For many people, buying an iPhone 6 will be a decision to upgrade to a larger screen and a better camera, etc. For those who aren’t buying a new phone, they will be upgrading their devices to iOS 8. Every new version of iOS has had quick and almost immediate adoption. In 2007 when the iPhone was first announced Apple aimed to sell one million units in a year. With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, that same number has been achieved in a week. We are definitely still in love with Apple’s amazing hardware but iOS upgrades aren’t a matter of fandom and blind dedication to the company. They have always been about features; what does the new OS give you that’s worth upgrading for and through the years, Apple has given us killer features in every single version of iOS to make it worth the upgrade. We revisit those killer features again to see if iOS 8 has delivered like its predecessors and what features in the latest version are going to push the upgrades.
Back when iOS 3 was released, Apple’s hardware and software had both set a new standard for smartphones and no one had quite caught up to them. It would be a while before anyone actually came up with amazing hardware and a decent reliable enough OS to run on it. With iOS 3 and its many new features, there were two that stood out; Cut, Copy, Paste text, and Push Notifications.
Cut, Copy, Paste
This feature was where iOS played catch-up to inferior phones including simple feature phones running Nokia’s Symbian OS. To many, it might not sound like a big deal and definitely no reason to upgrade but this one feature made everything from email to texting monumentally easier. Normally, you couldn’t sell a phone on such a feature but with Apple’s offering, it worked simply because the device and the OS were good and this feature was sorely missed.
Apart from the iPhone being a great device, it also brought as mobile apps as we know them today. With users taking advantage of those apps, anything that made them more functional was going to be a killer feature. Anything that let users get more out of an app meant they would upgrade for it.
Verdict: iOS 3 brought the much missed copy/paste functionality and improved app interaction. Those two features alone were good enough to upgrade for. Factor in the other improvements and it’s easy to see why everyone was ready to upgrade like mad.
iPhone users were (and still are) very much in love with their apps and the addition of Multitasking was huge for iOS. iOS 4 debuted with the iPhone 4, a far more powerful device than its predecessors. Those on the iPhone 3GS who weren’t upgrading their phones, were still going to upgrade their OS for this feature alone. Apps weren’t just easier to access; this feature made everything better and was one of those few features that can improve the user experience for the entire OS
It’s surprising to note that Facetime was introduced before iMessages. Skype had not yet been released for iOS and the Facetime app as well as the service were both free and excellent for business and personal use so long as you had a WiFi connection.
Verdict: An improved way to use powerful apps, a new faster device that could run those apps and make multitasking easier, and a built-in video messaging service were all great reasons to upgrade both your device and iOS version. Add to this offering the other features that came in iOS 4 over it’s various iterations and you can see that upgrading was never a question.
Futuristic? Maybe. Cool? Definitely. Siri looked cool when it was announced and there was always the promise of things to get better. Older iPhones were not getting this new feature so it was more a reason for devices being upgraded than just the OS being upgraded. While it wasn’t a great feature and it would take some time for it to work well, the integration of Siri itself created enough hype to be considered a killer feature.
Like Facetime, iMessages was a big deal. There were similar services with an iOS app already available in the App Store but something from Apple that came pre-installed on every single iPhone meant that literally anyone with an iPhone was using this service. Texting was wholly different now with iMessages.
Like Push Notifications in iOS 3, Multitasking in iOS 4, Notification Center in iOS 5 was another great way to get alerts from apps. It made apps far more useful and much easier to use. It was also a great way to review notifications from multiple apps and vatch up on ones that were missed.
Verdict: Seeming futuristic Siri, iMessages released on the heels of Facetime’s success, and Notification Center that extended app usage and made it easier and quicker to access made the upgrade decision little more than a no-brainer.
This was perhaps the only iOS version to ever come out with a built-in disadvantage to it. As much as we love our iPhone and Apple manufactured devices, we love Google Maps. Where there was initially apprehension at how well the app would perform, it was soon made worse when early reports cited instances of Apple Maps failing miserably. Apple Maps was a huge thing as far as iOS 6 was concerned but it didn’t deliver and one can assume it was only the reassurance that Google would launch a Google Maps app for iOS that helped make the transition easier.
