With the release of iOS 8, Apple has taken another step forward in their mobile operating system platform. It is not a watershed, massive change that we saw with iOS 7. Rather it is taking what was foundational in that release and refining it further. As I write this review of iOS 8 I am compelled to remember the early days of iOS. Comparing where this platform was just 4 years ago in the iOS 4 days, it is remarkable how much has changed. iOS 8 represents the most advanced mobile platform Apple has ever produced and you could argue that it is the most refined in the market today.
But the purpose of this review of iOS 8 is not to sell you on it. I’m assuming, because you are on this site, you are already an iOS user who has upgraded to iOS 8 or that you are someone looking to move from another platform to iOS and want to find out what all the hubbub is about. Hopefully I’ll be able to satisfy both types of readers.
To start, we need to look at what has become a very foundational part of iOS 8 and indeed OS X Yosemite: iCloud. When iCloud was introduced in October 2011 (yes, it’s been that long!), it was seen as an opportunity for Apple to do better than they had done with the MobileMe service. To be honest, that was a pretty low bar. My professional opinion: MobileMe sucked.
But iCloud hasn’t exactly set the world alight. When it was introduced the expectation was that it would be Dropbox like in functionality and it proved to be anything but that. It was rigid in what file formats you could store on it, you could effectively only store from Apple apps and storage was horrendously expensive for such a limited service.
But Apple kept at it, slowly tweaking and improving the service. They also kept building and improving their data centres globally, adding more and more capacity. They were playing in the long game and were willing to take their lumps against Dropbox and OneDrive for the long term gain of their vision.
Last year in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 it began to really take hold with it being a more integrated part of the platform. Now, in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, iCloud is very much part of the fabric. The line between “on the device” and “in the cloud” has blurred and that is evident in several of the new features of iOS 8. In fact as you read on in this review of iOS 8, you are going to read a common theme of iCloud integration with applications. Indeed I would contend that is increasingly more difficult for someone who wants iOS to not use it with iCloud. Like Google has done with Android and Chrome and to a much greater degree Microsoft has done with Windows Phone and Windows, it is time to pick your ecosystem readers. Playing in more than one is getting ever more difficult because operating systems are dependent on cloud services and vice versa.
But not impossible.
iCloud has grown up a huge amount in a short period of time and the fluidity between apps and storage is now borderless. That’s exactly what Apple (and Google, and Microsoft) want it to be. The question is will you jump in with both feet.
Enough with iCloud, I think I’ve made my point. Let’s talk about iOS 8 and the design and new features (or refinement in most cases) of the latest Cupertino has to offer us.