Accompanying the iPhone 6 release was the latest iteration of the operating system that drives the Apple portable devices: iOS 8.
The launch of iOS 8 wasn’t without some problems. The first update released (8.0.1) managed to break cellular connectivity and had issues with the fingerprint reader. The iOS update 8.0.2 quickly followed; it addressed these huge problems. And the iOS 8.1 update most recently released added Apple Pay, a significant advance in mobile payments.
Apple Pay allows you to use the NFC chip in your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus for payments at participating retailers. The new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 can also use Apple Pay, but as they don’t include the NFC chip, they can only use it for in-app purchases and not at retail locations.
Yes, NFC has been available for a while in Android devices. But with the inclusion of this technology in the Apple ecosystem, the future for NFC payments looks much brighter. I’ll be following up with an article that details my hands-on use with Apple Pay soon.
iOS 8 also introduced the iCloud Photo Library, which allows you to store all your hi-res images with Apple, enabling you to share them across all your devices. That means you’ll need plenty of iCloud storage, which runs $1 per month for 20GB or $4 per month for 200GB.
8.1 reintroduces the Camera Roll folder, allowing you to see the local photos taken with your device. It was inexplicably removed after iOS 7. While Apple was trying to make things all flow together, instead it managed to upset a number of customers, prompting a quick change back.
Continuity is another new integration for iOS 8 that streamlines your workflow between Apple devices. This works with mobile devices running iOS 8 and Macs running OS 10.10, otherwise known as Yosemite, which was recently released.
Part of Continuity is Handoff, a new feature that allows you to start working on one device and finish on another. Handoff works with Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Mail, Calendar, Maps and other programs. Developers can include this functionality in their apps, so I hope we’ll see more apps become compatible soon.
Once you have Handoff enabled on your phone, you can also use your Mac or iPad to answer your phone calls, provided they’re on the same Wi-Fi network. While Messages has enabled iOS users to send and receive messages to other iOS users for a while now, with Continuity you can now send and receive SMS and MMS messages to other users outside the Apple ecosystem from your iPad or Mac.
Not on a Wi-Fi network? Continuity allows you to easily connect to your iPhone or iPad with cellular data so you can keep your devices connected.
One other thing about Handoff: you’ll need a newer Mac and device, as Handoff relies on the Bluetooth 4.0 standard. All Macs after 2012 and a couple from 2011 are capable, and iOS devices that have a Lightning charging port will work too.
HealthKit, another new feature of iOS 8, had some bugs when iOS 8 was released. But they finally got it working with 8.1.
HealthKit warrants more coverage, as it opens up your mobile device so that it becomes a fitness and health monitor. Check back for more on this.
As with all Apple devices, older ones will probably take a performance hit when you upgrade to iOS 8. But if you’re running an iPhone 5 or later, or an iPad 3 or later, you should be fine.