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iOS 8 Preview: our first look at the new features and improvements in Apple's OS

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iOS 8 Preview: our first look at the new features and improvements in Apple's OS

We couldn't help it, guys. Driven by our excitement after the official announcement of iOS 8, we downloaded and installed the beta version of Apple's mobile operating system. And now, after playing with it for some time, we are ready to share some thoughts and observations with our readers. Join us as we take you through a sneak peek preview of iOS 8 months prior to its launch to the general public.

Lock and home screens, Spotlight Search, Siri


Fueled with anticipation, we fired up our iPhone 5s once the update process had completed. After going through the brief setup wizard, we landed on... the very same home screen we knew before updating. The lock screen, the screen transitions, the animations also appeared to have been left unchanged. On one hand, we were a bit underwhelmed by all this. We did not like that initial it-is-all-the-same feeling (and they say that first impressions matter the most). But on the other hand, a shocking surprise this was not. Apple didn't introduce any major UI design tweaks during the iOS 8 announcement, so we weren't really expecting to see anything drastically new in this respect. Nevertheless, let's not forget that we're test-driving a beta version of iOS 8, so the final release might not look exactly like this.

Spotlight Search was the first iOS 8 feature that we got to test out; it was, quite literally, available at a swipe's distance. Spotlight Search, which is still accessible from any home screen with a swipe-down gesture, can now handle queries even better, returning results from more places than ever. Search results include news, songs and movies on iTunes, nearby restaurants and places of interest, and even apps that aren't in the user's library. Of course, Spotlight Search still digs through the user's installed apps, emails, contacts, and reminders, prior to forwarding your query to Google or Wikipedia. Suggestions are refreshed with each keypress, which makes searching even more convenient. Overall, the enhanced Spotlight Search has a lot of potential and many would find it very useful. In this beta of iOS 8, unfortunately, it seems to be having troubles with bringing up suggestions from the web as we type, although we suppose that will be taken care of prior to the OS's release.

Speaking of queries, Siri has been taught a few new tricks as well. First and foremost, you can make her (or him) listen to your input with a simple voice trigger – "Hey, Siri..." followed by your question or command. Alternatively, bringing up the phone to your ear would do the same. This, however, works only after Siri has been launched with a long-press of the home button. Yelling "Hey, Siri..." while on a home screen or with the phone locked wouldn't do much. Therefore, Siri's voice command is kind of useless unless you have to ask anything in addition after your first request. On a side note, a number of Android phones already support always-on voice commands. But ultimately, does Siri's voice activation work? Yup, it does, and it is still a welcome feature even though it could have been more useful. Also, Siri has gained Shazam integration – asking "What is this song?" would make Siri "listen" to it. With popular songs, the name and title should be delivered to you within seconds. No less important is the fact that Siri now supports 22 additional dictation languages.

Messaging and QuickType


The Messages app is the one most frequently used on iOS, according to Apple, so treating it to a much-needed upgrade makes absolute sense. With iOS 8, users get to attach audio and video to their iMessages, and the shortcuts used for the purpose are very convenient. Previewing a message of this kind before sending it is super easy. Also among the highly appreciated features are the options to leave or mute a group conversation.

On a related note, the process of responding to a message has been streamlined in iOS 8. When one arrives, a pop-up is displayed at the top of the screen with a line for writing back a response. In other words, you can write back without having to close the active app. We have a feeling that heavy texters are going to love this feature. These quick replies can be even sent without going past the lock screen. 

The on-screen keyboard is a key element of the whole messaging experience, which is why its proper execution is of great importance. At a glance, the one in iOS 8 hasn't been tinkered with, but then we started typing and got introduced to QuickType. In a nutshell, it is a word-predicting and auto-completing algorithm displaying three suggestions for your next word as you type. We must admit that it works well, and it is nice that it learns from the conversation's context to provide better word suggestions. At this time, it is still early early to say whether or not QuickType is better than what keyboard app developers have to offer, but it is shaping up as a worthy rival.

Camera and photo editing


As before, the camera app can be quickly accessed via its lock screen shortcut. Once opened, it presents us with a familiar and intuitive user interface. Some things are new, however. For example, the Camera in iOS 8 has a self timer that snaps a burst of shots with a delay of 3 or 10 seconds. It can be useful in situations where you want to take a group photo with you in it – place the iPhone on a flat surface, hit the timer button,  and get into the frame with the rest of the guys. 

What we also like is the added option to control the camera's focus and exposure independently. You do this by tapping on the screen to pick a focus area, and then sliding a little icon that pops-up. The option is welcome, but its current execution isn't flawless. The icon, which you slide up or down to make the image brighter or darker respectively, should have been made a bit bigger so that it would be easier to tap. By the way, holding down your finger on the screen will lock the focus and exposure on the selected area.

