Deep New Features Make iOS 8 More User Friendly

June 27, 2014 •

iOS 8 Features splash

iOS 7 made intense and bold changes to the iPhone user interface. It was, perhaps, the most sweeping design change since iOS 3 launched years ago. The feature changes in iOS 8 are as stark as iOS 7’s interface. A complete feature set overhaul is not limited to individual applications, but pans throughout the operating system.

One of the largest departures is the way iOS 8 handles notifications. Notifications were first included in iOS 5 but have not changed much since their inception. Originally a tweak by the jailbreak community, banner notifications allowed for unobtrusive quick, drop down items that alerts the user to certain items, weather, calendar appointments, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. These windows, until iOS 8, were simply static. Again, the jailbreak community was able to make these banner notifications active. Most notably, the ability to quickly reply to text messages without having to switch to the Messages app. Examples of this currently run on jailbroken devices using auki and BiteSMS.

Assumedly taking inspiration from the jailbreak community, although never willing to admit it, Apple released the ability to interact with notifications in iOS 8, but not just text messages. In the product demonstration, Apple showed off the ability to respond to Facebook actions, accept/decline calendar invitations, and included the ability for third party developers to enhance their notifications with actions. The option to respond instantly to messages without having to switch apps will certainly enhance the user experience.

iOS 8 Interactive Notifications

In addition to making things a little easier to access through notifications, favorite and recent contacts are now accessible in the multitasking interface, which is accessed by double pressing the Home button. Tapping their contact image will provide quick access to either call, text or FaceTime the person. Picking up some time in Mail, a quick swipe can mark email as read or flagged. Inbox mail will now suggest permanently adding new contacts or recognize flight information.

Speeding up the typing process, predictive text now appears above the standard keyboard. As words are completed, the tray above the keyboard suggests words to tap-complete. While this feature is standard to many industry keyboards, Apple takes this integration a little farther. When texting, the keyboard also offers contextual suggestions. For example, if you are asked a question in the message, the words will suggest a response.

iOS 8 Predictive Text

Additionally, the keyboard monitors with whom you are speaking and with what app. Picking up on casual conversation with specific people in the Messages app, the predictive keyboard will suggest more laid back words. Where as an email will offer more formal vocabulary.

The last keyboard enhancement is quite a turn for Apple. Typically option to control every minute detail of the operating system through a “walled garden” approach, Apple does not offer third-party control over any UI items. A change of heart, iOS 8 will allow the installation of third-party keyboards. A feature Android users have long preferred, swipe-to-type keyboards will now be coming to iOS 8.

iOS 8 Swipe to Type

iOS 8 will be released this fall, traditionally with the launch of iPhone. For additional information about iPhone 6 or iOS 8, keep checking back for more information.