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iOS 8.2 Provides Improvements and Opportunities

With the latest iOS 8.2 update available, it is important for developers and users to be aware of trends, developments and resources related to this upgrade. A couple of improvements in the 8.2 update are evident in the new Apple Watch App and the Health App. However, complaints about continued WiFi issues in this update are a concern.

Apple Watch App

One of the biggest developments with this update is the inclusion of the Apple Watch app on all iPhones 5 and above of users who choose to upgrade. Some have complained that app is simply an advertisement for Apple’s new product, especially since it has no use for anyone without an Apple Watch. According to Karissa Bell, “users have already taken to Twitter to voice their complaints about the unwanted app.” Further, concern over the size of this app has given users pause before they consider this update because it can’t be deleted. It is important to note, as Bart Jacobs points out, “A third-party Apple Watch application can only do its work if the user’s Apple Watch is paired with the their iPhone.”

If a user does get an Apple Watch, then the independent developers who are getting their third-party Apple Watch apps ready should be of interest. For example, Todoist is an to-do list app which complements the Apple Watch view. You can interact on the watch with any notifications you receive on your iphone. Another independent app, MoneyWiz allows you to manage your financial accounts in a customizable format on the watch.

Developers who are interested in creating independent apps for the Apple Watch can use WatchKit. An extension runs in the iPhone’s background which then extends your app to the Apple Watch. With the WatchKit, Apple has provided a comprehensive set of tools, templates and design guides to aid in development. An upcoming conference in Austin, called CocoaConf features speakers who examine innovative techniques to build apps using WatchKit. Also, a comprehensive WatchKit FAQ examines the ins and outs of creating apps for the Apple Watch.

Health App

Another improvement in the 8.2 iOS update is with the Health app. According to Thorin Klosowski, “After a shaky launch, apps can now integrate with Apple’s own Health app.” Not only does it improve stability with large amounts of data, the update now allows you to add your information from third-party apps. Healthkit is a new tool that gives developers opportunities to share data between their independent apps and the Health app. Gordon Kelly notes, “Along with UI tweaks, users now get a choice of metric and imperial measurements for body temperature, weight, height, distance and blood glucose.”

One of the most popular third-party health apps is MyFitnessPal. It tracks calories, meals and fitness routines. The data is shared on their website and app, and now is accessible via the Health app. Another independent app, CARROT Fit encourages you to stay fit by keeping track of your weight and steps. Not only is the app’s data shared, it monitors what other independent apps send to the Health app.

At this time, not a lot of apps take advantage of this possible integration with the Health app, so there are many opportunities for developers to create and extend their apps. In this HealthKit Tutorial with Swift, developers can explore this integration. This HealthKit Framework Reference gives more information about the API.

WiFi Connection Issues

Even though a number of apps are more stable with the 8.2 update, a major ongoing concern is the dropping of Wifi connections that has increased with the upgrade to iOS 8. 8.1 was supposed to resolve this issue, however users with a jailbreaked phone or iPad cannot take advantage of this upgrade. A new jailbreak tweak is called WiFried, available on Cydia. In thisforum, the jailbreak solution is discussed. The biggest issue with iOS 8 is that Apple’s Wireless Direct Link (AWDL) peer-to-peer connection reduces WiFi speeds, as further explained in thisblog post. Mario Ciabarra explains, “WiFried will allow you to enable/disable your D2DWiFi/AWDL and can be conveniently turned off/on under the AirDrop settings in Control Center.”

The AWDL issue is discussed at many WiFi Meetups.

However, many users have noticed that WiFi performance is still not optimal with the 8.1 and 8.2 updates. With the beta version of iOS 8.3 available to developers, there is hope that this bug will be resolved. Others claim that this issue is still present even in this beta version. More information about upcoming beta versions will be available at the 2015 WWDC Apple Developer Conference.

All iOS upgrades have advantages and bugs for users and developers. However, the continued feedback from them continue to motivate Apple to improve their products. For example, Apple is developing the 8.4 update. “Recent rumors have suggested that Apple’s existing Beats music service will be rebranded” with this update. With each new update, Apple provides opportunities for developers to create apps that are increasingly innovative and useful.

However, the question continues to be, if and/or when a user make the upgrade considering the inevitable bugs that surface. Or are app developers in a unique position to provide value utilizing these updates and make an upgrade more attractive?

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