Earlier this month, Apple released a new iOS 8.3 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update brings tons of bug fixes, new features including an updated emoji keyboard, and some bugs and issues of its own. In the past week, we’ve spent some quality time with Apple’s new software and today we want to share our full iPad Air iOS 8.3 review.
In February Apple confirmed its iOS 8.3 update with a beta release. The release confirmed an iOS 8.3 update but it did not confirm a public iOS 8.3 release date. Apple only announces iOS release dates when it talks about an update on stage during media events. Apple’s iOS 8.2 update got that treatment in March at the company’s Spring Forward event.
So when Apple released the iOS 8.3 update unannounced on Wednesday last week, we weren’t surprised in the slightest. This is how Apple’s incremental iOS releases often work and it’s something that new iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users should get used to. It could happen again with the company’s upcoming iOS 8.4 release.
The iOS 8.3 update is a huge update (well over 200MB) and it brings a whole lot to the table. It’s an update that’s caught the attention of many iPhone and iPad users, particularly those dealing with iOS 8 problems.
While iOS 8.3 is a large update, it’s still an incremental release. As many of you know, incremental iOS updates can have a huge impact on the performance of a device. Often, that impact is positive and other times it’s negative. iOS 8.3 appears to deliver a bit of both to iOS 8 users. We’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback but again, we’ve also heard about iOS 8.3 problems as well.
With all of that in mind, I’ve been taking a look at Apple’s iOS 8.3 update on a number of devices including the iPad Air, Apple’s first-gen iPad Air model. Today, I want to offer some feedback to those that might be leery of the update and to those that are already on iOS 8.3.
This is my full iOS 8.3 on iPad Air review and it will attempt to answer the question that we’ve received many times over in the past week: Is iOS 8.3 worth installing on the iPad Air?
iPad Air iOS 8.3 Review
Since Wednesday’s release, I’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.3 on iPad Air. The first-generation iPad Air is my daily driver and it’s a tablet that I use every single day of the week.
Before getting into this detailed review and my detailed impressions of iOS 8.3, I should note that mileage is going to vary from device to device, person to person. That is to say, I probably don’t have the same apps installed and there’s a chance that I use Google Chrome, play more games, and use my home screen more than you do.
With that in mind, consider this review a general guide as you try to decide whether iOS 8.3 is worth installing on your iPad Air. I’m only one man and I encourage you to gather as much feedback as you can before installing.
iOS 8.3 Features
I’ll assume that most of you are caught up to speed on the features that iOS 8.3 brings to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Just in case that you’re not, the slideshow below details the changes that come with Apple’s brand new iOS 8 update.
Apple adds over 300 new iPhone emoji in iOS 8.3. There are new Emoji like the Apple Watch and a new Mac, but most users will focus on the addition of more family choices including more kids, families of two men or two women and now there is an option to change the skin tone of many emoji. Read: How to Use New Emojis With this update you can tap and hold to choose the skin tone of an emoji icon for many emoji options and then tap to pick the color option. Tap and hold on a new color option to make it the default. The iOS 8.3 emoji keyboard for iPhone now offers continuous scrolling so it is easier to scroll through the emoji options and find the ones you want.
New iPhone Emoji in iOS 8.3
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Apple adds over 300 new iPhone emoji in iOS 8.3. There are new Emoji like the Apple Watch and a new Mac, but most users will focus on the addition of more family choices including more kids, families of two men or two women and now there is an option to change the skin tone of many emoji.
Read: How to Use New Emojis
With this update you can tap and hold to choose the skin tone of an emoji icon for many emoji options and then tap to pick the color option. Tap and hold on a new color option to make it the default.
The iOS 8.3 emoji keyboard for iPhone now offers continuous scrolling so it is easier to scroll through the emoji options and find the ones you want.
After using the iPad Air iOS 8.3 update for a week, I’ve grown attached to iOS 8.3’s new features. Emojis are much easier to find thanks to the redesigned emoji keyboard. I do quite a bit of messaging from the iPad Air and Apple’s changes have been an upgrade for me. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved but once you get comfortable, I think you’re going to like it.
Another iOS 8.3 feature that I’m enjoying is a small change to Messages that allows you to easily filter spam messages. I’ve already used this several times and I have a feeling that I’ll be using it again.
iOS 8.3 Performance
Throughout the week I’ve been trying to use all of my apps as much as humanly possible. I have around 75 third-party applications on my iPad Air and so far, all of them are behaving.
