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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



The Music app has been given a big overhaul with iOS 8.4, with many of the changes much needed. While the big introduction is Apple Music, the streaming service, you don’t have to sign up for it and a lot of the interface changes benefit your standard iTunes music library.

For starters, when you select an Artist from your library, you just get a list of albums to choose from.  In previous versions of iOS 8, you had to scroll through a list of all tracks. While the track list was sorted by album, you couldn’t play just one album: once you got to the final track, the first track of the next album would start automatically. The new method means you can easily just play one album. If you’d like to play all tracks, then you have the option to add all songs by an artist to the play queue.

iOS 8.4 Music App Albums

The playing queue is a new feature, too. Now, while you’re browsing through your music, you can tap the ‘…’ icon next to a track, album or artist and choose to Play Next or add them to the bottom of the Up Next queue. While this feature is hardly revolutionary, it’s something that iOS has been missing for a while and is a great way to create an on-the-fly playlist.

Apple has added a mini-player into the App, too, which appears just above the main toolbar. It lets you play and pause music, displays the current track information and gives you the shortcut button to manage the track (share, add to playlist and so on). It means that you can browse through your music collection while retaining control of your currently-playing music. Tapping the mini-player brings back the full-screen player, which has extra controls including track skip, the scrub bar, repeat and shuffle.

The Beats 1 radio station is a brand-new and free option. Headed up by Zane Lowe, it’s a traditional radio station only delivered via streaming. Depending on your musical taste, it’s a great way to discover new tracks and artists, as well as listening to some older favourites, too. It’s ad-supported, although the messages are short and not overly annoying.

On-demand radio stations also exist for most popular genres of music. These don’t have a presenter but pick tracks to stream to your device. If you have an Apple Music subscription you can listen ad-free and skip as many tracks as you like; if you don’t have a subscription you get ads and can only skip up to six tracks per hours per music station. 

iOS 8.4 Apple Music Beast 1 radio

We’ll be running a full Apple Music review soon, but it’s worth mentioning a few of its features if you take out a subscription. First, it’s neat how the streaming service is integrated into the single app; if you don’t sign-up for the paid-for service then the extra features are hidden, so you won’t suffer from lots of annoying sign-up prompts. Tracks and albums can be saved for offline usage and they can even be added to My Music, so they appear alongside all of your ‘normal’ music. There are a lot of factors that will contribute to people signing (or not) up to Apple Music, but the app is at least rather good.


Messages gets a few new features, including the ability to add voice and video notes directly to a message. We also like the new Group management features, which let you remove someone from a group when you no longer need them or to use Do Not Disturb to mute a thread, so you’re not bothered by a cacophony of incoming alert noises.

iOS 8 Message group features


Although the Email app remains largely unchanged, Apple has improved the way that Draft emails are handled. Now, you can switch back to the main inbox, while the email you’re composing drops to the bottom of the screen; just tap it to bring it back into focus. It’s much quicker than the old method of having to manually go into the Drafts folder.


Apple’s Health app collects together health and fitness data collected by other iOS 8 apps and brings everything together in one place. Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep patterns and more can all be measured and recorded on an iPhone through apps such as Nike+. The Health app also lets you create an emergency health card that’s available from the lock screen, detailing blood type, allergies and other important information.

Apple hopes that Health and the underlying HealthKit developer software will allow hospitals and medical professionals to receive health and fitness data, allowing medical information to be more easily tracked and monitored. It’s early days for the system yet, but we’re bound to see more and more apps and devices using it as time goes on.


While it maintains the look and feel of iOS 7, iOS 8 is a big step forward for the company, revamping and completely changing how it works. It’s now a more open and customisable OS, with the likes of new keyboards and Extensibility making iOS not such a strict and locked-down system. With Continuity and Handoff more tightly integrating all of your Apple devices, iOS 8 is doing something that simply can’t be done in Android or with Windows. As such, this is an essential upgrade for anyone with an older iOS device.

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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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