iOS 8 – Apple’s new operating system for the iPhone and iPad, has begun appearing on Australian phones since its launch overnight. And while the new iOS unveilings are always filled with countless incremental improvements and appearance tweaks, iOS 8 contains an extensive list of new technologies that are sure to revolutionise consumers’ day-to-day use of their iPhones and iPads.
To showcase the plethora of new features present in iOS 8, here is a brief description of 10 of the best features it offers. Keep in mind this is only a small window into the true iOS 8 – each feature has a vast number of elements to it.
The following is a brief description of the selected new features and technologies that make up our top 10 list.
1. Message overhaul
The iOS Messages App has a number of new functions, including the ability to instantly send voice messages, music recordings, video and your GPS location as they happen. Group messages can now be named, and you can leave (or make others leave) whenever you want – or select Do Not Disturb to read through the messages when you have time. Don’t like the standalone Facebook Messenger app? There is now an alternative.
2. ‘Health’ App
The Health app collates all of the data from your third-party health apps and presents it in an integrated, efficient and accessible interface – an overview of your overall health. The user customises what is measured and shared among third-party health apps – down to the finest detail. Privacy of medical information is paramount, and this is recognised by Apple, and others.
Quicktype presents the biggest change to the keyboard in iPhone history. It makes your keyboard more personal, through the use of predictive text based on past conversations. The predictive text is context-specific, not just between Mail and Messages apps, but between individual contacts too.
4. Third-party keyboards
This one deserves its own section. Available for the first time on an iOS device, the keyboard has been opened up to developers. Android users have for a long time bragged about their multiple options, including the popular ‘swipe rather than type’ keyboard interface. Now, iOS 8 users get these options and more – check out the Keymoji keyboard.
Family Sharing allows up to six people in your family to share access to purchases from iTunes, iBooks and the App Store, as well as share access to photos – including a family photo album, which each member can contribute to. There’s even an integrated calendar to keep track of everyone’s schedule. A number of adjustable controls on purchases will please parents of younger children.
6. iCloud Drive
Basically, iCloud Drive is a folder to save documents in, which can be accessed from any of your Apple devices – OS X or iOS, even PC. Documents, presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc. can all be started, edited and finished across all of your OS X, iOS devices and PC, then saved in the same location every time.
Unlike iCloud Drive, the Handoff feature is purely for Apple devices – but its abilities are far superior. Link all your devices to the same iCloud account, and watch as the email you were writing on your desktop can be finished on your iPhone on the train. Or your web browsing can be continued from where you left it. It also works with other apps including Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts.
Handoff is a big part of the new Continuity feature of iOS 8. Other highlights include support for Wi-Fi calls, adding to the already popular iMessage, but with a twist. If your Apple devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can answer a call on your iMac or iPad if your iPhone is out of reach. You can even make phone calls from all of your linked devices, not just the iPhone.
The new Notification Center has been refined with interactive notifications, allowing users to reply to messages from the pull-down window. Users will not have to leave the app they are in, open the required app, or even unlock their device to reply to messages or interact with content. This feature is also now open to developers, so we should see some exciting new app integration in the near future.
Finally we see some better search functions to help navigate through the Photos app, which can often contain thousands of photos that are notoriously hard to scroll through. Search by date, time, location and album name, including smart suggestions. These smart suggestions provide access to photos taken at the same time last year, or even photos taken near your current location. A slew of new editing tools are also included, as is the new ability to create time-lapse videos.