Another mode that has made its way into Apple's camera app is Time-Lapse. While nothing new to see on a smartphone, this feature is used for shooting videos that "condense" a long period of time into a much shorter video.

With iOS 7, photos could be edited straight in the Photos application, but the editing options available weren't many. Yet now, the built-in image editing tools in iOS 8 adds the options to edit an image's light and color. Modifying any of the two parameters actually changes a number of values simultaneously. For example, making a photo lighter boosts its brightness and contrast while reducing the exposure and highlights. We know this may seem complicated, but it is not. In fact, Apple has made its image editing features in iOS 8 so easy that anyone can do it. The instant previews show what a photo will look before it is even modified, which is neat. Also, we're glad to see that Photos lets us rotate images freely. The auto-enhance and red-eye removal tools from before are present. 

Health


This is a brand new app that comes along with iOS 8, enabling an iPhone to serve as a personal health monitoring device. You'll need additional peripherals for the purpose, however – peripherals that can gather that data and feed it into Health's database. The beauty of Health is that it is a centralized hub for all of the user's health stats, including anything from their activity, weight, and heart rate, to blood pressure, blood glucose, and vitamin intake. Thus, it gives a more complete picture of one's condition. Data collected by Health may be automatically sent to a doctor in case, let's say, the user takes a blood pressure reading and the values are outside of the norm. These are the possibilities that Health in iOS 8 will enable. From then on, it will be up to the developers and the makers of health monitoring devices to create innovative products and services compatible with Health.

Since we had neither the time, nor the equipment needed to give Health a try, we can't really say how good it works. It looks promising, however, with a clean interface and graphs showing progress over time. The addition of a personal Medical ID within Health is a welcome one. It is an overview of a person's medical conditions and allergies, meant to be accessed by others in cases of emergency. That's why the ID can be viewed without having to unlock the phone. 

Expectations


This isn't all that iOS 8 brings to the table. There's also the implementation of widgets in the notification panel, the option to use third-party keyboards, the extensibility features letting apps share functions with other software, and the elegant Continuity tech allowing an iPhone or iPad to interact with other Apple products – all much-appreciated enhancements in iOS that, unfortunately, we can't try due to the lack of suitable apps and because of the platform's unfinalized state. In other words, the iOS 8 beta may have given us a sneak preview of what Apple has built, but many the platform's sweetest bits are yet to come. Nevertheless, we're mostly satisfied with what we've seen so far. Apple improves in key functionality areas where there was room for improvement, and many elements that worked fine in iOS 7 have not been tinkered with. 

Yet there's one thing that's hard to ignore. Visually, iOS 8 sticks to the style and design language introduced by iOS 7. It isn't bad, and we've pretty much adjusted to its appearance already, but at the same time, we feel like iOS could have been made more appealing with this upcoming release. And the customization options could have been given a boost as well. As a matter of fact, iOS 8 seems to add nothing but one more static wallpaper to pick from. 

Of course, it is still too early to draw any final conclusions about iOS 8 at this time. But if there's one thing we can say with certainty, that is that iPhones and iPads are about to get even more exciting this fall.

Note: This preview is based on iOS 8 Beta 1. Features described and pictured here might differ, visually and/or functionally, in the final iOS 8 release, which will be released "this fall".

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posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:48 18

1. chistoefur (Posts: 59; Member since: 05 Nov 2012)


Even though lots of these features have been available for years in other OS's, it's still nice to see them here, and see them executed nicely. With a larger screened iPhone coming soon, it's pretty compelling now.

But It's gonna take more than that to drag me away from Android.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:57 5

7. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


My iPad is still running on 7.0.6 due to jailbreak. Thinking about selling it and getting a M8 on Friday. :)

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:58 8

8. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 430; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


Apple is definitely closing the gap to the point where I'm no longer looking at iOS as an antiquated operating system that would be absurd for me to use. Android is still packing more of what I want though.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 19:53 1

37. Marienx (Posts: 20; Member since: 27 Aug 2013)


Fack Samsung and Apple. They've been having a troll marketing and trolling each other for so long they are on a race of their own. There will be a time Samsung drops Android for Tizen and will be a 3 way race between them and Google. With the new speculated Silver I believe Google would go on by itself. and lets make one thing clear... If Google never provided Apple with apps when it was released, the iPhone wouldn't be where it is now and not mentioning Samsung since it is rather too obvious.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 22:20 6

53. Lampriya (Posts: 207; Member since: 05 Oct 2013)


It's not fair to compare ios with Android. ios was born to please elite class people and Android was to attract users with their gimmicky useless features.

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 01:24 2

59. hurrycanger (Posts: 1261; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


gimmicky useless features, including those features on iOS 8 which Android has had for a while?

