After four developer betas, iOS 8.3 finally arrived on Wednesday. We have here highlighted the major additions and improvements in the latest iteration of the iOS 8 mobile platform.
A couple of days back, Apple Inc. released the final version of the iOS 8.3 update. The first beta of the new version had been rolled out in February, and it took the Cupertino tech giants close to two months to smoothen its rough edges, and make it available to iOS-device users. Just as the expectations had been, iOS 8.3 comes with quite a few interesting new features, fixes and general improvements. We will here list out some of the best things about iOS 8.3:
- CarPlay wireless connectivity – You can now stop using that old Lightning Cable. Once you upgrade your iPhone to the latest version of iOS, you will able to connect it to Apple CarPlay in wireless mode. The connection is quick and, as per early reports, interruption-free. Using your handset on the go just got a bit easier!
- Improved App Rotation and Visual Orientation – iPhone app developers as well as general users had confirmed that the screen of iPhone 6/6 Plus (running on on earlier versions of iOS 8) often appeared upside down, after the device was taken out of a pocket. What’s more – in the multitasking mode, the pre-installed applications rotated incorrectly. All of these problems have been fixed in iOS 8.3. Toggling between the portrait and landscape view modes is no longer a problem either.
- Siri gets a smarter edge – It’s not quite the perfect mobile digital assistant yet, but Siri is definitely moving in the right direction. In iOS 8.3, Siri is packed with greater language compatibility, with Thai, Russian, Portuguese and Dutch being some of the new supported languages. In addition, the virtual iPhone assistant is now able to tell the difference between messages sent from unknown senders, and those from contacts. New accents have also been built-in.
- Host of new emojis – Most software critics and mobile app development experts feel that the emoji keyboard is the biggest surprise that iOS 8.3 packs in. New/Upcoming Apple gadgets, like the new Mac and Apple Watch, have separate emojis, while there are plenty of emojis depicting people and families. The total emoji count built in the iOS 8.3 platform is well over 300. The skin tone of the individual emojis can be changed too. Clearly, Apple is on a mission to give a more personalized experience to iPhone users.
- Two factor account authentication – It was a long time coming, and iOS 8.3 finally brings Google’s much-vaunted two-factor authentication system to the table. People would no longer require separate passwords (unique to every app), to add multiple Google accounts on their handset. The presence of two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of mobile security too.
- Support for high-end braille displays and Photos app – iCloud Photo Library has been upgraded in iOS 8.3 (out of beta). After installing the OS X 10.10.3 update on your Mac system, you can now sync all your phone images with the revamped Photos app. The new mobile platform delivers top-class support for Braille displays – thanks to its complete compatibility with VarioUltra 40 and Baum VarioUltra 20.
- Passbook is more systematic and user-friendly – A relatively minor fix, but one that would add to the convenience factor of iDevice users. The Passbook app in iOS 8.3 can now seamlessly separate Passes from all the Apple Pay content. With mobile payments and wallet management getting popular by the day, Apple Pay and Passbook needed a facelift. Apple has done just that.
- Better app performance assurance – For users and professional iOS app developers alike, this is a big relief. The earlier versions of iOS (iOS 8.1 in particular) had more than their fair share of problems – one of which was making the apps installed in devices perform slowly. Once you have upgraded your handset to iOS 8.3, you will find that installing and launching applications have become a lot easier. The improvement in the responsiveness of iPhone apps is also significant.
- More reliable Bluetooth and Wifi – iOS 8.3 finally comes out of the mesh of connectivity issues that its predecessors suffered from. Mobile app testers and early adopters have confirmed that the wireless connectivity on the upgraded platform is stable, with minimal chances of random connection drops. The frustrations of having to repeatedly type in your login information are a thing of the past now – and neither do you have to worry about audio problems in the Bluetooth speakers. The hands-free voice calling feature has also been made more stable.
- Improved keyboard – There had been complaints reported from iPhone 6 Plus users (in particular) about the dimensions of the ‘space’ and the ‘period’ (stop) tabs in the device keyboard. While typing quickly, many people have tried to enter a space, and ended up including a period in their typed text. The keyboard of the latest iOS version has been redesigned, to address this problem. The period tab has been made smaller, while the spacebar is significantly larger. While typing messages, or searching for Safari, chances of erroneous addition of periods have been minimized. The addition of the new Chinese keyboard is also worth a mention.
- Better ‘Ask To Buy’ – Like many other features of iOS 8.1 and iOS 8.2, the ‘Family Sharing’ feature left much to be desired too. Apple has addressed most of these issues, by tweaking around ‘Ask To Buy’, to make it more secure and reliable. Those using shared resources (i.e., family members) are now able to opt for free app downloads and/or launch any application without any difficulty (read: need to give passwords). The previous versions of iOS 8 had bugs related to this, and they have been ironed out.
- The speed boost – This is yet to be confirmed, but Apple has promised that the iOS 8.3 platform would be considerably faster and more efficient than iOS 8.2. Right from wireless connectivity, Control Center and iMessages, to 3rd-party keyboards and the tabs in the Safari browser on iPhones – everything is likely to work more quickly, once the upgrade is done. Many iPhone/iPad app developers have already tested their applications on the new platform, and confirmed that the latter were indeed working faster.
- Greater support for enterprise users – Apple has included a large number of important enterprise bug fixes in the iOS 8.3 mobile platform. Apart from smoother launch and installation of enterprise applications, the compatibility features of both web proxy as well as VPN have been bolstered. There is no longer any risk of loss of data from Exchange accounts (for instance, due to short connection outages). Exchange meetings that include relatively long notes do not get automatically truncated in iOS 8.3 either.
- More text formatting options in iPhone 6 Plus – Upgraded iPhone 6 Plus phablets allow users to pick from new formatting options. In the landscape mode, text can now be italicized and/or underlined (earlier on, only the ‘Bold’ option was present). You will no longer see “FYI” getting auto-corrected, while QuickReply has also become more reliable in terms of providing contextual text predictions. In a nutshell, typing on a device running on iOS 8.3 has become faster, accurate and more personalized.
Siri’s new ability of making calls via the speakerphone is yet another handy feature of iOS 8.3. Apple has acquired the support of two new mobile carriers as well (yay!) – EE (in the United Kingdom) and Sprint (in United States). The backend support of the latest iOS version extends to iPhone 4S and iPad 2. The update can be downloaded for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch from iTunes. Users can also go for the update ‘over-the-air’ (cloud update). Mobile software experts and app developers feel that iOS 8.3 is indeed be the best iteration of the iOS 8 platform – and it remains to be seen whether it gets the thumbs-up from users.
Will you be upgrading your iDevice to iOS 8.3?
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