iOS 8 Beta 3 – First Looks

After dabbling around with the iOS 8 Beta 3, I came across some interesting things. I had skipped Beta 2, so, it is possible that some of these might have been in Beta 2 as well.

If you restore to iOS 8 Beta 3, you will find the following changes on startup.

  • Hindi welcome messages have been included in the startup screen.
  • Keyboards are selectable at startup along with English (India). You can also select Emoji right here.
  • Find my phone is enabled by default if you use iCloud.
  • Upgrade to iCloud Drive for Yosemite or keep using iCloud documents.
  • Share App Analytics with developers to improve apps.

Once the device was usable, I moved onto the Settings App to start customising my iPhone. Some of this information might help to figure out if you would want to install this beta on a device you would be using for non-development purposes.

  • Date & time automatically sets to Mumbai even if you are in Delhi. Somewhat lame since the location is available.
  • The Settings app still has menu related issues like other stock apps. Settings->General->Usage->Manage Storage and select and delete any app data. Now try deleting another app’s data and the fun begins. The Edit option vanishes. Selecting to go back, remains on the same screen. After 3 taps to get back, you are thrown back to the main settings screen.
  • Fiddle around with the Settings app, try out a few options and the app will freeze. By freeze, I mean really “Frozen”, with no way out excepting a soft reset by pressing the home+power buttons for around 5 seconds.
  • The 3G option under the Cellular menu has been superseded by LTE. 3G is now on by default. This might be a very unwise decision on Apple’s part. I normally advice people to turn off 3G to get better signal strengths and avoid dropping calls and the like. With this option removed, most people can look forward to low signal strengths, dropped calls and hotter running iPhones.
  • The contacts sort order still defaults to “Last,First” even though the location is available and the formats are known. There is still no way of changing the default alert time of 9 am.
  • Some contact photos do not show up even though they exist in the contact and are visible on the iCloud site.
  • Assistive touch icons have been re-arranged to put the home button at the bottom where it was earlier and should have remained. The notification icon also works as expected now. So, the assistive touch seems to be usable again, although, I still do not quite understand why Apple has been adamant on not providing a buttonless, gesture based system. Perhaps they should look at some of the awesome jailbreak tweaks that do all of this and do the job better than Apple in all cases in terms of design and usability.
  • The Weather app looks more like the one we are used to in iOS 7. The Calendar app remains as pathetic as before. Apple maps remain non-existent as before, although, it will give you alternate app options in case you require navigation. I could not get any alternate app options to show up in iOS Beta 3 though. I hope iOS 8 allows setting and using alternate apps as the default and Apple’s own apps like Find My Friends/Phone use real, alternate maps instead of tom tomming about all over the place with no direction.
  • The FaceTime app has been changed a bit to add video and audio contacts into separate lists. The challenge would be to figure out how to add contacts in this beta release. The missed calls as also the full contacts list have been removed. Overall, from a usable interface, Apple seems to want to make it more difficult for people to figure out and use the FaceTime app. You might be better off adding FaceTime contacts in the Phone app.
  • Podcasts and iBooks come pre-installed. Of course, you cannot delete these pre-installed apps anymore.
  • The complexity of adding push email notifications still eludes engineers at Apple and there are no push notifications for Gmail even now. The default action of deleting email in Gmail accounts remains to archive email instead of trashing them. To send deleted Gmail email to trash, you are still required to get into the email settings and do that manually. So much for consistency of design and UX.
  • The AppStore will keep prompting you to set up family sharing. This is yet another unknown in the iOS 8 mix. Family sharing is limited to 6 IDs or devices…? Also, it is meant to happen with developer support, so, one cannot assume that all apps would support this feature. Anyway, there is no way to currently check out this feature as iOS 8 Beta 3 is not really meant for daily use. It does sound interesting, although I have reservations about the 6 user limit. It is too low for a Family count of even 2 generations, and, in some cases, even one generation. Also, the number of devices per user is an unknown as yet. Let’s see what happens in the final release.
  • Existing apps seem to work as expected for the most part, unlike earlier Betas. Have yet to check out normal phone and FaceTime functionality…and look at Yosemite and Xcode previews as well.

That about it for iOS 8 Beta 3 so far…and still no sign of any support for the 5th largest selling handset in Q1…The iPhone 4.

Sounds familiar? Seems like Apple is following Samsung’s lead of selling relatively expensive handsets with no upgrade options.

As a comparison, the iPhone 4 8GB is still far more expensive than a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (i9192)…The common part? Neither have the current firmware updates available.

BTW, there is an interesting sentence on the Apple developer site which has tickled me for sometime now. It has been around for a while, but, since no one seems to have pointed it out so far, I would like to share it here.

For the beta 3 of iOS 8, the description is as follows:

“This is a pre-release version of iOS 8 beta 3 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.”

So…When would we actually see a “release” version of iOS 8 Beta 3?

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