iOS 8 review

iOS 8 review: QuickType Keyboard

When typing, the new QuickType feature suggests words which you can tap on to add them to your sentence. This isn’t only based on the current word you’re typing: it also predicts what you might type next. It’s surprisingly effective and on occasions correctly predicts a string of words, allowing you to simply tap on each to quickly build up a sentence. You can swipe downwards on the suggestions to hide them, and swipe up to reveal them again.

Predictions are context aware, so you’ll see different words depending on the app. In Mail, you’ll get more formal suggestions while in Messages, the words tend towards more casual speech.

iOS 8 review

Apple has also opened up the keyboard to developers, so you’ll soon be able to download different keyboards – as you can with Android – and get Swype-style capabilities for typing by swiping. One should be available on the app store almost immediately after iOS 8 is released: SwiftKey. Don’t confuse it with the SwiftKey Note app, which is different.

iOS 8 review: Little tweaks

Throughout the operating system you’ll notice little differences that make your life that bit easier. For example, when in the Mail app, you can now swipe across the screen to quickly delete or archive a message instead of having to tap the delete or archive button. Swiping right instead of left marks a message as read (or unread if you’ve already opened it). Plus, a new Flag option means you can quickly mark an email without opening it.

The action button is more useful than before, allowing you to share things via even more apps thanks to the fact that this is another area where Apple has allowed developers in.

iOS 8 review

In fact it isn’t really fair to include these ‘extensions’ in the little tweaks section, but this new feature means apps can share information with each other in iOS 8 rather than having to run in its own little isolated world. It’s more than simply sharing a photo to Facebook or Twitter: it means is that you can have widgets in Notification Centre and that you’ll see extra extensions appear in the sharing menu in lots of apps.

They’re customisable, too. When you scroll to the end of the ‘activities’ list, a More… option lets you change the order so you can get to your most-used actions without scrolling. The same is true of the list of apps, and you can also turn off certain options so they don’t appear in the list at all. So if you don’t use Flickr, there’s no need to have that cluttering up the list.

Double-tapping the Home button in iOS 8 still brings up the multi-tasking screen but you’ll see recent contacts as well as apps. Tap on a face and you’ll get various options such as calling them, sending a message or using FaceTime. It makes it a bit faster to keep in touch with people you speak to often.

iOS 8 review

Siri is much the same as before, but can now identify music that’s playing thanks to a tie-in with Shazam. Usually, you’ll also see a Buy button so you can purchase it from iTunes. (You can see what Apple did there. Clever.)

Settings have grown, and there’s a new battery usage menu which shows (like Android does) which apps are eating up your power. This is great for quickly working out why your battery is draining, rather than killing all the apps and using a process of deduction.

iOS 8 review

It’s a shame, though, that there’s still no way to search for a specific setting, even using the new Spotlight search. Instead of the ‘Search this iPhone’ box when you drag downwards on a home screen, you now see Spotlight Search which also searches the web and Wikipedia, depending on your query: it’s context aware. Given the sheer number of settings in iOS 8, it’s a pain that Spotlight doesn’t cover them as well.

Next section: iOS 8 review: Continuity