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iOS 8 Review - iPad, HealthKit, HomeKit and Verdict Review

As with most recent iOS releases, iPad specific updates are conspicuous in their absence. Most of the really obvious changes come in Safari. For example, the address bar now hides when scrolling like it does on iPhones, which means you get to enjoy the screen unimpeded. Bookmarks, the Reading List and Shared Links now appear as a toolbar down the left of the screen, too, mirroring the Safari app on Macs.

These and what other tweaks exist are fine, but we’d like to see more in the upcoming iPad launch. Rumours of a larger iPad Pro 12.9 persist, which could be the catalyst, but the iPad Air (and mini to a lesser extent) could benefit from some obvious tweaks. Larger folders and support for multiple user accounts spring immediately to mind, but more creative minds could dream up more.

We’re now going to wrap up a few things that are either small or simply impossible to test right now. That includes features like HealthKit, HomeKit and Apple Pay that, while hugely important, exist in piecemeal form until they launch properly or developers start supporting them.

First comes the Metal gaming API. You can read our iOS 8 Metal Explained piece for more on this, but the key takeaway is that it lets developers access the power of the GPU far more directly than before. Think of it as like a dedicated console, which can tease more power from lower performance parts thanks to less overhead. Games haven’t really tapped into this power much so far, but the potential is significant.

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Next, HealthKit. Right now the only evidence of the HealthKit system is the Health app, but there’s not much you can do with it right now. You can input several data points manually and the selection of of things it will measure is impressively comprehensive, but it’s really meant as a data hub for third-party apps. Until they start integrating, it’s hard to judge how well or not it’ll work. The potential is there, but it’s just a shell right now.what is home kit

It’s a similar story for HomeKit, which is basically like ‘Made for iPhone’ but for smart home apps and services. Apple has created the developer tools and baked the support into iOS 8, but we’re yet to see any concrete applications of it.

Apple Pay, meanwhile, hasn’t launched yet and when it does it will start as a US-only enterprise. It’ll also, of course, be limited to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as they’re the only Apple phones to include NFC.

Finally, it’s worth touching on the improvement to Touch ID. Even before this update Touch ID was faster and more reliable than any rival system, but iOS 8 has extended this advantage. We rarely encounter failed readings now and it’s noticeably faster than on phones running iOS 7, too.
iOS 8 review

In many respects iOS 8 feels like iOS 7 part two. iOS 7 started the modernisation by introducing a completely fresh look, and iOS 8 fills it out with real substance. We’re not especially interested in whether iOS is better than Android, or vice versa, it’s a debate that’s never likely to end. But if you care about those sort of things, iOS 8 gives Apple fans plenty of ammunition to do battle with.

Clearly the third-party support is one of the key improvements, but we suspect the the extensions, new Photos app integration and iCloud Drive will have a more lasting impact than keyboards. The option to change the keyboard is great, but the flexibility that the other extensions offer feel more essential.

What really makes iOS 8, however, is Handoff and (to a lesser degree) Continuity as a whole. While Continuity still has a few things to iron out — mainly call quality and implementing the SMS syncing successfully — Handoff works brilliantly. It’s also a reminder, if it were ever needed, that owning other Apple products enriches iOS immensely. The freedom and simplicity of Handoff never gets old and the final release of Yosemite cannot come soon enough.

This tight integration, furthered by iCloud Drive and Family Sharing, remains iOS 8’s killer feature and a key reason it’s a great operating system.

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