I wrote approximately 15,000 words to review iOS 8. Yet, I inexplicably forgot a couple of things that I wanted to talk about. I have had notes about these things since June, and I intended to include them. I’m just a bit of an idiot.
I’ve updated the review, but these are the salient parts, for your convenience. On performance and battery life:
My hardware is admittedly very recent; until a week ago, I was on the very latest and greatest iOS devices. So it comes as no surprise that iOS 8 has been buttery smooth on both of my devices, with only the faintest whiff of lag in some animations on my iPad.
Unfortunately, on older hardware like the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2, iOS 8 is really slow. Based on what Ars Technica is reporting, I imagine that those devices barely qualified for an update on Apple’s terms. One hopes that performance may improve in a future update.
Battery life seems to be equal to that of iOS 7. I haven’t noticed a significant improvement nor worsening. Your mileage may vary.
The most significant improvement to Siri is that it now displays its interpretation of your dictation in real time. It works so well that I completely forgot about it when I initially published this review, but it’s there, and it’s really great. To turn on live dictation shows that Apple is clearly far more confident in the speech recognition abilities of Siri this year. It’s really, really nice.
On the Tips app:
There’s a host of new functionality in iOS 8, and some of it is a little tricky to find — consider the additional gestures in Mail, or the swipe-to-send-audio gesture in Messages. Apple has therefore provided a built-in app to provide you tips on how to use iOS 8 better. It’s a really simple app, with little video hints, sort of like those that play on the screens behind the Genius Bar at an Apple Store.
Apple promises that they’ll push out new tips regularly, and they offer push notifications if you’d like to be alerted to new tips.
For those keeping count, by the way, Apple has added four new default apps — Podcasts, iBooks, Health, and Tips — that cannot be removed from the home screen, except to be nestled into the folder where you already keep Newsstand and Game Centre.
And about Settings:
There are two great new features in the Settings app. First, every app on your phone now gets a menu in Settings, regardless of whether the developer puts the app’s settings in the Settings app. This makes it way easier to get at an app’s settings for typical app functions, like notifications, cellular data usage, privacy, and so forth. This can be a little confusing if an app also has options within the app for changing its settings. Perhaps this is some sort of giant nudge from Apple.
iOS 8 also brings the power consumption shaming menu from Mavericks. You can now see what apps are using the most of your battery life under General, Usage, Battery Usage. Unlike Mavericks, these are not real-time results; you can select usage from the past 24 hours, or the past seven days. In some instances, there will be an explanation for why an app is consuming extra battery power. For example, Tweetbot consumed 21% of my battery life in the past 24 hours, but that’s because I apparently kept using it when my phone had a low signal. Mail and NYT Now, on the other hand, can blame their power consumption on background activity.
This isn’t necessarily as definitively shaming as you might think, though. Apps that you use most will, obviously, consume more battery power than apps you use less frequently. In the past seven days, my home and lock screen usage is at 18%, but that’s because I kept getting notifications and replying to them from the lock screen. Par for the course.
But if you notice an app near the top that you use infrequently, that’s a good indication that it’s inefficient. It would probably be more useful to have a weighted list that takes into consideration the amount of time the app is being actively used versus the amount of energy it consumes.