The magic's in the software

MORE POWERFUL AND FLEXIBLE: Apple's iOS 8 on iPhone 6 handsets. The new operating system offers some features that catch up to competitors while others are totally new.


    Sep 19, 2014

    The magic's in the software

    APPLE'S new operating system, iOS 8, combines some of the advanced features of Android with Apple's ease of use and reliability.

    Because of the software, it's hard to see many iPhone fans straying from Apple, even if they don't buy new iPhones immediately.

    The iOS 8 software doesn't look greatly different, but many refinements make it more powerful and flexible. Some of the features catch up to competitors and some are totally new.

    The upgrade adds iCloud Drive, for example, which lets you share more easily documents across devices, as you can with Dropbox or Google Drive.

    A Family Sharing feature will let you share your purchased books, movies, music and some apps with up to six family members, so they don't have to log in to your account to watch a movie or use an app you have purchased.

    After OS X Yosemite, the new operating system for Macs, is released next month, Apple's Continuity feature will let you view incoming text messages across all devices, hand off documents between a phone and computer, and send a text or make a call from your Mac.

    Smaller improvements - expiring messages and voice memos, Spotlight searches that include web results, and recently used contacts that show up when you double-press the home button to switch between or close apps - add up to a refined mobile OS.

    Some of the features are not perfect, and many of the sexier features are still down the road. Apple's HealthKit, the health- and fitness-monitoring system, was pulled from iOS 8 due to a bug. The tools will be available later this month.

    The iOS 8 operating system comes on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and can be installed this week on the iPhone 5s, 5 and 4s.