Technology Brief: iOS 8

On September 17, 2014 Apple released iOS 8, a significantly updated and refined version of its mobile operating system. iOS 8 is compatible with the following: iPhone 4s and later, iPad 2 and later, and iPod touch (5th-generation) and later, though it may not be a good choice for the iPhone 4s and iPad 2. It is also shipping preloaded with the recently released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

ISC recommendation

Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes that it is reasonable for most iOS users with an eligible device to upgrade to iOS 8. ISC and others across campus have tested iOS 8, however, and have not discovered any compatibility issues with various University systems and many current University apps, including a suite of apps and services listed here.

Users of older devices such as the iPhone 4s and the iPad 2 should expect significantly degraded performance if they upgrade to iOS 8. The 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4s is less than optimal for the iOS 8 interface. Also, iOS 8 on the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 does not include features such as AirDrop, peer-to-peer AirPlay, and Handoff for apps. There is a possibility that Apple will tune performance for the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 in later minor updates of iOS 8, though it should be noted that the iPhone 4s was released 35 months ago and the iPad 2 was released 42 months ago.

Finally, users of managed iOS devices should consult their LSP before upgrading to iOS 8.


While improving on many of the features and design principles introduced in iOS 7, iOS 8 introduces a number of new features designed to streamline interoperability with OS X devices. In addition to refinements made to many of the built-in apps, Apple has also introduced over 4,000 new APIs for developers to enhance their apps, as well as a developer feature named Extensibility, enabling interfacing with other apps in addition to home automation products and cloud services.

Notable new iOS 8 features include:

  • Improvements to Notification Center, with actionable notifications from within apps and the lock screen
  • An improved keyboard with predictive contextual word suggestions and the ability to use third-party keyboards such as Fleksy, SwiftKey, and Swype
  • Family Sharing; allowing a shared photo stream, calendar, reminders, and media for up to six family members sharing the same credit card
  • Health, a new app that tracks your health and activity data, which then can be supplemented by or shared with third party apps. Note that Apple promises a robust and granular system for granting permissions to this data.
  • Improvements to Spotlight; new built-in web search and increased awareness of context and location
  • An inter-device sharing system called Handoff allows for continuity between devices when using apps (note that Handoff requires the yet to be released OS X version 10.10 Yosemite to work with desktops and notebooks)
  • Advanced interfacing with other Apple products, such as instant hotspot creation and placing and answering voice calls from iPads and OS X devices
  • Improvements to Photos; smart adjustments, additional photo filters, and time-lapse videos
  • Additional controls to Messages, including by-conversation "do not disturb", "tap to talk", and temporary location sharing
  • iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo library, allowing for sharing and sync across platforms
  • Improvements to Safari; new sidebar and tab view
  • Additional Enterprise features, such as expanded data protection, device enrollment programs, S/MIME, auto reply, free/busy times, and third-party document providers (including Box and OneDrive)

More information on iOS 8's features can be found at Apple's iOS 8 page.


Upgrade notes and best practices:

  • ISC recommends updating all apps immediately prior to upgrading to iOS 8. In an ISC survey of 195 actively maintained applications, over 50% have been updated between the time that Apple declared iOS 8 frozen on September 9th and the end of September. The upgrade process is also a good time to remove obsolete or unused apps.
  • The upgrade to iOS 8 should not erase any information on the device, but doing a backup with iTunes before applying a major iOS upgrade is always advisable.
  • Upgrading to iOS 8 through the desktop requires iTunes 11.4.
  • Since the iOS 8 download can be up to 1.6 GB, Apple requires using WiFi or iTunes to download iOS 8.
  • The upgrade requires between 3.0 GB and 5.0 GB of free space on the device.
  • ISC strongly suggests that the device be connected to a power source before beginning the upgrade and have at least 50% battery.
  • The upgrade process takes approximately 45 minutes.

Please note that an active network connection is needed after installation for upgraded devices to reactivate. In previous releases of major iOS updates, cellular vendors' activation servers have been overwhelmed by devices checking in after the software has installed.

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Date Posted: June 3, 2014 Tags: iOS, New and Noteworthy

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