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iOS 8 Review - Performance, Battery Life & Family Sharing Review

iOS 8 Review: App Store and Family Sharing

Here we come to some seriously hefty features for developers and users alike. Developers gain the ability to create app bundles and previews using videos, while Family Sharing gives parents some meaningful control over what their kids can buy. In fact, Family Sharing is one of the easiest to overlook but most vital additions to iOS in years. Parents will love it.

Family Sharing lets you link up to five Apple accounts in a family. Your family get to share all purchased music, movies and books and eligible apps, and the organiser  — who also pays for everything — gets to approve purchases and set limits.

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This means that when little Timmy wants you buy that album full of swear words, the organiser gets a pushed alert to their device(s) where they can approve or deny the request. This wouldn’t actually happen, though, as parents can also restrict the type of content that their kids can view. Permissions are flexible, so some accounts don’t have to get permission to buy things, and those with the right privileges can hide purchases.

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Other features include dedicated family Photo Streams and calendars and the ability to keep track of everyone’s location and their devices.

All of this is great, but it’s the ability to manage children’s accounts and purchases that’s the big draw. The only missing feature is there’s still no multiple account support for individual devices, something that the iPad would benefit from hugely. We have a sneaking suspicion Apple might unveil this with the new iPad’s, and if it doesn’t plan to it really ought to.

iOS 8 Review: Performance & Battery Life

We’ve covered performance to a degree in our iOS 8: Should you update? feature. The abridged version is that anyone with an iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or original iPad mini should really give iOS 8 a miss for now. Future updates could improve performance, but for now performance isn’t up to snuff.

Anything iPhone 5 related or upwards, however, is on fairly safe ground. iOS 8 runs slightly slower overall, but not so much that you’ll notice it. The video below shows iOS 7 against iOS 8 on two iPhone 5S handsets. Neither phones were ‘fresh’ but the differences are very slight indeed.

iOS 7 vs iOS 8 video

As for battery life, it’s a similar story. Battery issues immediately after iOS updates are common, but you shouldn’t see dramatic differences. If you do then consult our iOS 8 battery problems guide for potential solutions.

In our tests we saw between 20 to 40 minutes less battery life on the iPhone 5S. It’s just about enough that you might notice it, but not enough to really change your habits. If you normally get through a day then you should still do so. We haven’t seen any dramatic problems caused by widgets, either, as they update only when you activate the Today view.

Apple’s also instigated some useful ways to keep things under control. Apps that use location now have the option to turn it on only when the app is in use, rather than it being only off or on. Not all apps support this yet (Foursquare is a notable exception), but it’s a useful way to prevent apps leeching battery in the background while retaining functionality when in use.

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There’s also a new Battery Usage monitor. This shows the percentage of battery power apps have used over the last 24 hours and over seven days. It’s a useful way to spot any discrepancies, though Apple could make it even more useful by including the amount of ‘active’ time to expose any particularly greedy apps.

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

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Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

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