I just downloaded Apple's latest OS release, iOS8, onto my iPhone 4S. Right off the bat, my conclusion after playing with it for several minutes is that it's pretty cool, but I have no idea why. While I expect that if you have heard about it being released, you have already at least considered getting the update, I thought I would offer some insight into my limited experience with it.
Differences Aren't Too Noticeable
As with most new gadgets I get, I like to play around with the settings until something different pops up. This is especially obvious when new generations of the same product family are released. For example, the differences between the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 (and 3 and 4...) are pretty obvious. Visually, the graphics are noticeably better. With a backwards compatible PlayStation 2, it isn't hard to notice that the games run a lot faster as well. This is precisely why I find the update from iOS7 to iOS8 so alarming. I can't tell if there is any major performance difference.
Set aside for a moment that I downloaded it onto an iPhone 4S. Naturally, the phone would process just a tad slower due to outdated hardware. I'm not bothered by it at all; in fact, I think it still runs perfectly fine. The other thing I noticed immediately is what you see at the top of this post: the command screen (or whatever it's called). Honestly, I think it looks terrible compared to the more transparent version presented on the iOS7, but to each his or her own. It doesn't depreciate the value of the phone at all. Another aesthetic change was the font. Apple switched the default and main font over to the more noticeable Helvetica Neue. Again, it doesn't depreciate the value of the phone, but it is something they haven't done in a very, very long time. The differences for me ended there, and that's just the issue.
iOS8, undoubtedly, has made some significant improvements from iOS7, but the issue is that I, as an average customer, will have never gone through great lengths to figure out what these changes were unless I were writing this post. I think you would have a hard time finding anybody who would use their phone differently just because their operating system improved. For example, I have never used my iPhone to monitor my health. Now that Apple has introduced an in-house app that does just that, my motivation to monitor my health has neither increased or decreased. For other people, it could be iTunes. I don't know. On the other hand, I'm not saying it's entirely impossible, but it just seems little odd to me. The reason why I think this is an issue is that people should know what they're downloading. One of the biggest reasons for this is that it will generate actual discussion when people debate between the different operating systems available (do people still do that?). But when Apple tells you that the 1GB download requires 4.6GB of free space on your phone, people will delete things at great lengths in order to do so, and for what? An updated messaging app and better navigation. At the end of the day, I guess neither is important enough to make this a huge issue, but that's just my twocents.
Upon Further Investigation
I found that the iOS8 actually has some great features that, while a tad insignificant to how I operate on a daily basis, make for some interesting changes.
When Apple first introduced that it was going to allow third-party keyboards a couple months ago, people over the internet expressed that not having SwiftKey or Swype capabilities was essentially the only thing keeping them away from using iPhones. Well, now that they can download these apps (SwiftKey is free!), I guess these people will be switching to iPhones (although I don't know how much a few iPhones are going to help stocks). I won't go into anything about "Oh, Apple's copying Android now!", but I think it was a pretty good decision to at least allow the capability. So if you aren't out of free space from getting iOS8, go ahead and get the keyboards, too!
Additionally, now, when you press the home button twice, not only can you see a list of recently opened apps, you can also see a row of your most recently contacted friends at the top. I don't use it much, but I'd imagine it's pretty useful for some people who tire of the extra clicks from app to messaging app to conversation. After all, user experience dictates that the less number of button clicks it takes to get from one location to another, the better the user experience. It's all SCIENCE.
Video and audio messaging are now integrated into the Message app! While this feature has been available on some private messaging apps (such as WeChat or WhatsApp), it's great to have it on the Message app since so many people just stick to SMS and iMessage. The options are kind of limited, though, as video and audio messages either last for 2 minutes before they expire, or they never expire. Kind of a big jump, but whatever. I guess it's nice if you like to hear a certain someone's voice. I can imagine saving Morgan Freeman's voice forever.
Since we're on the topic, another cool update is the ability to instantly respond to notifications. If someone texts you, you can drag down the notification and respond to it right there. Convenient for people who can't wait for the app to open and load. Again, user experience. I'm trying my best not to sound sarcastic about this, because I actually think it's cool.
For every other change, you can check the whole slough of information online, or just go directly to the iOS8 page on Apple's website, but there were a few other changes I wanted to highlight.
Time-Lapse: The camera now offers the "Time-Lapse" video option. It's no slow-mo, but it's something. My only qualm about this is that I can't see anybody using this for any purpose other than Instragramming, in which case Hyperlapse already did it, but better.
Timer Option: I also noticed that the front-facing camera now has a timer. This is the perfect way to make your selfies even more awkward than they already are by telling your friends you're going to take a picture... and then stand there for a few extra seconds like an idiot.
I'm going to be honest: the ONLY reason I didn't continue using the Mail app is the inability for me to delete single emails at a time. Previously, the only options were "move" and "archive". I don't know where "archive" sent my mail, but it definitely was not the trash. Still, I probably won't use it since I've already set myself up on GMail and don't want to go through the process of transferring the account over to Mail.
As I said before, there are some other really cool changes, but I think only some of them will be applicable to each individual. It's the same with the Apple Watch: they've been trying to cram all these features into a single device for so long that sometimes I forget that what I'm holding is actually a phone. No matter, at least this one doesn't cost an exorbitant amount of money.
You can read more about iOS8 here. You can also learn more about iOS8 by... downloading iOS8.
What are your thoughts? Have you downloaded iOS8 yet? Are you going to? Are you excited or disappointed? MORE QUESTIONS???