Despite the time it seemed to take for many of us to download the latest updates to our iPhone and iPad operating systems, we’ve now mostly had a couple of weeks to play around with iOS8, and verdicts are being returned. Here are some tips and ideas from the team here to help you get the most out of your ‘new’ iPhone or iPad, by rummaging around in some settings menus to tweak things and get them just how you want them.
Sure, Apple said at their keynote in September this OS would be fine for the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2 – but evidence so far suggests it is NOT, and from a performance point of view you are better of sticking to the older software. This is not a problem, everything still works – in our house we still have an original iPad from 2010 cheerfully running iOS4 (I think), sometimes its better to stick with what you know until you get a new toy.
You can do more with Messages
Perhaps in response to pressure from third party services like Whatsapp, you can do a lot more with the native iMessage application now. You will find a “details” page accessed from a button in the upper right of a text message that gives you more options, such as contact info with buttons to call, initiate Facetime, or look at that person’s full contact information. You can also quickly send your location with a map (much like Whatsapp), or add audio or video snippets as attachments. The dictation quality (across all services) is better in iOS8 too, so if you don’t fancy typing a message on the keyboard (see below) you can use the mic icon in the keyboard rather than the app to dictate a text message with impressive degrees of accuracy. And you can also mute a group chat if the alerts are driving you nuts: Go to the group thread, select ‘Details’ in the top right corner and scroll down to the ‘Do Not Disturb’ toggle at the bottom.
You have greater choices about keyboards
Typing on a smartphone has never been easy, and in case you don’t want to upgrade to the big Ipad 6 plus phone you can now make some changes in which keyboard you use, including support for third party keyboards – have a look in Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards and see what appeals.
The native keyboard also offers smart learning which kinds of words/spellings you use in different contexts and communications, via the Quick Type word-guessing bar. (If you find this more annoying than useful you can kill it by swiping down from the top of the QuickType bar, I am undecided so far)
Battling for battery just got a bit smarter
Every upgrade sucks a bit more power and makes conservation more of an issue, but iOS8 now helps you track which specific apps are bleeding your battery fastest (“blame the apps! It’s not our phone!” seems to be the subtext here…) Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage will take you to an interesting breakdown of how your power has been spent over the past 24 hours (or toggle to a 6 day view). This can lead to some surprises, and gives you a very clear idea which hungry apps to kill when you are most concerned to preserve your battery between charging opportunities
There’s fun to be had in the camera app
More functionality, things that used to be the preserve of third party apps are now native. For example shooting a time-lapse video – you’ll still benefit from a tripod or similar if you want to capture a glorious beach sunrise. You can also use this feature to shoot normal things then speed them up to look ridiculous if you want. If you’re more serious about your photography iOS 8 adds the ability to tweak the exposure manually before you shoot. To do so, simply tap to focus and then drag up or down when the brightness symbol. The camera also has a new timer function – just tap the little clock icon in the top menu when you’re taking a photo and it’ll let you choose between a three- or ten-second delay before shooting.
Your phone can shout for help before you lose it
You know when you’ve misplaced your phone and you ring it to see which sofa cushion or pocket it has hidden in, only to get voicemail because, dammit, the battery has died overnight? Find My Iphone (Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone) has a nifty new setting where just before the power expires it will upload a location pin. Might not tell you exactly which cushion to lift first, but you will know whether to ransack your house rather than file an insurance theft report.
Just 6 areas of difference we’ve found useful so far, and iOS8 definitely has a lot more under the hood to explore further. In particular we will want to return to the Health apps once Apple has all the wrinkles out of them, and of course we will keep an eye on Apple Pay once it gears up to cross the Atlantic for our use,
In the meantime if you are enjoying your upgrade, let us know via @Casslar and we can discuss any challenges and changes it might have brought about, remember too our facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Costaconnected/
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, October 10th 2014
©Maya Middlemiss, Casslar Consulting SL