When we iPhone users download the latest iOS software update, the first thing many of us do is scour geek websites for lists of hidden, cool features. And sure enough, there are dozens of such lists already, because iOS8 is packed with helpful goodies. I've read nearly all of these lists, and below I've distilled what I think are the most useful hidden features — the stuff that gets lost behind the glamor of, say, enhancements to the camera app, widgets, intuitive keyboards, Continuity, and third-party app-sharing.
1. Automatic notifications for important emails. I've been using a different mail app for awhile because Apple's indigenous interface is frustratingly free of ways to organize what comes in. Now, it's gotten a bit better. One enhancement is the ability to designate a chain of emails as important with a tap of the finger in the subject line, which will automatically send replies to your email to the new notification window (where, also new, you can reply directly to it.) This will save time and help clear clutter.
2. Find your stolen iPhone. In the settings for "Find My iPhone," you can now toggle on a tab that automatically sends you an email with the last known coordinates of your iPhone before it runs out of battery, which means you can pinpoint more closely the location where it was lost or stolen.
3. Free up space by optimizing photos. Shutterbugs who like to have easy access to any photo they've ever taken now have a way to free up a significant amount of space. You can ask your phone to optimize the size of photos kept on the iPhone while also storing the original (much larger) version in the cloud. You can find this toggle in the camera settings.
4. Optimize memory. If an app has been running in the background and hasn't been used for a while, the phone will notify you and you'll have the option to disable the app. This is helpful for those of us who don't want to have to always close apps that we frequently use but which also consume a lot of the phone's memory and battery life, like Facebook Messenger. Twin this with the not-so-hidden battery usage feature and your phone could last longer and run better.
5. Avoid hidden health scares. The Health setting allows you to create the equivalent of a "Do Not Give This Person Peanuts" bracelet. A card accessible from the lock screen can give medical and police personnel (or people who find your phone) as much, or as little, information about you, your emergency medical needs, and your contact info as you wish.
6. Instant backup connectivity. If you're on your Mac and you lose WiFi, but your phone still gets a 3G or LTE connection, you can much more easily use your phone as an instant hotspot — as in, an instant one, without all the tsuris you go through to set it up as a personal WiFi hotspot.