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iOS 8 download available 17 September, 2 days before iPhone 6 launch

You'll be able to get Apple’s essential update on Wednesday 17 September. Here’s what you can look forward to…

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Apple has announced that iOS 8 will be available to download on 17 September, 2 days before the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. 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.

Here’s what we know so far…

Notifications

You can now action Notifications as they arrive, so if you get a text in the middle of playing a game, you can simply swipe down on the notification, type out a reply in the box, and hit send, all without leaving the game you’re playing. Notifications on the lock screen are getting more interactive as well, and third-party apps can also add widgets to Notification Center, allowing you to carry out actions like bid on Ebay items without having to open any specific app.

Mail and Safari

On iPad 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. 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.

Spotlight

Spotlight will now let you search for apps and songs that you haven’t yet downloaded, see the latest news news and get cinema listings as well as streaming content.

QuickType

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, so you can replace your standard keyboard with a different option if you wish.

Quick contacts

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.

Health

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.

The app will pair with 3rd party fitness devices, but it is designed to work brilliantly with the new Apple Watch. The Watch will send data to your iPhone, where it will be collected in the Health app.

Messaging

Group texts and iMessages have new functions in iOS 8, including options for naming the thread, leaving the thread and enabling Do Not Disturb. And you can share your location with people in a conversation too.

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 and speaking an audio reply. Another win for Apple.

iCloud Drive

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.

Family Sharing

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 by adding accounts that use the same credit card, and you will all be able to share everything with each other instantly

Photos

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.

Siri

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 now activate Siri with your voice – completely hands free!

App Store

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.

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