no longer be able to sync with its Mac counterpart. OS X Yosemite will work properly with Drive, but it’s not coming out until later this year.
But let’s get back to the good stuff. I think iOS 8 is the single biggest jump forward for iOS since the introduction of multitasking in iOS 4. The operating system has opened up in so many ways this year, and it’s a godsend for power users who have been eyeing Android’s awesome share menus and custom keyboards with increasing envy.
If iOS 7’s mission statement was “Shut up, use this: it’s colourful and different and you’ll like it”, then iOS 8 says “Actually here’s that app integration and third-party keyboard support you’ve always wanted, Thomas. Would you like a massage?”.
There are going to be a lot of iOS 8 reviews out today, so I’ll cut down on as many of the repeats as possible. This is an iOS 8 review with a focus on the iPad experience. I’ll focus on the stuff I loved, the changes that feel mediocre, and then mention stuff I don’t feel like I can properly discuss yet.
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Just in case you haven’t been avidly following Apple sites or even mainstream news related to the brand new version of the iPad and iPhone operating system, today is the day that iOS 8 will be released to the public. It is expected to be released at 10AM Pacific / 1:00PM Eastern.
iOS 8 brings a number of exciting new features to the iPad that greatly improve its interaction with the Mac, beefed up Photos and Messages apps, health-focused features, a much-improved iCloud, and third party keyboards.
Apple has a big, bold page devoted to what’s new in iOS 8 – it’s well worth a look to get yourself a little excited about what’s coming a little later today.
I’d also recommend taking a look at this short, sweet rundown of how to prep for iOS 8 at Macdrifter – it offers some simple steps to make the upgrade to iOS 8 as fast, easy, and effective as possible.
Last Wednesday night I installed the iOS 8 GM (gold master) build on my testing iPad mini. The GM should be identical or very near identical to the public release of iOS 8 coming this Wednesday. It took a while to get installed due to some issues with iTunes on my iMac, and then once I did I immediatley hit an awkward problem.
When I tried to download a new app in the App Store I was greeted by a message telling me that Paypal was not an accepted payment method on this version of iOS, and recommending that I go to iTunes on a PC in order to rectify the situation.
That sounded like nonsense to me, largely because I’ve seen similar messages stating that Paypal won’t be accepted on the App Store over the years, and they have always turned out to be untrue. So I chose to ignore this one and see what happened after a restart of the iPad and just leaving it alone for a while. I had installed the GM late one evening anyway, so I figured I’d just reboot and see what was up the next day.
And sure enough, the next day everything was fine and back to normal in the App Store on this iPad. I could buy new apps, make In-App purchases, and use the App Store just as I always have – without making any adjustment to Paypal as my payment method.
I don’t know whether this will turn out to be just a little glitch in the GM or whether it’s just Apple continuing to press people to add to the hundreds of millions of credit cards numbers it can throw up on screen in presentations.
In any case, I hope this may help some of you out if you happen to get a warning about Paypal not being accepted on iOS 8.
SwiftKey Keyboard, one of the more well-known and well-liked Android keyboards, will be making its way to iOS 8 very soon. In fact, according to Venture Beat it may be available when iOS 8 launches next week.
SwiftKey’s most notable features include predictive text and intelligent autocorrect, and it looks like it will be one of the first big name keyboards to come to the iPad and iPhone.
The video above is narrated by ‘British national treasure’ Stephen Fry, it’s beautifully done but doesn’t do the greatest job in actually showing off SwiftKey.
I’m as happy as anyone to see 3rd party keyboards finally make it to iOS, and I really can’t wait to see Swype and )hopefully) Google Keyboard hit the App Store.
I already talked about the 1Password iOS 8 extension in August, but here’s another great example of the power of extensibility. 9to5Mac showed a great video preview of a proposed Things 2.5 browser extension made possible by iOS 8. Not only can you create a new task from within Safari, but you can automatically add details like the webpage URL, and even add the selected text as a note.
That’s a lot faster than:
- Copying the URL manually
- exiting Safari
- loading Things up
- adding a new task
- naming the task
- adding a note
Extensions are the most exciting feature of iOS 8 by far, but they’re also the hardest to demo without showing actual third-party apps working as a cohesive system. It’s not long now until we get to enjoy this kind of interaction first-hand.