Apple announced iOS 8, the newest iteration to its mobile operating system at WWDC 2014. iOS 8 comes with tons of software improvements and performance upgrade but still keeping the design from iOS 7 which was one of the biggest overhaul since the iOS 2.
The announcement included some of the most needed improvements in Notification Center and iMessages. The upgrade has shown a significant refinement of the communication between OS X and iOS with features like Airdrop between iOS and OS X and Hand offs.
The public release of iOS 8 will come during fall after a lot of changes under the hood over the weeks of beta testing. It’s available for developers for download right now at developer.apple.com.
A lot of interesting new features have been included in iOS 8, Let’s take a close look.
Notifications and Notification Center with Widgets
With iOS 8, Notifications can be responded from Notification view and lock screen without having to open the application. Also, Notification Center now supports widgets, Apple has allowed third-party applications to have its own widgets for quick glance-able information.
Spotlight has been improved to give more information than ever before. Spotlight can now show information directly from Wikipedia rather than a suggestion to search for it. The new spotlight will show map entires, movies and music available on iTunes and Wikipedia articles.
QuickType Keyboard and Third party keyboard Support
The keyboard on iOS has been the same for a long time. With iOS 8, Apple has implemented a new feature called QuickType which answers replied based on the conversation context. Finally, Apple has allowed support for third-party keyboards which means Swiftkey, Fleksy and Swype can be set as native keyboard in iOS.
iMessages improvements with Video and Chat
iMessages got a huge improvement with audio and video messages. Features like naming group conversations and location sharing have also been included with the iOS update. Group messaging have been improved with do-not-disturb mode and ability to remove people from conversations.
Continuity – iOS and OS X
Apple has always seamlessly integrated iOS and OS X devices to seamlessly work together. iOS 8 has been the biggest upgrade to take that even further. Now, you’ll be able to continue work from Mac to iOS like typing out mails or working on a document on Pages. Also, tethering your iPhone will work seamlessly. The biggest improvement is definitely the ability to send SMS and make calls from your Mac if your iPhone is close by.
iCloud lacked some of the basic functionality of a cloud service. It let developers integrate iCloud into their own apps letting you store the files from that app alone. Also, those files were not accessible outside that app. Now with iCloud drive, it works the way any other cloud service would like Dropbox or Box but with better and deeper integration.
The photo app on iOS 8 has been greatly improved with advanced editing tools. Also, third party developers will be able to access the share sheet. In addition to that, apps like VSCO Cam can directly integrate their filters inside the Photos app.
Health and Health Kit
HealthKit is an app to keep track of fitness data and health. It can monitor data from third party applications and provide information in one single location.
This is a new feature included in iOS 8 which will let 6 members of family share iTunes purchases across different devices which are linked to the same credit card. It also includes sharing of photos and calendar events. Parents can now approve or deny purchases made on the children’s devices.
Always listening Siri, “Hey,Siri”
Siri can now be activated by saying “Hey, Siri”. This is the touchless control over Siri which had been wanted by a lot of iOS users for a very long time. This feature although indicated will work only when plugged in for power.
Now, developers will finally be able to use Touch ID for their apps. It is still secure and safe. Apple like 1Password would be able to use Touch ID for authentication.
SDK changes were the biggest in the event. New tools like Metal and SpriteKit will be made available for developers. Also, CloudKit for apple powered Cloud services and HomeKit for home automation services to integrate iOS better to their products. The biggest change was Swift. It is Apple’s brand new programming language. This is the first time Apple has made it’s jump from Objective C. From the looks of it, Sprite seems to be easier and a lot faster to code on.
iOS 8 brings a lot of improvements in terms of functionality and overall perfromance. The demo on stage at WWDC showed a lot of reduce animation and much quicker iOS than the previous iteration.