iOS 8 Review: Analyzing Apple’s New Features and Functionality

iOS 8 Review

The recent introduction of iOS 8 — the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system — potentially ushered in a new era of home fitness, while changing the way consumers shop in brick and mortar stores. This iOS 8 review focuses on the major new enhancements expected to attract new users to the Apple fold, while keeping current iOS users firmly entrenched as fans.

Engaged in a competition with Google’s Android OS, and to a lesser extent, Microsoft Windows, Apple hopes iOS 8 helps to reverse a decline in market share that has seen Android overtake iOS in recent years. With that in mind, let’s take a look at iOS 8’s major new enhancements and features.

Improved iOS 8 Messaging and Notifications Keeping Up with Android

iOS 8 introduced improved messaging and notification functionality that reminded many Android users of their favorite mobile operating system. The Notification Center now features “Widgets” that give easy access to weather and stock information, in addition to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. App developers can also add their own widgets to the Notification Center display, with users ultimately controlling which apps’ widgets are displayed on the Notification Center’s “Today” tab.

Messaging is enhanced by the ability to add audio and video messages along with standard text. This new functionality takes advantage of the improved camera in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Other new features include an improved user interface and better handling of group messages and attachments.

HealthKit Puts a Fitness Coach on Your iPhone 6

One of the major new features of iOS 8 is HealthKit, Apple’s new system for tracking your health and fitness using your iPhone. This new functionality includes an app called Health, while HealthKit itself allows app developers to leverage the iPhone’s array of gyroscopes and sensors to help track your exercise sessions and other physical activity.

Apple hopes that the Health app becomes your one-stop location to track your entire collection of health-related data fed to it from apps that use the HealthKit framework. Heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar, and the calories burned during a workout — all this and more are typical of the fitness related data you are able to access and track using Health. The app also includes a host of cool charts and graphs to follow your fitness over time.

Another interesting feature lets you create an emergency health card that lists all major health information, including blood type and allergies, easily accessible from the iPhone’s Lock screen. If the need ever arises, this is data that could frankly be a life saver. Data privacy is also managed from within the Health app, with you having full control over what apps can see your information, plus any developer using the HealthKit API needs to agree to a privacy policy.

iOS 8 Offers Better Photo/Video Management and Editing

An enhancement that makes sense considering the new iPhone’s better camera, iOS 8 features much improved photo and video management. Search functionality takes advantage of both time and location data to better help you find images and video in a growing library. Editing images is also more powerful, making it easy to add professional effects on the fly.

Videos now benefit from extreme slow motion, helping you give your backyard sporting achievements a bit of major league flair. Conversely, time-lapse videos are also possible in iOS 8. You can also take advantage of the better iCloud integration in iOS 8 to easily share your photos and videos with friends and family.

Apple Pay Still Relevant to an iOS 8 Review

While Apple’s new mobile payment system — Apple Pay — isn’t officially part of iOS 8, it still makes sense to mention it in this review, as many consumers will be using this new feature on their iPhone 6. Apple Pay allows you to pay in stores by holding your phone in proximity to a terminal compatible with the service; it supports online retailers as well. The service competes with Google Wallet, but many terminals work with both payment systems.

Considering some retailers aren’t supporting either Apple Pay or Google Wallet in favor of their own third-party system to be introduced in 2015, it remains to be seen what system ends up being dominant in the long run.

If you are already an Apple fan, there is no doubt that iOS 8 offers many useful features to make it worth the update — provided your device supports the operating system. All Apple devices including the iPhone 4S and newer, the iPad 2 and newer, and the fifth-generation iPod Touch are able to run iOS 8, but if on the iPhone 4S or iPad 2, your iOS 8 performance may suffer. Android fans may not see enough compelling features to make the switch to iOS, however.

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