By now, social media had become quite a factor in our daily lives and Apple took perhaps the biggest step to integrate it further by adding Facebook integration. We can all agree that this isn’t a ground breaking feature but users loved it because they loved social media. Facebook had become more than a place to keep up with friends, it had become an online identity; people played games with Facebook friends, they signed up for apps using their Facebook ID, and Apple brought that very integration to iOS users.
The camera on the iPhone has always been a big deal; apart from the great photo quality from the then available hardware on the iPhone, it had helped turn the iPhone into a substitute for point & shoot cameras. The introduction of this feature made it more powerful giving users a great reason to upgrade their OS and devices.
Verdict: Although this instalment of iOS came with Apple Maps instead of Google Maps, it had two new features that users would love; social media integration and a more powerful camera. They were very personal features and coupled with everything else iOS 6 offered, the decision to upgrade was an easy one.
The new UI caused an uproar when it was first revealed; some criticized it as being ugly and others pointed out that it would be a battery drainer. There were those ho said it was amazing but it was something that made users hesitate. iOS 7’s new interface has eventually grown on us but it was a source of apprehension among everyone who wasn’t an Apple fanatic.
The ability to transfer files between iOS and OS X was something that could easily be done provided you had the right third-party app installed. It was not a novel concept and it certainly wasn’t unheard but the fact that it wasn’t going to be dependant on a third-party app and that it could work with a wide range of Macs.
iOS Integration with OS X
iOS 7 was the first step in integrating iOS with OS X. Lot of apprehension but those who have stuck with iOS and OS X over its many iterations know that Apple is great at creating closed environments that work great despite what the critics say.
Yes, Android had something exactly like this. It was a source of envy for iOS users who hadn’t jailbroken their device so Apple did the logical thing and gave it to them for free, implemented OS wide
As tired as we all were of constantly having to manually update apps, we were also wishing we could unlock our devices faster. Apple delivered a solution which would serve as the backdrop to something much bigger for a future release.
Verdict: A unified desktop and mobile, quicker access to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switches, and the ability to use your flash as a torch automatically made devices that much more useful with just a simple OS upgrade. The only negatives of this upgrade were for iPhone 4 users who saw their devices slow down and Apple ultimately had to issue a fix for it.
Ask an Android user if they can live without widgets and they’ll think you’re from another planet. To date, iOS users did not enjoy widgets; those that wanted anything remotely extra, would have to jailbreak their device. With iOS 8, widgets on iOS are now supported and that means more functionality.
This isn’t exactly for end users but it definitely gives us a good reason to upgrade; it’s a promise of device integration. Apple has a great mobile platform that people love to develop hardware and apps for. It’s one of the biggest advantages of owning an iPhone and that’s why Home Kit is such a big deal. It means the device in your hand is going to be so much more than a smartphone.
We detailed Continuity for OS X earlier when Yosemite was announced but it requires iOS 8 on your iPhone to work. If you ever wanted your phone to play nice with your desktop, this is how to get that done. The usefulness of this feature is tied to OS X of course so unless you use a Mac, it won’t be a compelling reason/feature for you to upgrade to iOS 8 for.
This is an app for the newer phones but if your device supports the new Health app it will be worth the upgrade. Up until now, manufacturers have been releasing their own apps to accompany their health tracking devices but with the Health app, they need only integrate it with the app itself. Think multiple devices and one app with a comprehensive dashboard.
Verdict: Most of the killer features in iOS 8 are available on iPhone 5 and above. iPhone 4 gets the shortest end of the stick and like iOS 7 brought the iPhone 4 to a sluggish pace, the same is being said for iPhone 4S users who have upgraded to iOS 8. It’s why you want to consider the rest of iOS 8’s offering one of which is the Health App. Again, you need a newer device to get the benefit of this app and it’s reasonable to say that iOS 8 is meant for newer devices. Apple does indeed phase the older ones out so if your device is new enough to support the good stuff, an upgrade is a good idea. If your device can’t support the more noteworthy features than the choice isn’t between whether or not to upgrade your OS but whether or not to buy a newer device.