Courtesy of iOS 8 the iPad Safari web browser welcomes third-party developers too. It now supports extension access via its contextual menu. They will be able to auto-fill forms, use the Touch ID security features and translate webpages. It's up to the developers to come up with creative uses and hopefully we'll get a lot of those soon.
Other than the Safari extensions, Apple has improved its Private Browsing. It's more intuitive now and won't make you convert all of your currently opened tabs into Private ones.
As we mentioned in the user interface chapter, the smart suggestions from Wikipedia and the App Store/iTunes Store work within the Safari browser, too.
Safari supports the iCloud keychain where you can store all of your passwords and credit card info (sans the security code). There is also a password generator available, in case you are out of ideas. What's good about this setup is that all your save content from the computer version of Safari is now available straight on your phone as well.
In much the same way, iCloud syncs your opened tabs, along with offline reading. Safari also allows you access to your multimedia content without exiting the browser.
Much like before, if a page is compatible with the integrated Reader (most of the article pages out there are) you get a Reader button right into the address bar as soon as the page loads. The Reader strips the webpage of ads and makes the layout and font size more suited to a smaller phone screen.
The iTunes store is where you get music, videos, TV shows, movies, podcasts and ringtones. The tabbed interface is similar to that of the AppStore, divided into Music, Movies, Search, Tones and More.
The App store on the iPad Air 2 has a better and smarter search with a new interface, App Bundles offered by devs, embedded videos in the app descriptions a la Google Play Store, and devs will be able to invite users to closed beta testing of future versions of their apps.
We've yet to see a beta section in the App Store making an appearance and how the beta app seeding will work. The promised App Bundles are already available though and many developers are now offering app bundles on discounted prices.
Another upgrade that was well overdue is iCloud Drive. Apple has taken steps to evolve your iCloud Storage to a competitive cloud service to match Dropbox or OneDrive. Besides backing up your entire camera roll, it is instantly synced in the cloud and accessible from anywhere - your other iOS devices, Macs and PCs.
You can store any file on the iCloud Drive, not just pictures and videos, as any other services would allow you to. The Handoff feature relies heavily on the iCloud Drive - this is a document you've opened on your iPhone would be handed over to your iPad or Mac. If you don't use iCloud Drive this file continuity wouldn't be possible.
Naturally you can choose what files and app data gets synced in your iCloud Drive. There is an option to choose cellular data where a Wi-Fi connection isn't available.
Unfortunately, Apple is still only giving 5GB of cloud storage for free and some of it is already used by your iCloud backups. If you want more, you'll have to pay extra.
AirDrop is naturally present on the iPad Air 2. It's a system-wide file sharing service between supported iDevices (including Macs running OS X Maverics and above), which needs to have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on to work.
AirDrop is available in every share menu throughout the iOS. You can send pictures, videos, App Store and iTunes links, Notes, Maps links, all kind of files from file managing apps (i.e. Filer, Flash Drive, Air Disk, etc.), Office docs, and more.
If there are people with AirDrop service around you, they will automatically appear in the dedicated AirDrop field. You just mark your files, select people and hit the send key.
Another major addition in the new iOS 8 is the Family Share setup and features. It allows up to six users to make iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases with a single credit card. Family photos, calendar entries and locations can also be shared.
The credit card owner and group admin may opt to authorize each purchase requested by other members in the group - i.e. your kids. Thus you have full control over the purchased content - same goes for sharing requests.
If Family Sharing enabled on a range of devices, you will be able to find each one of them on a map - handy if you want to know where your kids (or spouse) are at any time.
The clock and calendar apps are here. Clock can show you the time around the world, setup alarms, a timer and a stopwatch.
Calendar hasn't received any new functionality but remains great regardless. It can sync multiple calendar accounts at once, divide events by type (each type like Birthdays, Work, Family, etc. can be color-coded) and has the standard viewing modes - Day, Week, Month and Year. You also get an Agenda view under the search field which lists all the events in a timeline.
Notes now give you rich text formatting while Reminders has remained the same. You can schedule reminders for a time and even place.
The iBooks is now part of the iOS package and has lost its skeuomorphic design. Its interface mimics that of the App Store, but the first tab is still your virtual bookshelf.
With every newly activated iPad Air 2 you also get the complete iWorks suite including Pages (viewing, editing docs), Numbers (viewing, editing excel files), and Keynote (viewing, editing presentations).
Pages allows you to import, create or edit documents (DOC and DOCX are supported). It isn't as powerful as some of its Android counterparts, but it covers all the basics and will do an excellent job for most users.
Keynote opens and edits (PowerPoint) presentations. It has all the tools you'll need to create a decent presentation from scratch, including tons of beautifully designed themes. You get comprehensive editing options including adding multimedia, tablets, charts and customizable transitions.
Numbers supports Excel files and also covers all major features you'll probably need - charts, formulas, tablet formatting, the lot. There are many themes that will help you quickly create complicated spreadsheets even if you don't know how to do a scatter chart (looking at how the templates work is a good way to learn).
You can easily import files via iTunes and use iCloud for backup and sync.
iTunes U is a very powerful app few people use on a daily basis. It has a priceless catalogue of courses and lectures from many Universities in the world on just about any science you'd want to get into and is worth checking out.
Apple replaced Google with TomTom as map provider for the iOS native Maps application. It also offers voice-guided navigation courtesy of Siri. The navigation will work even on the lockscreen or in the background. Real-time traffic reports are available and Apple is also crowdsourcing the live traffic info anonymously from iOS users on the road. Turn-by-turn walking directions are available as well.
The 3D Flyover mode is a great bonus for your viewing pleasure. When you enable the 3D view (outside navigation) you will be able to explore cityscapes from birds-eye view. The currently available selection is quite limited, but more and more areas are joining Flyover in time. You can zoom, tilt and rotate using two-finger gestures to explore 3D landmarks rendered in real time.
The Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 doesn't have a GPS so Maps is best reserved for indoor use and less so for navigating the great outdoors.
Photo Booth uses the new front-facing camera to create a series of effects. You can choose among them and the effect changes when you move your face in front of the camera.