iOS 8: More Lows Than Highs?

By | October 6, 2014
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Tim Cook has every reason to be happy with the burgeoning sales reports of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. However, he and his colleagues are probably concerned about the many snags in the new iOS 8 platform that are being reported. We have here focused on some key issues with the mobile OS.

 

In the domain of mobile technology, Apple Inc. hogged all the headlines in September. Tim Cook and his team launched iPhone 6 (and its bigger phablet-cousin, iPhone 6 Plus) amidst much fanfare at a Cupertino event. As had been expected from the frenzy and anticipation among Apple-fans, the initial sales figures of the new flagship smartphones have been excellent – with the 4.7” iPhone 6 reportedly closing in on 20 million sales. What those in charge at Apple had not accounted for were the multifarious snags in iOS 8 (the platform which debuted on the new handsets) that would soon become apparent. It has been nearly a month since the arrival of iPhone 6, and these have been the chief user-complaints about iOS 8:

 

  1. Bug in wi-fi connectivity – A problem that has been reported by early adopters of iPhone 6 as well as those who have upgraded the mobile OS on their iPhone 5 handsets. The bug is causing frequent connection drops, problems in identifying and registering on new networks, and a general unsatisfactory browsing experience. Software and mobile app developers have found that re-starting the wi-fi settings serves as a temporary solution of this issue.
  2. Keyboard usage problems – Much to the delight of, well, any user, Apple has finally made a mobile platform that supports third-party keyboards. However, it is pretty clear that, till date, this customization option is not entirely without flaws. People have reported problems in connecting with external keypads, and there have been usability issues with the native phone keypad as well. A new update that irons out these problems is expected soon.
  3. Sorry state of Bluetooth connectivity – Oh well, this has raged on even after Apple released the iOS 8.0.2 upgrade. Users are finding it rather tricky to connect their new iPhones with their vehicle audio systems and headsets. There is a growing discontent about the connectivity with Bluetooth speakers too. Logging out of iCloud and rebooting the devices is a way to work around this problem – but it’s definitely not a satisfactory one!
  4. Excessive battery drain – To be fair, not everyone has experienced this problem, and you do not expect a high-end smartphone to have spectacularly high battery-life either. Even so, there have been a buzz in online Apple forums and iPhone app development communities that some devices upgraded to iOS 8 have lost a rather significant chunk of their battery performance. There won’t be any magic remedy for this – but the Apple engineers would surely find a way to do away with excessive battery drain problems, soon.
  5. Sluggish mobile web browsing – This was definitely not a problem anyone had anticipated. Upgrading to iOS 8 (or purchasing an iPhone 6/6 Plus) have compromised with the overall web browsing speeds for many users worldwide. The main complaint refrain is the same – web pages are taking comparatively longer to load properly in devices powered by the new mobile OS. For people who surf the internet on the go and/or love to use web-supported mobile applications regularly, this is definitely something to be concerned about.
  6. Hardly anyone has loved the free U2 album – We are not suggesting that the U2 band is no longer cool or anything. It’s just that, surveys conducted by mobile app developers have conclusively revealed that users do not want stuff being ‘pushed’ to their devices (even when they are free), and prefer ‘pulling’ things themselves. Also, the popularity of downloading music is on the wane, since live music-streaming has emerged as a much more convenient option. Thankfully, Apple has provided an option to remove the free U2 album from the new iPhones.
  7. iMessage and Notifications troubles – A relatively minor glitch, but a glitch nevertheless. If the ‘Alerts’ option is selected under Notifications, it is practically impossible to compose a Quick Reply to any new text message (without having to toggle from the screen a user was originally on). The only option to tackle this problem till now is to select the ‘Banners’ notification option. That way, message notifications can be pulled down easily, and replies can be composed much more quickly.
  8. Crash reports in the Settings app – A lot of the common issues with iOS 8 platform can be addressed by tweaking the built-in Settings app. The problem is, even this application has been reported as buggy by several users – with frequent crashes being cited as the main proof for that. Another telltale indication of snags in the Settings app is the sluggishness that seems to plague the new phones, after any feature has been changed.
  9. iPhone 6 bendgate – Okay, this problem has got nothing to do with the tech features of iOS 8 – but it has added to the negativity about the new mobile platform. The all-new aluminum body of the iPhone 6 Plus is susceptible to get noticeably bent, when kept in front/back pockets for 15-18 hours. The ‘bendgate’ controversy has become the butt of jokes, memes and sarcastic competitive advertising by Apple’s main rivals – and if the problem persists, it is going to hurt the popularity of iOS 8 in the long-run.
  10. Much higher average crash rate – The average crash rate of iOS 8 devices is almost 80% higher than those running on iOS 7! That, in turn, is making many people apprehensive about upgrading to the new platform. Of course, a clearer picture would be available after a few months, when Apple has finished with all the preliminary bug-fixing procedures. For now though, stability is a major issue with iOS 8.
  11. Malfunctioning Twitter app – Interactive notifications and the share widget have been great additions to the pre-built Twitter app for the new flagship iPhones. However, regular users of the microblogging site have not been entirely pleased with its performance. There have been intermittent losses in connectivity, significant lags in new tweets becoming visible, and other such irritants. For greater acceptance in ‘twitterverse’, iOS 8 needs to be more polished!
  12. The loss of face with iOS 8.0.1 – It’s not that those up top at Apple had not envisaged that the new platform might run into a few problems in the initial stages. Sadly, the update they came up with to ‘solve’ these problems – iOS 8.0.1 – was nothing short of a horror show. Not only did it not address most of the use-complaints, implementing it also led to a much higher rate of call drops. The iOS 8.0.2 update has been better (although Bluetooth problems are yet to be fixed), and a full-blown iOS 8.1 upgrade might soon be announced.

 

Reports that apps crash about 3%-4% of the time (on average) on iOS 8 have got iPhone app developers from all over rather worried. The fact that 5.8 GB of free space is required for installing iOS 8 is a problem for many users as well. Apple needs to improve iOS 8 considerably, and in rather quick time – failing which, the new platform might well turn out to be a flop.

 

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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