Here’s All The Best New Stuff In iOS 8
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Today at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple showed off the latest version of the OS that powers its iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches: iOS 8. Here’s a quick look at everything new.
The biggest, most obvious changes to iOS 8 are in how it plays friendly with computers running OS X. Apple calls these “Continuity” features.
“Handoff” automatically detects when your iPhone or iPad is near your Mac, and lets you send whatever you’re working on (documents, emails, sites you’re viewing) from one device to the other.
Here, for example, OS X realizes that you’re typing an email on your iPhone. If you click that icon, OS X will import your in-progress message and let you continue where you left off.
“Instant Hotspot” recognizes when your tethering-enabled iPhone is nearby. If there’s no WiFi available but your iPhone has connectivity, you can connect through it without ever taking your phone out.
iOS can also now push all of your text messages to your other devices, letting you send and view texts from your laptop or iPad the same way you would an iMessage.
OS X can also now show Caller ID notifications for incoming calls, and, better yet…
Make And Take Calls From OS X
It can receive and make calls, too. The call itself will still go through your iPhone, but it’ll use your Mac as a speakerphone.
When you get a notification of a new text message, you can swipe down on the message to reply on-the-fly
This works for notifications beyond messages, too. Take event invite alerts, for example — you can accept or decline without ever opening the calendar.
Lock Screen Responses
These same alerts will show on your lockscreen, as well — just swipe to respond.
The app switcher screen (the screen that pops up when you double tap the home button) will now display a quick-access list of your most recent contacts.
Favorite People – Expanded
Tapping one of these recent contacts will give you one-touch buttons for calling, texting, or Facetime
Safari has a new “top down” tab view, in addition to the standard tab view displayed at the top of your browsing window. This view shows you thumbnails of each tab you have opened, grouped by site.
In the Mail app, you can now swipe each email to flag or delete it. A long swipe to the left, for example, instantly trashes an email.
iOS’ keyboard now features something Apple calls “quicktype”, which tries to guess what the next word you’re about to type will be and offers that word up at a single button press.
Quicktype is context sensitive, allowing it to detect inbound questions like “Dinner or a movie?” and auto-offer responses at a tap.
It’ll even learn the way you talk to specific contacts (Formal with your boss? More casual with your friends?) and offer different words accordingly.
Much Needed Group Messaging Features
iOS 8’s Messenger app picks up a few things people have been begging for for ages: the ability to leave a thread, rename a thread, go into “Do Not Disturb” mode, and add/remove thread participants.
You can also opt-in to share your current location with the other members of a group message. Handy for meeting up with people!
Tap To Talk
Curiously, Apple has added a “Tap To Talk” button for quickly sending voice messages in messenger. You tap and hold the record button, talk, then swipe up to send instantly.
Borrowing a page from Snapchat, iMessages can now be set to “expire” (self-destruct) after a set number of minutes.
VIP Email Threads
If you’re waiting for a particularly important email response, you can opt to get a big ol’ notification on your home screen every time a new message appears in that specific thread
With iOS 8, Apple is trying to bring all of the data from your myriad health apps (running apps, fitness trackers, etc) into one place: their new Health app.
You can now mark contacts as “Family”, allowing you to have a shared family calendar, or a family photostream with up to 6 people.
You can also share purchased apps, music, and movies with your family members. The catch: all six family members have to be using the same credit card to share purchases.
Kids can now send purchase requests to their parents, allowing parents to moderate what their kids are buying even when they’re not in the same room.
The Photos app now has more advanced built-in editing features, for things like photo straightening and brightening.
Photo tweak syncing
If your devices are synced on iCloud, tweaks made to photos on one device are instantly made on all of your other synced devices.
When you’re driving, Siri can now listen for “Hey, Siri!” command for hands-free operation. She can also recognize songs (powered by Shazam), and the voice recognition is all streamed word-by-word (rather than in one big burst at the end)
China Gets Upgrades
iOS users in China are getting a handful of features specific to their market, the biggest of which is probably turn-by-turn navigation
There’s a ton of other, smaller stuff that Apple couldn’t quite fit into the presentation — like the addition to pick DuckDuckGo as your search engine of choice
Developers can now sell “App Bundles” — that is, they can sell a bunch of applications together for a marked-down price.
In a feature that took a surprisingly long time to show up, app developers can now offer up video previews of their apps right within the App Store
Developers can offer beta programs right through the app store — something they’ve been clamoring for for ages
Third party apps can now add widgets to the dropdown notification center. See here, for example, the ESPN SportsCenter widget
Finally! Third parties (like Swype) can now build their own keyboards
TouchID in third-party apps
Third party apps can now tie into TouchID for fingerprint-based logins. Apple says they’ve spent ages making this as secure as possible
Home automation is coming. Smart lightbulbs! Smart thermostats! Homekit is Apple’s way to start putting all of that stuff in one app. It’ll also have Siri support, for things like “Siri, set house to ‘bedtime’ mode” to dim the lights and lock the doors.
That's all, folks!
iOS 8 will launch this fall, with free availability for everyone with an iPhone 4S or newer, the iPad 2 or newer, and the 5th gen iPod touch. Developers, meanwhile, get access to iOS 8 beginning today.