Everything you know about your iPhone is about to change.
Okay, maybe not everything. It will still have the same design aspects introduced in iOS 7, the same shortcuts, the same improvements. But considering Apple has named iOS 8 the biggest iOS release yet, you can bet there are going to be some serious additions.
Hot on the heels of announcing their largest acquisition ever, Apple held their World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco last Monday. The tech giant announced a slew of new updates for iOS, the latest version of which will be available to the public this fall. In the meantime, read on to find out what these updates will mean for you.
1. An interactive notification center
You know that bar you see at the top of your screen whenever a text or Facebook notification shows up? Now you can reply, comment, or like, without ever having to switch apps. Simply drag down on the notification to interact. You will also be able to do this directly from your lock screen. In addition, the notification center—the page that appears when you swipe down from the top of your screen—now enables third-party widgets. This means you can have interactive information displayed for you right then and there, without having to launch the full app.
2. App extensions
With iOS 8, all of your apps can now interact with one another. Rather than having to jump in and out of various apps to accomplish a simple task, developers will have the option of allowing their apps to work in and within other apps. For example, instead of copying something from a Safari page to paste into a translator app, that translator app can now work inside Safari—all without you ever leaving. This is a much more efficient use of apps’ capabilities that has long existed on Android phones.
3. A redesigned app store
The app store is set to see a number of changes, including a new explore tab, a list of trending searches, and video previews for certain apps. Developers will also be able to sell apps in bundles at a discounted price.
4. The ability to make calls over WiFi
That’s right—iOS 8 will allow you to make phone calls with nothing but a WiFi signal. The media has for the most part overlooked this important feature, as it was only mentioned briefly at WWDC. As of right now, T-Mobile is the only carrier who will support WiFi Calling on iOS, but that isn’t to say others won’t jump on soon. Seeing as it took Verizon and AT&T ages to support FaceTime over a cellular connection, however, this might also be a while.
5. Battery usage reporting
Right now, you can go into your iPhone’s settings and see how much virtual space a certain app is taking up. With iOS 8, you will be able to take that a step further by seeing how much power a certain app is draining from your phone’s battery. Again, this feature has been around on Android for a while and is a welcome addition to the iOS software.
6. More control over your photos
While many iPhone users implement third-party apps to control their camera’s focus and exposure separately, users will now be able to do that right from the standard camera app. On top of this, the photo app will come with a new set of smart editing options. And then of course there is the brand new iCloud Photo Library, which will make all your photos available on all your devices. Users will be able to choose between 5GB for free, 20GB for $.99/month, or 200GB for $3.99/month.
7. Improved spotlight search
Previously, using your iPhone’s existing search tool only allowed you to index the apps, songs, and contacts already on your phone. With the new spotlight search, you can search anything and everything from the web, such as movie showtimes at nearby theaters, apps available in the app store, or a Wikipedia article. Basically, it’s like Siri without Siri.
Say someone texts you asking whether you want to get dinner or see a movie. A new feature known as Quicktype will give you three suggestions—“dinner,” “movie,” or “not sure.” Just tap one of these to reply, without having to use your keyboard at all. It also learns how you text different people and will predict not just the word you’re typing, but the word after that as well. Quicktype picks up on your habits and even takes into account which app you’re using. If that’s not for you, Apple has finally allowed third-party keyboards to be downloaded to your iOS device. That’s right . . . you can now use apps such as Swype as your default keyboard.
9. New messaging features
Want to add or remove someone from a group chat? iOS 8 will now allow you to do so. You can also name a certain thread, leave the thread at any time, and select a “do not disturb” option per thread. Another new feature that will have some people excited is the option to have photos self-destruct a la Snapchat. In addition, you can send audio and video messages and even temporarily share your location with contacts.
With Continuity, all of your devices can communicate with each other much more easily. Along with OS X Yosemite, you can start an email or iWork document on your Mac and pick up with it on your iPad or iPhone. You can also turn your iPhone into a WiFi hotspot right from your Mac.
Ever find yourself wishing you could view information from all of your health and fitness apps in one place? HealthKit will allow you to do just that. For example, users will be able to view data from an app that tracks sleeping habits alongside data from wearable third-party devices such as the Nike Fuelband, all in one convenient location. It is also suspected that HealthKit will eventually work alongside the yet-to-be-announced iWatch.
12. Family sharing
This feature enables family members to link their accounts, meaning they can now share photos, calenders, and reminders with one another. The system centers around a single credit card, and also allows family members access to each other’s purchases. Worried about your kid buying every app in sight without you knowing? Now a request will be sent to the parent’s phone asking permission to purchase an app. Good thinking, Apple.
13. A completely hands-off Siri
Say you’re driving and don’t want to take your hands off the wheel to ask Siri a question. With iOS 8, all you have to do is say, “Hey, Siri,” and Siri will automatically begin listening. On top of this, Shazam comes built in to Siri, enabling her to identify any song within earshot. There are also 22 new dictation languages she can recognize, a voice recognition feature, and the ability to purchase iTunes content without touching a thing.
With the iPhone 5S, users were able to unlock their iPhones with nothing but a fingerprint. Despite the new feature, third-party apps were unable to access the fingerprint function for their own use. That will officially change with iOS 8. Now you will be able to access your bank account simply by scanning your fingertip. Other applications of this feature are yet to be seen, but it will likely extend to other passwords as well.
The internet of things is one step closer to being a reality. HomeKit will allow iPhone users to connect with smarthome devices such as locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, and switches. Perhaps the most awesome aspect of this is its integration with Siri. Simply tell Siri that it’s time for bed, and HomeKit will ensure that your garage is closed, your doors are locked, and your lights are dimmed.
Wanna know more about how Apple’s iOS has developed over the years? Check out this video from The Verge below.