All those discussions I had lately about the new iPhones 6 and 6 Plus made me realise that many people know nothing about Apple’s new mobile operating system coming out on September 17th. Some people are not even aware that a new iOS will be released and others are just familiar with the name. Here is what is new in iOS 8:
The photo library will have a smart search feature which allows you to quickly find pictures or videos based on the date the photo was taken, location and album name. You’ll even get suggestions like for example “pictures taken nearby”. Also, the photo editing features got improved: An enhanced “crop and straighten option”, the ability to adjust lights and colours, a precise fine-tune capability and developers can now create new filters and editing tools accessible through the native Photos app.
After introducing a great slow motion filming option in iOS 7, Apple is giving its users the ability to film time-lapse videos. You know those videos showing a full sunset in 30 seconds? That’s a time-lapse.
Voice is now integrated in Messages. You record your voice and send the audio note directly. The impressive part is how you can listen to voice messages. You simply lift your iPhone to your ears and it will play by itself. As if it was a call. And you can also voice a reply by raising the phone back to your ears. In addition to the quick voice button, you’ll also have another one for pictures and videos.
Group conversations have been enhanced too and an interesting feature of it is location sharing: You can send your actual location, share it for an hour, till the end of the day or until an indefinite point in time. Sharing your location means that it will update your movements in live during the sharing time. The group members will be able to visualise all the shared locations on one map.
Finally, you can also set a lifetime for the media you are sending. Just like Snapchat. You can send a picture and specify that it should self-destruct and disappear in two minutes for instance.
In other words, the new Messages app kind of has its own features plus all the Whatsapp and Snapchat ones.
With iOS 8 you can interact with your notifications without stopping what you are doing. It is now possible for example to reply to a message directly from the notifications banner you get on top of the screen without leaving the app you’re in. Plus, double pressing the home button will not only show you the open apps. It will also give quick access to your list of favourite and recent contacts.
Apple is introducing Quicktype. It will give you word suggestions above the keyboard as you type. Some competitors already have this feature but iOS 8’s intelligent keyboard has an advantage: It gives you different suggestions based on the person you are writing to. The suggestions are based on the vocabulary you usually use with each person.
They are also opening the keyboard to developers which means that you will be able to download different “independent” keyboards with their own functionalities. Someone already created a GIF keyboard for iOS 8 for example.
With Family Sharing you can bring up to 6 family members in one group. All the members can use othe same payment method. They can share all the content they bought. No more need to pay for an app that your sister already bought. And you guys will all have access to a shared family photo album. Plus, you will all be subscribed to a family calendar to organise everything easily.
For families with young kids, this feature will offer more parental control. Parents can activate “ask to buy” where their permission will be needed to allow children to make purchases.
We often talk about the Apple ecosystem and the advantage of using an iPhone with an iPad and a Macbook. This synergy is becoming even more important with continuity. All your Apple devices can now live even more in harmony. With the new iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you can start something on one device and continue from the exact point where you are on another device. For example, you start writing an email on your Macbook and then continue from the exact same point on your phone in one click. You can now answer regular calls and messages from your laptop. And streaming an internet connection from your iPhone to your Macbook has become faster and easier.
The Health app is where you will find all your health and fitness data collected by your iPhone (if you have the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus), Apple Watch or external apps and connected devices. You can also create an emergency profile listing quickly important medical conditions in case you’re victim of an accident. This card is accessible from the lock screen.
The great fingerprint reader introduced with the iPhone 5S is now available for third party apps. Developers can now add it to their apps. For instance, Yoyo, a mobile payment app, already integrated Touch ID in their iOS 8 app. They allow you to login and top-up your account more securely by requiring your fingerprint.
iCloud Drive is exactly like Dropbox and Google Drive. You can store the files that you want in your own cloud storage and access it from any Apple device. It is also available on computers running Windows 7 or later. Also, in iCloud Drive enabled apps you can start new documents on the drive and it will be updated in real time on all your devices.
Apple’s search system, Spotlight, is now smarter. It’s basically the search bar that you get when you swipe the screen down. You can search the web directly from there with iOS 8. Get results from Wikipedia, news outlets, maps, iTunes, app store and suggested websites.
The Mail app now has an important feature that was quite annoying in previous iOSs: New emails are in tab formats which means that if you’re writing an email and need to go back to you inbox to check something you don’t need anymore to close the window, you can simply minimise it and get back to it in a touch.
Those are mainly the new features coming with iOS 8. There are some other improvements that you can find on Apple’s website. The new operating system is compatible with the iPhones 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus, the iPads 2, 3, 4, Air and Mini and the iPod Touch.
Release Date: September 17th, 2014.
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