Apple released the much-vaunted iOS 8 overnight. After eagerly downloading the massive 1GB update, I was keen to see the differences. After over an hour it was finally ready to roll. I switched on my 5s and was well, frankly, a little underwhelmed.
After the huge cosmetic changes of iOS 7, I guess most users would be expecting a visual feast to gorge their eyes on. But iOS 8 is much less about cosmetic changes and much more about what happens under the hood.
Think about it like a car. If iOS 7 was all about new body styling then iOS 8 is about a brand new engine. With a turbo. And superchargers. And a flux capacitor.
Initially, you might be hard-pressed to spot any huge differences as the aesthetics are pretty similar. But as you delve in much deeper, the myriad of changes and upgrades become very obvious indeed.
My personal favourite is the revamped keyboard. As a previous user of a Blackberry Z10 (yes I was one of the very few who had one and have kept it as a museum piece for the future) the one thing I loved about it was the smart, intuitive interface. Basically its prediction model was genius. And it learned from your mistakes (I have an annoying tendency to press the A instead of the S on a QWERTY keyboard – don’t ask me why). So given my name is Steve (not Ateve) that proves to be somewhat of an issue for me. The Z10 learned swiftly that I have this AS affliction and auto corrected me (or at least showed me more sensible options on the keyboard). iOS 8 has a similar way of dealing with people with fat fingers which makes typing an altogether more pleasurable experience.
Also another neat feature on messages, is when you receive an email from someone new, it provides a little pop-up on top of the message as an option to immediately capture their details in a new contact. Nifty.
So what else has 8 got to offer. Well smarter Siri comes as part of the package. In fairness I never quite got the hang of Siri and haven’t had time to give a proper test drive to th is all new and improved version but I hear it is excellent (but maybe Siri told me that).
The most important development for iOS 8 is actually the ability to allow developers to properly design stuff for the platform, such as widgets and alternative keyboards. Apple has made it much more open source (akin to Android) and will allow developers (amongst other things) to take advantage of its biometric TouchID sensor, have access to the camera API and to the new HealthKit/ HomeKit/ CloudKit platforms which have been created specifically to attract developers to these new Apple ecosystems.
And as the developers get their eager little coding fingers on the new platform, the true potential of iOS 8 will inevitably be realised…