iOS 8 - More Than I Expected

Before leaving for WWDC 20141, I wrote a small post with my iOS 8 Wish List. I’m glad to say that the announced features of iOS 8 cover way more than I expected. I’ll break it up in the same major features I expected, and see how the announced features fit.

Multi User Support on the iPad

On my wish list, I wrote:

Ever since the first launch of the iPad, multi user support was a rumored feature. I always thought Apple’s rationale behind not providing multi user support was two-fold: it would add complexity to the platform, and it might take away some sales (why get a second iPad if I can just create a user for the kids?).

While we did not get multi-user support, we got Family Sharing. Instead of focusing on sharing the physical products Apple is focusing on sharing the digital assets. Its a different problem to take on, but at least it acknoledges the same underlying problem: some households might have a multitude of iOS devices and users.

With Family Sharing, Apple is making it simpler to do what we already do: share our purchases with other members of our family. We do it by sharing a main Apple ID to make purchases. Now it will be easier to do, and I’m glad.

As for Multi-User Support on the iPad, it is still missing, but I guess if we are ever going to get it, having Family Sharing in place before might make things simpler later.

Some sort of File Management

I was pessimistic on this one:

Sadly here, I don’t see Apple doing any sort of File Manager on iOS. Even more, I think they are moving in the opposite direction with iCloud storage on Mac apps, where each file type is tied to the app that created it. But given that this is my wish list, I figure it’s fine to dream.

Not only Apple is backtracking with its Documents in the Cloud approach (the new iCloud is closer to Dropbox than to the old iCloud), but they are allowing third party apps to be document providers by means of extensions.

This is huge. It has the potential to create lots of new use cases, and even some that we can’t imagine but will only realise were possible when we see the app in the store.

From all the Extension types iOS will now allow, this can prove to be the biggest game-changer for the OS.

System Contributions from apps

I missed the obvious name here, but Extensions are amazing and provide more than what I imagined. I always imagined Share Extensions and Notification Center widgets to be something obvious, but I never expected Photo Editing (with in place modifications), third party keyboards or the new features for document management.

This is great, and really opens the door for amazing new apps and use cases.

OS X / iOS integration

When I imagined this, I don’t think I was aiming as high as the iOS 8 team is with Continuity. I expected a few simple things:

  • Trigger certain notifications only when your phone is away from the Mac.
  • Establish a secure link between the Mac and iOS and use Touch ID to unlock your Mac.
  • Have an iPad act as an AirPlay display if you want to, etc.

Instead of this, we got something bigger and better:

  • There is some great integration of devices, as I expected. This is what allows you to get SMS’ on your Mac, or have the iPhone dial a phone number.
  • Handoff will allow third party apps to allow users to continue what they were doing on another device. This even works between a mobile app and a website, by registering your URL with Apple. I can’t count the times I emailed myself a draft I was writing on the iPhone only to later complete on the Mac and send it.

There’s way more stuff in iOS 8 than what I covered here. But given my short wish list, I can say Apple nailed almost every feature I wanted and then some. I really look forward to both be a user of some of these features, and be able to have some users benefit from these in apps we create.

  1. I’m yet to write my WWDC post. It was such an amazing experience, that I’ve found it hard to write about. I’ll try to make it up soon.