I’m not going to list them all here but my core apps include Asana, Slack, Instagram, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Hangouts, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Chrome, and Netflix. All of these applications (and my other apps) are working fine after the transition. I haven’t seen any weird crashes or issues and I hope that this solid performance continues.
App issues can appear at any time so the only thing that you iPad Air users can really do is update the applications with the latest bug fixes. If you’re seeing issues, try reinstalling the app. If that doesn’t work, report the issue to the developer, not Apple.
iOS 8.3 Battery Life
I’ve been the iPad Air, extensively I might add, over the past week and I haven’t noticed any battery life problems. The device still holds an excellent charge when in use. The battery is also still holding a solid charge when in standby. This is absolutely crucial because one, I tend to forget to put my devices on the charger overnight and two, because most of my iPad Air use takes place at night after work.
I’ve said this many times but I’m going to say it again. iOS updates aren’t supposed to ruin your iPad’s battery life. And more often than not, it’s not the update itself causing the problems. It’s usually bad habits, rogue apps, or a combination of both plaguing your device. So before you accuse iOS 8.3 of draining your battery, you’re going to want to dig deep.
Apple rarely issues iOS updates to fix battery life problems so those of you dealing with battery issues on the iPad Air are going to have to be proactive. I’ve outlined a number of strategies to get better battery life on iOS 8.3. Take a look at those if you’re running into trouble right now or if you’re worried about the impact iOS 8.3 could have on your iPad Air.
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
I don’t own an LTE-powered version of the iPad Air so I can’t speak to how LTE connectivity is doing after the iOS 8.3 update. What I can tell you is that both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both holding up on my iPad Air variant.
iOS 8.3 comes with a number of fixes for Wi-Fi and those have only helped to strengthen my Wi-Fi experience. I’m still pulling down excellent speeds and I haven’t noticed any odd drops. I’ve tested the update on a number of different routers.
I’ve also been able to pair the iPad Air with several Bluetooth devices including speakers, headsets and a car. I haven’t experienced any issues with any of these though there is always a chance that a problem will pop up in the future.
If you’re experiencing connectivity issues, you’ll want to consult our list of fixes for common iOS 8.3 problems on iPad. These fixes are a great starting point though I do suggest hunting around for other fixes. You can never be too prepared for an iOS update.
Bugs & Issues
Apple’s iOS 8.3 update comes with an extensive list of bug fixes so it hasn’t been surprising to see a smooth, stable experience on the iPad Air first-generation. I’ve been digging for problems and so far, I’ve come up empty.
Now that’s not to say that there aren’t any iOS 8.3 problems out there. iPad users are complaining about a number of different issues on the iPad. Most of the problems though are isolated and limited to a few devices.
iOS 8.3’s stability doesn’t come as a surprise. The update represents Apple’s eighth incremental iOS 8 update since the release of iOS 8.0 in September. The iOS 8.3 update also went through a lengthy beta process. And, like I said, it also comes with an extensive list of bug fixes for iOS 8 problems.
If you are experiencing iOS 8.3 problems or you’re concerned about the potential for iOS 8.3 problems, take a look at our list of fixes. You’re always assuming risk when you install a new iOS update, especially when the update is on an old device like the iPad Air.
No complaints here. The iPad Air continues to age well and I still haven’t seen a drop in overall speed. iOS 8.3 is fast and fluid and I’ve yet to encounter any sluggishness or lag when maneuvering through the operating system. Folders and apps open as quick as ever and even Apple’s multitasking function, which has given me problems on older iPhones, is working beautifully after iOS 8.3.
Is the iPad Air iOS 8.3 Update Worth It?
At this point, I think it’s going to be worth it for most of you. The new emoji keyboard and spam filter are both useful. iOS 8.3 also comes with a ton of bug fixes for iOS 8 problems so if you’re struggling on iOS 8.2 or below, it’s most certainly going to be worth a move. My iOS 8.3 experience has been virtually flawless and I’m delighted that I made the move when I did.
There’s always some risk involved moving to another version of iOS. If you’re having a good experience without iOS 8.3, by all means take your time. There’s no rush. Apple’s next major update, iOS 8.4, is set to arrive this summer which means that you have plenty of time to dig into some more feedback from iPad Air iOS 8.3 users.