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Apple iOS 8.4 review – all the new features

Apple iOS 8
Our Rating :

A big upgrade in terms of features, iOS 8.4 is now easier to use and a much more open operating system


Camera app

Apple has given the Camera app a slight tweak adding in a couple of new features. Time-Lapse is one great new addition, capturing video at a slow frame rate, so you can capture a long event and view it in a short period of time, such as bustling crowds, or clouds floating overhead. It’s pretty clever the way it works, too, adjusting the frame rate to match the duration of the video. There’s a great explanation of this over at Studio Neat.


With previous versions of the OS, the iCloud cloud storage service was there for backup, photos and documents, but these functions largely stayed separate from one another. With iOS 8, iCloud has changed. For starters, you can save documents from any supported app into your iCloud Drive, which is then accessible from any supported app on your iPad, Mac or Windows PC. Likewise, you can drag-and-drop files from Windows or your Mac into iCloud drive, and then access then from your iPad or iPhone.

It’s going to take a while for developers to add in iCloud support into every app, but this is definitely a move in the right direction. Just watch out, as some developers are charging for iCloud access, such as for DocsToGo.

Find my iphone

Find My iPhone gets an overhaul, with a new option letting your handset send its last location to Apple when it runs low on battery. This is a really handy feature if you lose your handset when it’s just about to run out of power.


With iCloud you used to only be able to share the last 30 days’ worth of images, up to 1,000 photos in total. This meant that on every device, you had your Camera Roll and My Photo Stream, each with different photos. Apple wants to change this with the iCloud Photo Library, which is in Beta with iOS 8.

This will automatically upload all of your photos to the iCloud (including RAW files) and keep them there, so that you can view them from any device. From your iPhone or iPad, you can choose to download the full-resolution versions, or versions optimised for your phone’s or iPad’s storage.

Turning the iCloud Photo Library (it’s under Settings->iCloud->Photos) disables your iCloud Photo Stream, so it’s really an all-or-nothing feature that you need to enable on all of your devices. Fortunately, the OS X app (Photos) has now been released, so you can happily upgrade all of your Apple mobile devices and computers.

The big benefit of the new system is that you have all of your photos on all of your devices, and any organisational changes, such as creating new albums, are reflected across everything. You also get some basic editing tools (Crop, and colour, brightness and contrast adjustment), with changes also reflected across all of your devices. The iOS app is a bit more limited compared to the OS X app: you can’t add tags and the Faces data isn’t pulled in. From an iPad/iPhone point of view, we love having all of our photos on tap, although it would be better if you could edit tags and view the faces data to make searching for an image easier. 

There are two main reasons that you might not want to upgrade to iCloud Photos. First, with OS X all of your photos are put into a library file; if you want your original images as well, you’ll have to store them elsewhere, which effectively means you’re storing duplicates. Secondly, you’ll need more iCloud storage, although Apple has dramatically dropped its cloud storage prices

iOS 8.3 Photos

Apple has also update the photo viewer in iOS 8, so you can now hide photos that you don’t want other people to see, by long-pressing a photo and selecting Hide. All photos that you do this to appear in the special Hidden folder. More useful to most people is that recently deleted photos are moved to the Recently Deleted folder, letting you recover them before they’re gone for good.

Recover deleted photos in iOS 8


Apple has made iOS 8 its most open operating system yet. With previous versions, the company was always extremely strict in some areas. For example, you couldn’t install a different keyboard and an app couldn’t add its own Widget into the Today screen. With iOS 8 that all changes. Now you can download and install your own keyboards, switching between them at will. It’s a bit of a faff to do, as you have to download the keyboard app, then select it in Settings as one you’d like to use and then give it full access to the system. However, it’s great to see Apple finally taking this step. While we think that its new keyboard is a big improvement, there are plenty of other alternatives out there, such as the excellent SwiftKey.

 Swiftkey iOS 8

It’s good to see that Apps can now add their own widgets into the Today screen, too, letting you get the information you want much faster. There’s still no full home screen widgets, Android style, but both approaches have their merits: Android gives you complete flexibility, but it can look messy and you have to remember which home screen your widget is on; Apple’s arguably less flexible, but having everything in one simple menu that you can access from anywhere is extremely useful.

Extensibility goes further, too, letting you carry out an action in one application from another. For example, you can use photos to browse your images, but then open up Camera+ or Fragment to edit the photos. For this to work an application has to support Extensions and you have to enable the operation from each app you want to use it in. Still, it’s a great thing to see and having more choice and flexibility in iOS 8 is something that we’ve all been calling out for.


Apple’s keyboard has always been a little basic, but QuickType is a huge improvement. As you type, you get choices of words and phrases appearing above the keyboard, which you can tap to autocomplete. It also learns, so text messages are more colloquial than emails, and you get an easier tone with friends and more formal one with colleagues. It’s pretty neat and we found that it really improved our typing speed, while cutting out errors that the old auto-complete system would make.

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Key specs
Supported devicesiPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display, iPod Touch 5th Generation

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