As another year goes by we see a new iPhone and a new version of iOS to accompany it. We also got a preview of the Apple Watch which will be going on sale next year. Our reviews of both new iPhones will be coming soon, with a look at new iOS features specific to those devices like ApplePay. But with iOS 8 rolling out today to millions of existing iOS users across the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, it's worth taking a look at what Apple is bringing to the users that are already in the iOS ecosystem. 

This year brings the eighth iteration of Apple's mobile operating system, and with it comes features that users and developers have desired on iOS for many years. On the surface, iOS 8 seems like a minor update compared to the massive visual overhaul that iOS 7 brought. Indeed, there's no new design language, and no enormous changes to existing apps. But under the hood, with its features for application extensibility and continuity across the devices in Apple's ecosystem, it's a massive update that will be revealed over time as developers begin to take advantage of Apple's new features and APIs. If iOS 7 was the biggest update for users since the original launch of iOS and the iPhone 7 years ago, then iOS 8 is the biggest update for developers since the launch of iOS (at the time called iPhone OS) 2.0 and the App Store.

What's unique about iOS is the developer beta process that Apple runs in the time between announcement and release. While Google has taken a step into this area with the Android L developer preview, and Microsoft provides betas for Windows Phone 8.1, no mobile operating system operates on the 2 week beta schedule that iOS does. This cycle is interesting because it gives insight into Apple's development process on a smaller scale than looking at the changes from one major version of iOS to another. With iOS 7, developers became even more involved with this process as Apple began to really listen to the feedback given by people beta testing their software.

For example, the font weighting that we currently have is much heavier than what was originally demoed at WWDC back in 2013. It took many betas for Apple to eventually settle on what was a good balance between appearance and legibility. Likewise with iOS 8, I have observed many changes as Apple has gone through the different beta versions. The design of contact circles in the app switcher went through three or four different versions before Apple eventually settled on their current appearance. The buttons in Notification Center had a similar number of changes. Unfortunately, even when using iOS 8 betas on a daily basis it's difficult to keep track of all the changes made over time. What's most important to consumers is the end product though, and so with the exception of some features like SMS Relay, this review takes a look at the changes when making the jump from iOS 7.1.2 to iOS 8.0.

With that all said, lets dive into iOS 8, starting with the app that users use most.

Messages, Mail, and Recent Contacts
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  • Brandon Chester - Saturday, September 20, 2014 - link

    No I'm not. None of the A5 devices maintain 60fps everywhere on iOS 7.1.2 (I own an iPad 3 and a relative owns a 4s). Scrolling lists like the settings app are one of the best examples. Reply
  • mjh483 - Saturday, September 20, 2014 - link

    "From the perspective of a user there's no real wow factor with iOS 8 right now".

    I get what you are saying, but I don't get why you say it. This just tells me that you are EXPECTING to be amazed by just downloading one software update and not using anything other than the stock apps. The general expectation for Apple products is just purely wrong. I am not saying it's perfect, but criticising the lack of a wow factor doesn't SEEM AT ALL like a way to judge a new mobile operating system. If you only use Whatsapp, Facebook and play a few casual games, there's only so much any software update can improve your experience.
    Reply
  • houkoholic - Friday, September 26, 2014 - link

    > but criticising the lack of a wow factor doesn't SEEM AT ALL like a way to judge a new mobile operating system

    Yet that is always done with other OS like Windows Phone.... "oo but it lacks this WOW feature the other OS has".
    Reply
  • WakarusaJack - Saturday, September 20, 2014 - link

    Updated my iPad to iOS 8 and now I leave it on the table, virtually unusable. Slow. Locks up. So sorry I upgraded!!!! Reply
  • raj5151 - Saturday, September 20, 2014 - link

    Wow, really useful information post. Thanks for sharing
    http://techhowdy.com/blackmart-alpha-black-market-...
    Reply
  • dopehat - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    Okay... I understand your love for Madoka Magica... lol Reply
  • AppleCrappleHater2 - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    Worship the holy apple.

