iOS 8 review

iOS 8 review: iCloud Drive

The new iCloud Drive works like traditional cloud storage where you choose which files to put in iCloud Drive. Before, iCloud automatically synchronised only certain data and you couldn’t get at specific files, photos or videos as you can with Dropbox, for example.

There’s no iCloud app, but when you’re in an app which supports iCloud Drive, you will be able to see the contents of your drive with a familiar folders and files view.

Plus, there's the new iCloud Photo Library. This goes beyond My Photo Stream (which still exists) and lets you store and access your entire photo - and video - library in iCloud. Previously, there was no way to automatically send videos to iCloud so you could view them on other devices. Now there is, and that’s very good news.

The not so good news is that you have to pay for it. Yes you get 5GB for free and yes the cost per GB is much lower than last year, but photos and videos now count against the 5GB and 5GB isn’t going to be enough to back up even the smallest capacity iPhone.

iOS 8 review: Health app

A brand new app for iOS 8, Health integrates fitness and health information into one place. It’s early days so we haven’t been able to test out the Health app yet. We do know it will be able to import data from certain activity trackers, such as the Nike Fuelband, and heart rate monitors.

iOS 8 review

It will also work with health apps and help you track your health and fitness, monitor your cholesterol, vitamin intake and much more. You can also create an emergency ‘card’ with vital information about allergies, blood type, current medications and anything else that emergency services might need.

You can choose what information to share (or not) and everything is encrypted when you phone is locked.

iOS 8 review: security

iPhones are more valuable to thieves, and are therefore more likely to be stolen. The police know this, and Apple knows this. In iOS 8, security has been beefed up even more than in iOS 7, making a stolen iPhone pretty much unusable. That’s why it’s important to avoid skipping over steps during setup when you get a new phone.

When you restart an iPhone running iOS 8, Control Centre and Notification Centre won’t work until you unlock it (and neither will Siri, if you’ve set it to be available on the lock screen), and this prevents anyone enabling flight mode if they steal your phone, turn it off and then back on again later.

Extensions are much like Android’s intents where you’re asked which app you want to use to accomplish a task. However, Apple claims to have made this a lot more secure. Rather than the whole app running, a ‘stub’ is used to carry out the task – such as posting to LinkedIn – and apps can’t share data.

Privacy is critical, too, and iOS 8 now warns you when an app has been using your location in the background, and offers to take you to Settings where you can prevent that happening, or allow it to continue.

iOS 8 review: Verdict

With all the new features, extra security and privacy, and the fact it’s free, getting the update is a no-brainer. Download it as soon as Apple’s servers will allow.

The only exception is if you’re an iPhone 4s owner (and there are a lot of you). Performance on the 4s is an unknown, but going by past iOS updates, the oldest supported devices tend to be slower as they struggle to cope with the extra demands. We’re not saying you shouldn’t update, but it’s well worth holding on as long as it takes for others to report back on whether iOS 8 runs smoothly or not.

We tested iOS 8 on an iPhone 5c over the last few months and even though we were using beta versions, there was never an issue with performance – it runs at least as well as iOS 7. That means anyone with an iPhone 5, 5c or 5s should have no speed issues and is pretty safe to update immediately.

OUR VERDICT

With all the new features, extra security and privacy, and the fact it’s free, getting the update is a no-brainer. Download it as soon as Apple’s servers will allow.