Here’s what you can expect from the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system.
BY JUSTIN RUBIOToday Apple announced iOS 8 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Unveiled during this year’s WWDC, the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system isn’t a complete re-working like iOS 7, but there are more than a few additions and refinements this time around nonetheless.
With iOS 8, Apple has updated its notification center, now allowing users to reply directly from a notification, even from the lockscreen. Third-party apps can now offer widgets for the notification center as well. Additionally, double tapping not only gets you to the multi-tasking function, but also shows the people you contact the most for more quick-access functionality.
Mail with iOS 8 has been enhanced as well, with new actions added for flagging and marking to read later. You can also swipe an email draft down on the iPad so that you can search through other messages. With the new Spotlight, iOS 8 pulls from a wider variety of sources, letting you search for apps, text messages, songs, and news.
Apple has also updated its keyboard with QuickType, which shows predictive answers to questions that someone may ask you via text. It can also predict the next word that you’re going to type, much like we’ve seen on other keyboards.
When text messaging, iPhone owners will be happy to know that they will be able to name group message threads, add or remove people in the conversation, or easily share their location for a set amount of time. The ability to send audio messages has also been included using the Tap to Talk function.
iOS 8 will also work with Apple’s new Continuity features that it introduced alongside OS X Yosemite. Starting an email on your phone and finishing it on a MacBook is now an easy task, and iMessage has been updated to handle non-iMessage texts through your computer. Phone calls can now be answered through OS X as well. iCloud Drive is also present with iOS 8, adding built-in access to files across your various Apple devices.
Apple also introduced its entrance into the health and fitness space with HealthKit. The software suite tracks a variety of activity and health-related information, and works with third-party apps like Nike+. Using Healthkit, data can be shared directly with healthcare providers that are part of the Mayo Clinic network.
With iOS 8, there is now an easy way to share photos, calendars, and reminders with friends and family with Family Sharing. Using GPS, parents can even locate their kids devices. Purchases can be also shared with through Family Sharing—don’t worry, parents, kids have to get your permission before purchasing apps.
Photo management and editing has a few new tricks too. Touching up pictures can now be done through a built-in app that lets use adjust a number of aspects of the photos, or boost the image’s overall composition. Edits also sync over iCloud so that the changes are seen across devices.
Siri received a couple small updates, including Shazam song recognition integration, the ability to purchase songs from within the software, and streaming voice recognition. Other small updates include the ability install system-wide third-party keyboards and enhanced communication between apps. In a demo, a photo from one app was updated uses a filter from another, without leaving the initial app. Third-party apps will now be able to utilize TouchID for authentication—fingerprint data will not be shared with the third-party, in case you were concerned. As far as the app store is concerned, developers will have the option to bundle apps for a single, discounted price, and can even let users test out their apps with a new feature called TestFlight.
Apple also announced Metal, new graphics tech that will be utilized by iPhones and iPads. EA, Epic Games, Crytek, and Unity are all on board, with Epic founder Tim Sweeney showing an Unreal 4 tech demo during the presentation. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare was also shown off on an iPad, although no release information for the game was provided.
iOS 8 will also include HomeKet, which lets iPhone and iPad users control home appliances and electronics with their mobile device. As an example, one could use the software to set up a home automation command that dims your lights, locks your doors, and closes your garage door if you tell Siri that you’re going to sleep.
Apple iOS 8 will be available as a beta for developers starting today, and will arrive in the fall for consumers. iOS 8 will work with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, fifth generation iPod touch, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display.