iOS8 Interesting New Features For Old iPhones

iOS8 is the first major iOS update since iOS7 and there are some subtle updates that may not be that obvious but are pretty nice.  I’ve only been using iOS8 for quite a short time on my iPhone5 and here are some new features I found interesting.

Some of the new iOS8 iPhone wallpapers

#1 Medical ID

The new Emergency call screen with Medical ID

In iOS8, a Medical ID is a collection of information you set up in case of emergency (ICE) like your contact persons and their numbers, blood type, etc.  These information can be vital in case of emergency and with iOS8 you can now make it available even when your phone is locked.  To set this up, open the Health app, go to Medical ID → Edit.  Provide all relevant information on this screen and ensure to turn on Show When Locked under Emergency Access to make it accessible from the lock screen.

#2 Battery Usage

Battery Usage

Is your battery running low faster than the usual?  Now you can find out which apps are using your battery and by how much with the new Battery Usage feature.  To view the list, go to Settings → General → Usage → Battery Usage.

#3 Widgets

Customizing Notifications with widgets

Yes, iOS8 now supports widgets, sort of.  “Widgets” can be found exclusively in Notifications (by swiping down from the top of the screen) and they are automatically installed by your apps that support widgets.  Click the Edit button near the bottom of Notifications to customize which widget to display and your preferred order.

#4 “Hey Siri”

You may toggle this feature on this screen

You may now call Siri hands free by simply saying “Hey Siri.”  The catch though is that it works only when your phone is plugged in.  You may toggle this feature by going to Settings → General → Siri and toggling the Allow “Hey Siri” switch.

#5 Recently Deleted

Inside the Recently Deleted album

Have you ever accidentally deleted an important photo?  iOS8 now has a new Recently Deleted album where all your deleted photos go to.  In this album you may recover your deleted photos, purge them permanently, or let it stay there for a maximum of 30 days until they’re automatically deleted.

#6 Photo Search

Photo Search

If you have hundreds or even thousands of photos on your device, finding an old photo taken in a particular area can be very daunting.  iOS8 makes this task easier by letting you search your photos by their location using your photos’ geographical tags (geotags).  This is one good reason why geotagging can be useful, but avoid doing so if you’re taking confidential photos as then can now be easily searched on your phone!

#7 Keyboards

SwiftKey keyboard

Finally, iPhones can have third-party keyboards.  I don’t really think that the system keyboard was bad, but I’ve always envied Android and Windows Phone for having “swipe” keyboards out of the box.  iOS8 still doesn’t let you “swipe” out of the box, but third-party vendors can now provide that, plus more!  Right now I’m using SwiftKey as my keyboard but the iOS version has limited capabilities compared to its Android counterpart, and you can tell it was made in such a rush that it still is quite buggy.  The Enter key also doesn’t always work as expected with some apps so I don’t think you can let go of the system keyboard yet.  There are other keyboards available in the App Store now, but be very picky before you install one as whatever you type (including passwords) can be logged by these apps for their vendor’s perusal.

#8 App Switcher Contacts

You may either show shortcuts for your Favorites, Recents, or both on the top portion of the App Switcher

When you invoke the App Switcher (typically by double-clicking the home button) you may now see your favorite and recent contacts on top for quick calling or messaging.  You may customize this feature by going to Settings → Mail, Contacts, Calendars → Show In App Switcher.

#9 Self-Timer

The more-capable new photo editor

iPhones have some of the best camera in a mobile device but it actually took eight iterations of the operating system just to get a self-timer!  Prior to iOS8 you needed a separate app just to have this feature and I’m glad that somebody from Apple finally noticed this missing basic but very useful camera feature.  At long last!

#10 Time-Lapse

The new camera interface with the self-timer on top and time-lapse on the bottom extreme left

Time-lapse may not be as frequently used as the self-timer, but its inclusion may give rise to the popularity of taking time-lapse videos.  It’s not really a necessity as third-party apps have long provided this feature (with my favorite being the Hyperlapse app because of its software video stabilization) but it’s nice to have.  You know that feeling when your old phone can suddenly do something new?

I can’t say that iOS8 is that stable at this point as I’ve already experienced quite a handful of crashes and even some apps feel a bit shaky on the new version, but it’s a great update nonetheless.  There are some features from Android and Windows Phone that I still wish to find in iOS, but then again I’m pretty happy that my not so new iPhone have some new tricks.

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