Apple has announced iOS 8, the next version of its mobile operating system which will be released in the fall. In this post we’ll talk about what to expect.
A few weeks back, Apple gave the public a preview of iOS 8 at its World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). There are a ton of new features that will be coming this fall to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch near you. In this post, we’ll run down and explain the most exciting new features that you can expect to see in iOS 8.
New Stock Keyboard with QuickType – Compared to other platforms like Android, iOS’ keyboard is starting to feel dated – you still need to key in every letter you wish to use. The new stock keyboard in iOS 8, though, will feature a technology called QuickType. QuickType will suggest words for you as you type. Tapping on a suggested word allows you to quickly insert it. What’s more, QuickType will learn about your writing style to more intelligently suggest words and is even context aware so that it will suggest different words when you’re communicating to your boss versus your spouse. QuickType should greatly improve the experience of typing on iOS.
Third Party Keyboard Support – One of the huge, and rather unexpected, themes of WWDC this year was that Apple is making some significant strides toward making iOS a more open platform. This means that they are giving software developers greater access to various areas of iOS that previously had been off-limits for third-party software. Perhaps the most exciting announcement in this vein is that Apple will allow users to install third-party keyboards on iOS. This means that third-party keyboards like Swype and Fleksy, which have been available for some time on Android, will now be usable on iOS. This is a dramatic change and will give users much greater control over the typing experience on iOS.
Continuity – In my opinion, a set of features that Apple’s calling Continuity is one of the most amazing new feature sets that iOS 8 will bring to the table. Continuity will allow all of your Apple devices that run iOS or Mac OS to communicate with each other much more fluidly.
Handoff – Handoff allows you to begin writing something on one device, say your iPhone, and then pick it up and finish writing it on your Mac, iPad, or iPod Touch. Handoff works for other things as well like websites. Looking at a site on your Mac that you’d like to continue reading on the go? Just open it on your iPhone and take it with you. It also works with other apps like Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. Handoff will even be available on third-party apps if developers choose to include it, which I hope many of them will!
Place and receive phone calls on a Mac – This feature blows me away. iOS 8 will allow you to use your iPhone as a transmitter to make or receive phone calls on your Mac. Using your Mac and see a number you’d like to call? Just a few clicks and you’ll be able to dial out to it and use your Mac as a speakerphone to talk, even if your iPhone is across the room. Getting a phone call while you’re working on your Mac? Just click the notification that appears and answer the call without even having to touch your iPhone. Awesome. It also works from your cellular iPad.
Compose and receive text messages on your Mac – Similar to how the Mac can use the iPhone as a transmitter for phone calls, iOS 8 will also allow you to send and receive text messages on your Mac. Now, you could previously receive iMessages on your Mac using the Messages application, but not the green text messages that would come to your iPhone from non-iOS based users. Now that’s a thing of the past!
Quick Hot-Spot – What if you’re on a bus with your MacBook Air and want to send some emails but don’t have an internet connection? The new version of Mac OS X, called Yosemite, automatically detects your iPhone as a hotspot and lets you use it to connect your Mac to the internet with one click directly from your Mac’s menu bar.
Widgets – Another sign of Apple beginning to open up iOS, iOS 8 will allow apps to install widgets in your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch’s Notification Center. A potential example of this is a prototype widget that Philips has previewed for its Hue line of smart lightbulbs. Widgets will provide users with quick access to important information without even having to open an app. They will also likely make Notification Center much more useful.
Family Sharing – Family Sharing allows up to six Apple ID’s in one family share purchases with one another as long as they’re connected to the same credit card. This includes music, movies, books, and apps. It also enables a family photo album in iCloud automatically so all your family’s photos are in one place. Sharing calendars with family members also becomes much easier with Family Sharing. Find My Friends and Find my iPhone are also automatically integrated with Family Sharing. Finally, Family Sharing allows parents to approve or decline purchases their kids would like to make from the App Store directly on their own device.
Interactive Notifications (Quick Reply) – iOS 8 finally brings Quick Reply to iOS, and in a big way! Now you’ll be able to simply swipe down on a banner notification when you receive a text message to reply to it without even leaving the app your in. Furthermore, Interactive Notifications will let you quickly accept or decline calendar invitations, mark mail messages as red or move them to the trash, mark reminders complete or snooze them. And even better, Apple is allowing third-party developers to integrate Interactive Notifications with their apps – for example liking or commenting on a Facebook post directly from a banner notification.
Contacts in Multitasking Mode – iOS 8 now stores shortcuts to your favorite and most recently accessed contacts directly in the multitasking switcher. This way it’s quicker than ever before to interact with the people you care about most.
Third-Party Touch ID Support – Many people were surprised when Apple introduced Touch ID last year that they didn’t allow third-party apps and services to interact with it. Well, with iOS 8, they will. This means that when you open your banking app, you’ll only need to touch your thumb to the home button of a Touch ID enabled device to securely log in.
Enhanced Spotlight Search – Apple’s Spotlight search feature got a ton of enhancements both on iOS and on the Mac. On iOS, you’ll now be able to search for many more types of items including Wikipedia entries, news, nearby places, content on the iTunes, App, and iBooks stores, suggested websites, and movie showtimes right from Spotlight. What’s more, in iOS 8 Spotlight is also integrated directly into the address bar in Safari.
Health App – The new Health App that will debut with iOS 8 this fall is Apple’s attempt to create an ecosystem for many of the smart devices that now exist that track your health. The Health App will allow health related devices to store information they record about you in one place. This app is also likely a prelude to the rumored iWatch wearable device that Apple will likely release this year, which is expected to track a lot of health related information.
Messages App Upgrades – Apple’s Messages app is arguably falling behind some third party apps like Snapchat. They needed to innovate to keep it relevant. They did.
Enhanced Mail App – The Mail App is getting a big facelift in iOS 8. You will be able to swipe across a message to mark it as read or unread, or swipe the other way to flag it or move it to the trash – all in one fluid motion. There is also a new feature that lets you hide the current draft you’re working on to look at other messages in your mailbox, and then quickly bring the draft back into view. Finally, the Mail App has gotten a lot smarter in iOS 8. It now recognizes important information automatically like contact information, reservations, flight confirmations, and more.
Safari for iPad – Safari for iPad is also getting some exciting enhancements. A great new tab view lets you see all your open tabs at a glance and sidebar, a feature found in Safari on Mac OS X, lets you quickly access your favorite sites.
Changes to the App Store – Features like new tabs – “Explore” and “Trending” – combined with short video previews of apps and an “Editor’s Choice” label will make browsing the App Store and finding great apps much easier in iOS 8.
Photos & Camera App Enhancements – The Camera and Photos apps get some powerful new features in iOS 8.
New Editing Tools – The Photos App will receive many powerful editing tools in iOS 8. These include smart composition tools which automatically straighten and crop your photos, smart adjustment tools that intelligently adjust your photos’ settings to make them look great, and new photo filters and advanced editing tools.
New Siri Features – Siri has a couple new tricks up her sleeve in iOS 8. First, she now has an “always listening” mode. This means that when your device is plugged in to power, whether in your car or in your office, you can simply say, “Hey Siri,” followed by your question to use Siri without even having to touch your device. Next, Siri integrates Shazam song identification natively so that you can quickly find out what song you’re listening to.
iOS 8 promises to be one of the biggest software releases Apple has made in recent memory. It brings tons of new features to the table and it will be exciting to see how developers will take some of the new capabilities Apple is giving them and innovate new, exciting apps and services. We should see iOS 8 launch to the public alongside the iPhone 6 in the fall. I, for one, will be waiting eagerly.
Find out more about iOS 8 on Apple’s website.