    The apple way, selling over expensive crap to stupid consumers that like to
    get robbed.

    This has been a disastrous launch in every respect. The iwatch is such an
    ugly piece of crap, it is truly unbelievable how a company, formerly known for
    its remarkable design, dares to put out such a crap ton of shit. Some
    characteristics are glaringly obvious and inherent to it: over expensive,
    hardly innovative, limited functionality and usability (need of an iPhone to
    make it work), looks exactly like a toy watch and so on.

    There are of course way better smart watches out there, especially form the
    likes of Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Asus, LG, simply put, there is no need for
    another piece of over expensive junk.

    The iPhone 6 is technologically stuck in pre-2011 times, a base model with
    a capacity of 16GB without the possibility to use SD cards isn't even funny
    anymore. The screen resolution is horrendous, it isn't water proof, shock and
    dust resistant, it offers nothing innovative, just some incremental
    updates over its predecessor, both lacking severely behind their competitors at
    their respective launch dates.

    Now the Iphone 6 Plus offers a „Retina HD“ screen, full 1920x1080p, oh wow,
    where have you been for the past 4 years apple, talk about trailing behind.
    That’s pathetic. The interesting thing about that is the fact that apple
    always manages to sell backwards oriented, outdated crap to its user base, all
    while pretending to be an innovative technology leader. The similarities
    regarding any form of sectarian cult are striking.

    You gotta love how Apple always comes up with new marketing bullshit terms,
    aka "Retina HD", with the intention to manipulate its users while preventing easy
    comparisons with its competitors by withholding the actual specs. Apparently it’s
    not enough to have a 1080p screen, you have to call it "Retina HD" to make those
    suckers buy it, otherwise someone could look at the 4K Amoled and Oled screens
    form LG and Samsung devices and get outright disappointed. Same goes for
    everything else. Every outdated „feature“ needs to get its own marketing label
    to persuade buyers with crappy „experience“ and „usability“ ads, while covering
    the truth with marketing gibberish, knowing full well that only a fraction of
    aforementioned buyers cares to look at the facts and dares to compare them.

    Car engines come to mind. For comparisons shake let’s look at a 1.0 liter, turbo
    charged petrol engine and a V8 compressor. What’s better should be obvious, but
    by calling the former an „ecobooster“, thus giving it a special marketing label,
    this joke becomes a „feature“, something positive that can be added tot the list
    of features of a car.

    By doing so a negative aspect is transformed into a positive one, the
    reality is distorted, non tech savvy buyers are manipulated and comparisons are
    made more difficult (another layer of marketing bullshit to overcome), well done
    marketing department. You see , if something is seriously lacking (of course for
    profit, what else), don’t bother explaining, just give it a nice marketing term, distort
    reality, make it a feature and call it a day. Fuck that!!

    The Apple Iphone 1 and Ipad 1 might have been innovative at their time,
    but since then, the bitten apple has been continuously rotting from the inside
    outwards, always swarmed by millions of Iworms which regale themselves with its
    rotten flesh, not forgetting all other Americans who support apple by means of
    their tax dollars to finance its bought US Treasury/Government bond interest rates.

    Last but not least, every Apple product includes a direct hotlink to the nsa,
    free of charge, something that might make it a good value, after all.

    Ceterum censeo Applem esse delendam.
    Reply
  • Breach1337 - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    Rendered my wife's iPhone 4S completely unusable. It's not just lag and worse performance compared to 7.x - the whole thing just stops responding, touchscreen, couldn't even reboot it. So much for it simply works for me. Reply
  • xenol - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    I lost it at the Madoka Magica Nendroid figures. Reply
  • phoenixash87 - Monday, September 22, 2014 - link

    Not sure if this was already posted, but to undo an unintentional delete, one can simply shake the iPhone which is the standard gesture for undo-ing any action. Reply

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