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 02:12 1

63. Daftama (Posts: 575; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Hahahaha sometimes I wonder how people don't see the wrong in themselves such hypocrites... It's innovation because Apple made lol......

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 03:42

64. artorelis (Posts: 5; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)


I agree completely. It's nice to hear all those rumours about 5.5 inch screen iPhone but they still need to do more to drag me away from from Samsung's "big boys" such as Note 3. :-)

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:50 2

2. Ninetysix (Posts: 1669; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)


Man..what can I say. I've had these features on my Android phone for a while now. I'm so upset that Apple finally integrated them into iOS. I don't really know what I will do now to release all these anger inside of me. I guess i'm off to the gym to do some deadlifts while screaming "Android Rules!!!" in every rep.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:55 3

4. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 430; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


Do it, I dare you.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:57 2

46. networkdood (Posts: 6310; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


dude, he is just trolling...

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 05:16 1

66. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 430; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


I didn't arrive on the internet yesterday, I know. I'm just surprised you didn't recognize that I was doing the same thing.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:54

30. superduper (Posts: 151; Member since: 20 Oct 2013)


K brah.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:46 2

44. gnotch (Posts: 19; Member since: 31 Dec 2013)


and that will do nothing but have everyone looking at you like you're crazy.

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 01:25

60. AfterShock (Posts: 2904; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


This changes what exactly?

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:53 5

3. Gamas_K (Posts: 61; Member since: 02 Nov 2013)


"Hey, siri"? Are they copying "Ok Google" and "Hi, Galaxy?

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:57 9

6. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Ironic how Apple sued Samsung for Siri yet they blatantly copied Google and Samsung with the voice activated phrase.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:31 7

22. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


That crappy S-Voice is a blatant, and horribly implemented copy of Siri.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:49 4

27. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I said the voice activated phrase, not S-Voice itself jedii. :)

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 03:53

65. artorelis (Posts: 5; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)


Don't use this s-voice from samsung. It's a crap. Instead of it use Google voice (Google now).

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:09 1

12. Sauce (unregistered)


Lets not forgot who copied Siri to begin with.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:14 10

13. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


Refresh my memory, Google worked on Google Now for five years before Siri was officially released by Apple.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:22 2

15. ojdidit84 (Posts: 408; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)


It wasn't Google, but it was definitely Samsung. The reason I stayed away from Samsung for so long is because they blatantly copied Apple since the GS1, especially with their ridiculously half-baked redundant "S" services.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:26 2

21. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


S-Voice bites. I don't even use it, I use google now instead.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:46 2

25. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


For what it's worth, Siri just now got vocal on commands. How could Samsung have copied Apple with "Hi, Galaxy" if Apple wasn't doing "Hey, Siri" until iOS8?

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:52 7

29. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


How is S Memo a copy of Notes on any of the Apple Products? S Health?

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 10:12

70. ojdidit84 (Posts: 408; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)


My lord you people take things so much out of context. His comment was "who copied Siri to begin with" after all. I was obviously talking about s-finder/translator/voice. Things that are already provided by Google in Google Now/Translate/Search and S-Voice was a definite half-assed attempt at competing with Siri. I love my Note 3, but I uninstalled those 3 for the simple fact that they suck compared to what's already provided. S-Note/Health are fine for what they are and were created to work with features that are provided on their phones/smartwatches/S-pen, in-house developed and not attempts to copy and put out a half-assed clone to compete with Apple or Google.

People need to learn to pay attn to context around here instead of just jumping because someone said something about their beloved company they hold undying allegiance to.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:13

39. Sreddy (Posts: 87; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)


lol, 5 years, and apple came out before it :/ whose the lame one now
im sure that apple didnt spontaenous release siri one morning, dont kid yourself my friend

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:25 1

41. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


No, they spontaneously bought it tho.

Google Now is more in house developed than Siri. Shows too, with Google Now almost wiping the floor with Siri for results when they both launched.. I ...hope...Siri is better now.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:30 2

43. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


Google developed their own, Apple purchased their own. Big difference.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:48

45. Sreddy (Posts: 87; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)


the difference matters now :/ product is out, both virtually merely the same thing .. they developed, they purchased, its not like both of them didnt invest anything on it, one time one maybe more money..

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 21:03 3

47. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


So what's your point then? How is it lame to develop the program yourself so that it works incredibly well? If you're going to hate on it, at least have a sensible reason for it.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 21:16

48. Sreddy (Posts: 87; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)


Point is how lame is google for working for all those years and yet apple gets it out before them, and here all the droid fans nagg, aww google called it first. what incredibly well lol? apple bought it and integrated it incredibly well also lol.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 21:52 3

50. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


Google built it the way they wanted it to work, and it worked extremely well. Nothing lame about that.

