iOS 8 beta 1 has been out for a little under two weeks now, and I’ve been playing with it since it was launched at WWDC 2014. As a Windows Phone user, I love to check out iOS, especially with every new update. I was originally an iPhone user years ago, and coming back to the platform to check how it’s developing is always fun. iOS 8 is yet another huge leap forward for Apple, but how does it fair against a Windows Phone user?
We usually check out iOS every time a new version is released, and iOS 8 is no different. We’ve got a hands on video, and this time I’m going to share some detailed impressions about iOS 8 from a Windows Phone perspective. Sound intriguing? Let’s get started then.
Dead or Alive?
iOS 8, from the get go, is the same as it was in 2007. A grid of icons. Static icons. Icons that do not move, and act as basic gateways into your apps. Sure, the home screen has evolved with icon updates, dock changes and the introduction of a wallpaper, but that’s pretty much it. The iOS 8 home screen is still boring, and still very limited.
Compared to Windows Phone, in which the Start Screen is constantly being updated and changing. Of course, both types of home screen have their pros and cons. For example, some may dislike live tiles as it can make finding apps difficult compared to an icon which is always the same and identifiable. We get it, everybody is different. But my personal impression of this is that iOS 8 is boring.
Until Apple allow developers to dive deep into the iOS home screen, iOS isn’t going to evolve as much as we want it to.
iOS 8 is an update for developers. It holds great potential if developers are willing, and they’re probably very willing to get developing for iOS 8 considering how popular iOS is these days.
Right now, with beta 1, iOS 8 is unable to show it’s full potential as apps are not yet utilising the new developer API’s.
Same goes with Windows Phone 8.1, really. Whilst 8.1 introduced a whole load of needed features, none of them were really ‘new’ in the world of mobile operating systems. Windows Phone is definitely known for playing catch up, and Windows Phone 8.1 was just another update in the catch up game.
Don’t get me wrong, Windows Phone 8.1 was a tremendous update for Windows Phone users, but in contrast with other platforms, everything we were given in the update was old news. Microsoft opened up the platform a little more for developers to hook into core functions of the operating system, much like Apple have done with iOS 8.
iOS 8 holds the most potential ever for an iOS 8 developer. Apple are now allowing access to core operating system functions, apps can talk to each other and even utilise iCloud Drive.
Windows Phone, whilst also allowing developers to dive a little deeper into the OS, is yet to be this advanced when it comes to operating system access.
iOS 8 ties Mac OS X and it’s mobile counterpart closer together even more than before, much like Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update does, but iOS 8 definitely triumphs when it comes to Continuity.
Continuity is a new feature in iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 which allows users to move between one platform and the next with ease. Desktop apps will move to iOS, and iOS apps will move back to the desktop. Writing an email on the iPhone? You can pick up directly where you left off on the Mac. It’s really swell.
Microsoft are also doing things with unification, but on a completely different level. Windows Phone and Windows look similar, and app development is also similar, but at this stage it is impossible to cross use apps on both platforms. Microsoft’s vision of One Windows should help combat this, but until then we’re left without such a feature.
iOS 8 is still very much locked down. Sure, developers can now add widgets to the Notification Center, and users can add custom keyboards to the operating system, but it's still really locked down. Apple do not allow access to the local file system, at all, which is unfortunate.
Windows Phone 8.1 does allow access to the file system, allowing users to move files and folders easily and conveniently directly from their phone. This is something iOS 8 needs, and it's something it doesn't have. Hopefully Apple will come to their senses in the future and add it in with the next major version of iOS.
iOS 8 is yet another leap forward for Apple. It’s finally catching up with the likes of Android, and that’s a good thing. The introduction of widgets is a nice touch, and the new API’s for developers is a definite plus. But, from a Windows Phone users perspective, is it enough to switch back? No. iOS 8 is still iOS. There’s nothing that’s compelling enough to want me to switch.
Windows Phone is appealing to a different audience from those on iOS and Android. Windows Phone is for Microsoft users. It hooks right up to your PC and Microsoft services. The only real feature I’d be tempted to switch for is for the Continuity stuff on Mac, but as I don’t have a Mac that feature is pretty useless to me.
I’d rather wait for Microsoft to play catch up with Apple and introduce this stuff in Windows 9. That way I can stick with my favourite ecosystem.
Check out our hands on video of iOS 8 beta 1 on an iPhone 4s below.