• Atrticle: iOS8 on the iPad 2: the iPad that just won't die.

    iOS 8 on the iPad 2
    The iPad that just won’t die:



    Back in 2011, Steve Jobs took to the stage to announce the iPad 2. Few would have imagined that over 3 and a half years later, it would still be relevant. Almost no one would have guessed it would have had a shelf life of 3 years.

    Arguably, the iPad 2 was the first tablet to really define the market expectations. When it was introduced, it didn’t really have one ground breaking feature specifically. Sure it was thinner, lighter, faster and had two Cameras. It was the combination of these features that combined to make a great iPad experience particularly compared to the iPad 1.

    As time has gone past, the 2 has received many an update. iOS 5, iOS 6. Some people felt that support would stop at iOS 6, and were surprised to see iOS 7 for the 2. Some were even more surprised a year later when the venerable tablet received iOS 8. However, it is not surprising given that the latest figures show that the iPad 2 sits at 29 percent of the iPad market share. Yep thats right. 29 percent, which is more than any other iPad. Usage for the iPad Mini 1 which shares similar specs to the iPad 2 (A5, 512 MB Ram) is at 20 percent, and the iPad 3 which also shares similar specs but has 1 GB ram is at 13 percent.

    Given such a large number of users on the iPad 2 and its low end specs, there comes the question should I update?

    That question doesn’t have a direct answer. Hopefully this article will help you make up your mind.

    New features:

    iOS 8 brings quite a number of features even to the iPad 2 . First we’ll start with what it does get:

    iMessage: All the new message features have come to the iPad 2. You can now send small voice clips, photos and video clips, easily and quickly. There is also now more control over sharing of locations, group iMessaging and more.

    Quick type: Above the keyboard, predictive text now shows. It is contextually aware, suggesting relevant words to use while typing.

    Third Party Keyboards: Allows for you to choose your own keyboard on the App store, to suite varied typing preferences.

    Camera and Photos: A new time lapse feature, doesn’t look great on the iPad 2 camera, but not a bad feature. There is now a self timer and more control over brightness while taking a photo. Photos itself now allows far more detailed editing of photos, in addition to far better photo organisation and searching.

    Family sharing: Allows for managing iTunes/App purchases between family members, family calendars and photo stream as well as find my friends. (Coming soon according to Apple)

    iCloud Drive: Also coming soon, iCloud drive allows for far more in depth management of documents in iCloud than before. Allows for cross App documents, kind of like a more integrated dropbox.

    Safari: A new Tab ‘birds eye view’ mode like in Yosemite, new side bar like in the desktop version and several other enhancements.

    SMS relay (Coming soon) and Phone relay: If you have an iPhone logged into the same iCloud account and on the same wifi network, your iPad can now answer and make calls, using the iPhone. Also coming soon is the ability to do the same with SMS messages, where you will be able to send and receive SMS messages on the iPad through a iPhone on the same wifi network.

    Extensions: This one relies on developers creating widgets for their apps, which can be used in the notifications centre as well. There is also better sharing abilities between apps.

    Other features:


    Functional notifications: This is where you can reply to messages by dragging down on a notification, without leaving your current app. Another example is that mail allows for you to delete and mark messages read using the same system. App developers will also adopt this to their apps.

    Recent contacts in multitasking mode: Your most recent and favourite contacts can now be accessed from the multitasking mode.

    General redesigns: New look control centre, simplified notifications centre, small safari redesigns and more.

    Settings - Battery usage by app now available, settings generally given a makeover.

    The iPad 2 misses out on a new features, such as Handoff and Health (iPhone only) Other hardware dependent improvements such as Touch ID, Siri and graphics improvements are also left off the list. However for a device as old as the iPad 2, the list of new features is a surprisingly long

    Performance - My impressions

    The big question.. will it ruin my iPad?

    Today I have experienced iOS 8 in two ways. The first being an Over the air update(OTA). My iPad has never started fresh. It came with iOS 5, then I went to 6 and 7, always either doing an OTA update or restoring from backup. When I installed iOS 8 as an OTA update, performance was slow and laggy. Animations were jittery. Safari was the worst offender of all the apps. However given my limited test time, I would say this was in part to incompatible apps, indexing and other post install processes that go on in the background and the fact that iOS 8 is still quite buggy.

    My second experience today with iOS 8 was wiping the iPad and starting with a clean install. This made a huge difference. While not quite up to iOS 7 speeds, my iPad regained most of its snappiness, though safari was still a little laggy. Animations were still occasionally jittery and slight lags in scrolling, opening apps and multitasking were present, but not to the extent of in the OTA update.

    I have not yet spent enough time on iOS 8 to judge the battery life.

    Performance - iOS 7 vs iOS 8
    In an attempt to demonstrate the speed differences between the two devices I clean installed iOS 7 and iOS 8 and did minimal setups, in an attempt to mirror the setup between the two to the greatest extent possible.

    I took a few photos so there was content in the Photos App, I also signed into iMessage, FaceTime and Mail. Wifi was turned on, bluetooth off and 3G off. All other settings were left as stock iOS 7 and then 8 settings.

    My testing included opening each App three times and recording the loading time, then taking the average. Between each App open, I force quit the app in the multitasking menu.


    The results are as follows:

    Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 11.38.48 am by [url=https://www.flickr.com/people/126900656@N02/]

    With a clean install of iOS 8, things were generally slower, but usually not massively slower. There were a few odd examples where iOS 8 was faster, which was strange. Also iOS 8 tests varied between each go in strange ways.

    This table may not be 100 percent accurate but it may give you an example of how the iPad 2 handles iOS 8 compared to iOS7. However remember that a OTA update is likely to kill performance far more than a clean install does.


    Should I upgrade?

    This depends on you. If you’re not desperately in need of the new features, stick with iOS 7 for the time being. iCloud Photos, SMS relay and iCloud drive are not coming till later, in case of the latter two not till next month, so it may be worth waiting for that reason also, not all major features are out yet. Due to the large numbers of iPad users still on A5 iPad 2s and Mini 1s, I expect Apple to release updates to address bugs and performance issues on these older devices, so waiting for bug fixes is potentially a good idea.

    Having said this, there are a large number of useful features. Receiving calls on the iPad is great, and very useful. I’ve also found functional notifications extremely useful, and its almost worth the upgrade for these features alone. If you’re desperate to upgrade which is understandable given the new features, proceed with caution. Update but expect some loss of performance. iOS 8 is not exactly a speed demon on iPad 2s, but its also not the slowest thing ever either.

    Thanks for reading through my first ever article, and I really hope it helped. Keep an eye out for my next article on improving iOS performance on older devices, and also hopefully an iOS 7 vs iOS 8 video for the iPad 2.

    Let us know how you go and remember, your experience may vary and I am not responsible for problems or issues you may encounter from updating!
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