Apple purchased Siri, and it wasn't perfect when they integrated it. Many who used Siri before it was Siri say Apple actually reduced it's capability when they integrated it. That's not really lame though either, Apple wanted it to function a specific way so they altered the original program.

What is lame, is you not being able to give credit where credit is due. Google could have purchased a program like Siri, they have far more than enough cash available to do that. They decided to make their own, a respectable approach.

Both companies buy other companies and programs. And both companies produce their own software. Neither avenues are lame.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 22:32 2

54. shuaibhere (Posts: 1660; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


But apple bought it just a year before releasing...so google was working on GOOGLE NOW even before apple new there is something known as SIRI exist...

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 01:35

61. AfterShock (Posts: 2904; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


just a bait post and books for bottom of the bridge again.

I guess after the shame of iOS, he has to lash out.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 19:28 2

36. sprockkets (Posts: 1314; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


Nobody copied Siri. Siri was going to be on android and was already on ios. Apple bought Nuance and put the app to pasture for android and for everyone else not on the iphone4S.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 21:43 2

49. -box- (Posts: 3864; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Remember that siri was developed by outside companies, including Nuance and DARPA, and apple bought it and neutered it.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 22:40

55. shuaibhere (Posts: 1660; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


There where many voice assistants in android before siri came out...

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 17:56 14

5. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


There's nothing that Apple brought that makes me want to jump from Android.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:01 3

9. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Lol dude you're not starting to troll are you? Don't jump from android, why would you leave an awesome platform like that. Simply use both, I do. Nothing will make me leave iOS, but android will always be my #2.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:07 3

11. Sauce (unregistered)


He just wants to GTA….Gym Tan Android.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:23 2

17. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Lol good one.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:24

19. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


Those uhm... from Jerseyshore?

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:54 1

31. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Actually, no. I plan on buying a iPhone 6 when it releases, but there's nothing from making me update my iPad Mini 2 to iOS 8 Beta or getting an iPhone 5S right now. Android will always be my #1, and Iafter playing around with the 1520, I think I might give it a go.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 20:18

40. Sreddy (Posts: 87; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)


if you love one os so mch, y do you wana jump lol :/
sell your ipad, buy a m8! if you dont like apple or ios, dont use it

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:03

10. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5497; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


I think that I will not be updating to the Beta version, I will wait for final release and then update. Will be interesting to compare it with Android. :)

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:18

14. TheNeighbor (Posts: 108; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Once Apple provides a model with an active Wacom digitizer and a replaceable battery, I'm sold in letting go of my Note 3. With these features close to the Android experience of stuff I find convenient like text Swiping, battery and active digitizer are the only big things that are stopping me from getting Apple devices.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:24

18. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Why not use both bro? I do.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:22 2

16. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


People are not really getting how big this is, it's okay. It took four year for some to understand how big the iphone was. WWDC '14 changes EVERYTHING. Just another example of Google having all the pieces necessary to make a Lego Ironman for a few years but not going the whole 9 yards to complete the piece and then Apple comes along and makes a better looking Batman

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:25

20. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


iOS 8 does look beautiful, doesn't it.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:35

23. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


It does look nice but the visual overhaul was really meant for iOS7. This time they added functionally that's superior in every way, esp when you have a Mac. Dude it's HUGE. I know guys here will take long to notice it but it's huge. Apple really wasn't sitting on their butts this whole time. I think the Apple we used to know is back Darkk.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:43

24. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


It surely does look nice, the iOs8

Can't wait for September for Apple to release the IP6. Surely will be buying that.

Androiphone20, what does that mean?

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:46 1

26. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


...huh?

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:52

28. darkkjedii (Posts: 12402; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


So do I, and I love it. I can't wait to use this on the new iPhone.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 19:02

33. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


Man, that's awesome and it's just the half of it. I think I'll be getting a new Mac, maybe a MBA if it gets an upgrade. My rMBP works great but idk Yosemite deserves a new machine. Continuity sweetness this fall.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 18:57 6

32. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Idk if you've actually noticed, but everything that's in iOS 8 now has been available on my Sensation 4G three years ago. Step in the right direction, but since I'm used to the features, it just didn't "wow" me as much as it did with you daily iOS users.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 19:13

34. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


it's going to take a lot for you to notice, that's all I can say to you. You're just looking at the tip of the iceberg.

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 22:05 2

51. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Trust me when I say I'm still disappointed. Nothing exciting was announced yesterday that I'm not already used to. Simply Apple playing catch up that's all.

posted on 04 Jun 2014, 00:56

58. androiphone20 (Posts: 1512; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


Well, so I'll just have to say don't find yourself underestimating Apple on this one. Eddy Cue wasn't spewing vaporware when he said Apple is going to unveil the "best lineup he's seen in 25 years". As a developer you could see it in this year's WWDC and it's big.

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