Apple have announced iOS 8, their next major operating system release, at the WWDC keynote in California. The new operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch includes Health, an app to help track daily exercise, calories, sleep and more, as well as a new iCloud Drive, improvements to Notifications, typing and the keyboard, and an even better Photos app.
You can now action Notifications as they arrive, so next time you get an event invite you can simply swipe the alert to the side to reveal your Accept and Decline buttons.
The best news here is that widgets can now be added from your third party applications. You can action these widgets too – Craig Federighi placed a bid on eBay from Notification Center during his demo.
Mail and Safari
There’s now a bird’s eye view of all your open Safari tabs for even greater clarity.
As for Mail, you can now swipe over messages to delete them and move them into folders. You can also mark messages as unread and flag them, so Mail really has been tooled up with some next-gen features. And when you’re composing a message you can also pull the whole thing down to show your inbox – handy when you’re typing in info from another message.
You can now search for apps and songs that you haven’t yet downloaded, you can search for news and you can get cinema listings as well as streaming content. As with OS X Yosemite, you can get answers to simple questions and conversions.
Texting has just changed forever – Apple has introduced predictive messaging, so your device will learn your how you write and use language over time and begin to offer more and more relevant suggestions for the next word that you’re about to type. And all of this is ready for all supported languages.
Not only that, but third party keyboards are now supported (and sandboxed for security). Yep, that’s right. You can now change your keyboard.
Along the top of Multitasking you can now see your favourite contacts, making it even quicker and easier to call the people who matter most to you.
iOS 8 also includes a slightly revamped version of multitasking. The new multitasking system added in last year’s iOS 7 release changed how users interacted with multiple screens, and this year’s changes allow users to work with two apps on a single screen. Schiller didn’t demo this feature on stage, but the system allows you to pair certain apps together and copy and paste items between them.
One of the main focuses for the keynote was Health, an app that tracks aspects of your life to help you stay in shape. You can link in all your third party apps that track your stats, like steps walked, kilometres run or cycled, your weight, how much sleep you’ve had, the whole works. Also, your blood pressure will be automatically pinged to your doctor if it falls below a certain level, so they can get in touch with you pre-emptively. It’s all about making use of this data to actually improve your health, and prevent problems before they happen.
You can now have group conversations, complete with options for naming the thread, leaving the thread and enabling Do Not Disturb for threads! And you can share your location with people in a conversation too. Plus, you can go straight to your Messaging thread from the lock screen by swiping over any new alerts. Fantastic.
Even better, you can take photos and record video or audio on the fly and insert it instantly into your thread. And you can also respond to messages instantly from your lock screen by simply raising your iPhone to your ear. Another win for Apple.
All edits that you make in your third party apps are kept synced through iCloud Drive, and you can access them all through its own interface. The best thing is that there is no duplication of files – all edits are made to the originals, in their relevant apps, keeping your stored files down and saving you space.
You can find your kids’ devices, share media, calendars and reminders and also share each other’s iTunes purchases – all you need to do is set yourself up as a family in iOS and you will all be able to share everything with each other.
Photo Stream has been expanded. You now have smart suggestions to help you find photos by time (e.g. a year ago), locations (e.g. nearby) and more. And you can now store even more photos, and all your filter and effect edits are synced too.
Editing has become even better, too. The Edit tool in Photos now gives you even finer control over your improvements, and the auto-enhance option has become even smarter.
Shazam integration means you can get Siri to listen to a song that’s playing around you, identify it and then offer you a purchase option. And you can bow activate Siri with your voice – completely hands free!
Related searches are now displayed, as is an editor’s choice. Add to this continuous scrolling and app previews, and it’s now even easier to find exactly the app you want and then check it out before you download it.
In addition to opening up the Photos and TouchID APIs to developers, Apple announced HomeKit. You’ll be able to use Siri to dim your lights, close your garage doors and set the alarm, all on the way out the front door as you simply command your iPhone.
iOS 8 is expected to launch alongside a new iPhone in September this year. A beta version is currently available to Apple Developers.
The iOS 8 Beta is available now.