Like most Apple product users, I have a mixed relationship with my devices.  They are useful and elegant sometimes, but other times, I have to wonder what the engineers were thinking when they sent a particular feature out to the market.  Simplicity is part of what makes the i-devices so popular, but that simplicity also makes it very hard to customize the devices.  In some cases, there are a few options that can indirectly fix annoying traits in the software.

Between personal use and business use, I have several devices, and these are settings that I have employed to make all of them easier to use, especially since upgrading to iOS 8.  You may find that you like different settings, but thankfully, you are free to pick and choose as you wish, and configure your own device to suit you best.  Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Reduce the Animation When Using the Device

I'm more of a "function over form" user, so I definitely prefer not to apply any processing resources or accept any lag for fluff.  I first noticed the animated transitions between various functions with iOS 7, and maybe they were there before then- but I have never liked them.  Fortunately, you can turn off the Settings>General>Accessibility menu.  Scroll down to "Reduce Motion" and select "on."  This slightly counter-intuitive setting will speed up the phone as you go from one screen to the next, and will likely help reduce user fatigue.

2. Turn off the Emoticons Keyboard

I don't smile often.  When I do, I don't do it via emoticons or emoji.  Therefore, I never need the keyboard shortcut that is turned on by default in iOS8.  To turn off the smiley keyboard, go to Settings>General>Keyboards and delete the Emoji keyboard.  Why Apple chose to make these smileys an option and not the second category of punctuation marks (like # + and =) is a question that I may never understand.  Wait, did I just smile in that last sentence?

3. Turn off Auto Correct

While you are in that keyboard menu, why not turn off auto correct?  Your mileage may vary, but I've not found it to be a net gain in productivity, especially when considering the risk of having the phone turn a message that I have composed into something incorrect, insulting, or vulgar.  This kind of thing could happy to anyone who uses auto-correct.

4. Turn off Most Notifications

Does an app give you all sorts of intrusive messages that pop up at the top of the screen?  Go to Settings>Notifications and select the offending app.  Scroll down to the section that shows the outline of your device in blue, and select "none" instead of "banners" (or worse, "alerts").

5. Turn off AMBER Alerts

Speaking of which, have you had your phone start beeping like crazy for some unexplained reason, especially while you were trying to do something very quiet like sleep, or sneak into the kitchen for a snack?  I had that happen, once.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Settings>Notifications menu and turn off AMBER Alerts.  While you are there, turn off "Emergency Alerts" too, unless you want your phone to get excited when there is something that someone thinks is an emergency going on.  I work nights, and have other ways to find out about emergencies and missing kids than to have my phone start beeping very loudly.

6. Turn off Location Services for Most Apps

There are some apps that need to know where I am, such as map apps and star finding apps.  Most others do not need to know where I am, but that doesnt' stop them from trying.  I go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services to deny access for apps that don't need to know my location.  Take a moment to scroll through that list and be prepared for a few surprises.  Also, select "system services" at the end of that menu, and turn off things like location-based ads if you wish.  

7. Use Parental Restrictions to Your Advantage

Even if you don't have kids, Restrictions, which seem to be intended to limit access for kids, are a great way to limit access for everyone else too.  For example, I turn off "In App Purchases" (Settings>General>Restrictions), and disallow changes to location services.  There are a few other handy settings in this section too.  Be sure to pick a 4-digit code that you can remember!

8. Add Words to the Spell Check Dictionary

Do you have a word that you frequently use on your device that is not in the Apple spell-check dictionary?  When this happens, the software will always underline your word with a squiggly red line, which is a little bit like having your phone "cry wolf."  What if you actually do misspell it sometime?  Wouldn't it be nice to only have the warning in that case?  In Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcuts, you can use another feature in a way that Apple didn't intend.  Click on the plus sign in the upper right, and type your problem word in the "Phrase" box.  Then type a combination of characters that you are unlikely to type otherwise into the "Shortcut" box.

There you have it, a few little hacks to make your iPhone or iPad more useful, in spite of Apple's best efforts to make your device operate the way they wanted it to!