1. Continuous Client
Make calls and continue working where you left off on your Mac, iPhone or iPadWithout a doubt the best new feature of iOS 8 is its ability to seamlessly pick-up exactly where you left off regardless of whether you are on your iPad, iPhone or Mac. As an example, writing an email on your iMac/Macbook Pro/Macbook Air will initiate an icon on the lock screen of your iDevice. Swiping up from the lock screen will take you straight to your unfinished email, webpage that you were browsing, PowerPoint presentation or document you were working on.
The desktop integration doesn’t stop there with the ability to even make and receive calls from your Mac, complete with caller name, number and profile picture, regardless of whether your iPhone is in another room charging or buried in your briefcase or handbag. As it uses your existing iPhone number there is no setup required, so long as your iPhone and Mac is on the same Wi-Fi network.
What’s more, your Mac or iPad can connect to your iPhone’s personal hotspot by simply being within range, removing the inconvenience of having to manually enable the personal hotspot on your iPhone.
2. Intelligent Search with Spotlight
The search function known as “Spotlight” on the iPhone has received a major boost as it will now match your search term with relevant snippets from Wikipedia, News, iTunes store, App store, iBooks, movie showtimes and suggested websites. It considers your location so entering a restaurant name will show you one nearby including the phone number and opening hours.
3. New Enterprise Features
There is a host of new enterprise features in iOS 8 that all centre around security, productivity and device management. Data protection has been expanded to third-party apps and individual messages in Mail. You can choose to have external email addresses marked in red. Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes and Messages as well as user credentials can now be protected with a passcode.
On the productivity side you can now designate individual mail threads as VIP so you can easily track updates to the conversation and Exchange users can now finally setup automatic out-of-office replies from iOS. Setting up a meeting in the Calendar app will now allow you to view availability of your invitees, making it much easier to work out a time that works for everyone.
There’s also a raft of new device management tools that is sure to please IT departments including the ability to automatically push iBooks, ePub and PDF documents to employees’ iDevice and expanded Mobile Device Management tools to help IT admins see and do more with the iOS devices they manage.
4. Interactive Notification Banners
One of the most requested iOS features is interactive notifications.
It’s something that Android users have been enjoying for quite some time and its finally coming to iOS 8. Notification banners, which appear at the top of screen from incoming texts, email, calendar invitations, reminders and even messages from apps like Facebook, will finally give you the ability to take action without leaving the app you’re in. For example, SMS notifications will give you the option to reply; email notifications will give you the option to “Mark as Read” or delete; accept or decline meeting alerts from Calendar, or mark a reminder as complete.
5. Get Things Done Quicker in Mail
You can now easily jump between a draft email and an email in your inbox by simply swiping down the email window you’re working on to access the rest of your inbox. Once you have the information you need, swipe the draft email window back up and resume working.
Mail also now recognises reservations, flight confirmation, or a phone number in an email. Just tap on the notification that appears automatically, add an event to your calendar or a phone number to your contacts.
6. Apps Can Now Actually Talk to Each Other and Share Data
You can now finally share files between apps, which means you can access and work on the same file across multiple apps. Previous to iOS 8, you had to make copies of the same file, but now drawing a mind map in a sketching app for example, will allow you to insert the mind map into a document app or place it in a slideshow using a presentation app.
7. Use AirPlay Even While Offline
AirPlay is great for seamlessly mirroring your Mac or iDevice to a projector or other external display wirelessly but the problem is you need a working Wi-Fi connection for it to work, making it problematic for using it in the boardroom where organisations usually have a complex network.
Crucially, iOS 8 now supports peer-to-peer Airplay discovery and playback which means you can wirelessly beam your presentation from your iDevice or Mac to an Apple TV connected display even if you’re offline or without the need for connecting to your organisation’s network.
Wish List: Here’s What We'd Like to See In the Next Version of iOS 8.
Better File Management
It is astonishing that there is still no central way to manage files on an iPad or iPhone.
To organise specific files, you have to fire up the dedicated app. For example, organising photos requires opening up a dedicated photo editing app, music files need to be managed through the iTunes app while spreadsheets, documents and PowerPoint files require their own dedicated apps to manage.
Why isn’t there a single file viewer style app that allows you to manage and preview all user created files stored locally on your iPad and on iCloud? This would make finding, organising and managing files on the iPad a lot easier.
Being able to backup the data on your iPhone or iPad directly to iCloud is great but with only 5GB of free storage, it means you will hit a storage wall sooner rather than later. Bumping up your iCloud storage doesn’t come cheap. To backup your 16GB iPhone or iPad to iCloud will set you back $21 per year and $105 per year to backup your 32GB iDevice. But what if you bought a 64GB iPhone or an iPad with 128GB of storage? Well you’re out of luck as Apple has a 50GB ceiling on its iCloud plans.
Offering iCloud plans with higher storage options needs to happen, but the price points needs a serious overhaul as well. In fact to say that Apple’s iCloud plans are just expensive when compared to the competition would be a gross understatement.
Have a look for yourself:
Apple iCloud − 15GB: RRP $21 per year, 25GB: RRP $42 per year, 55GB: RRP $105 per year.
Google Drive − 15GB: free, 100GB: RRP $US2 per year, 1TB: RRP $US10 per year.
Microsoft SkyDrive 7GB: free, 50GB: RRP $US25 per year, 100GB: RRP $US50 per year, 200GB: RRP $US100 per year.
Aside from revising iCloud storage plans and bumping up the storage limits, what we would really like to see from Apple is including iCloud storage for free, based on the internal storage capacity of the iPhone or iPad you buy. So buying a 64GB iPhone will automatically grant you 64GB of iCloud storage for free. Considering how much of a premium Apple charge for additional internal storage on its iPad and iPhone models, this could be a real value-add for customers while also removing a needless backup headache for many.
Being able to unlock your iPhone and authenticate app store purchases using the TouchID fingerprint scanner is great but its use is still quite limited. We would love to see TouchID used to login to other apps and services instead of having to rely on passwords. This doesn’t mean that third-party apps will have access to your fingerprints as iOS would do all the authenticating similar to how the keychain mechanism works with passwords in the Safari web browser.
Support for Wireless Mobile Payments
Samsung Galaxy S5 owners are already enjoying the convenience of linking their Westpac and Commonwealth Bank credit cards to their smartphones, allowing wallet free customers to pay at the register with a simple tap of their handset.
US-based Android users have also been enjoying contactless payments with Google Wallet for quite some time.
It’s been long rumoured that Apple will be coming out with a mobile payment solution of their own.
Could it finally make a debut at the 2014 San Francisco WWDC?
Prices correct at time of publishing.