Apple iOS 8: Top 11 features

The latest version of Apple’s iOS – iOS 8 – is not really a complete overhaul of iOS 7 but rather a major step forward in ease of use and intuitive operation for those already used to iPhones and iPads.

It is so closely integrated with the yet-to-be released MacOS X 10.10 Yosemite operating system for MacBooks and desktop Macs, that it virtually blends the two into a single environment, making it the most significant software development Apple has made in years.

iOS 8 is available for download to Apple devices from Wednesday, at no particular time. An Apple spokeswoman said notification to update would begin appearing on people’s phones gradually through the day.

iOS 8 has an actionable notification centre. For example, appointment invitations can be accepted or declined in the alert.iOS 8 has an actionable notification centre. For example, appointment invitations can be accepted or declined in the alert.

On Tuesday Telstra issued warnings that downloads should be done via Wi-Fi rather than over the mobile network, unless you want a big data bill. The file is more than 3GB in size.

The new version of the software will be compatible with iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display. It will not run on the iPhone 4 or earlier devices.

Here’s a short list of the best features in iOS 8. Some will be available as soon as you have installed the new OS,, others will be delayed until it Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10) is released in October.

Apple iOS 8's new Photos app.Apple iOS 8’s new Photos app.

If you are an iPhone or iPad user but do not have an Apple Mac, some of the features will not be available to you.

1. Continuity and Handoff

Continuity is the basis of the marriage of iOS8 and Yosemite. It means your Mac and your iPhone 6 recognise one another when they are in proximity and work seamlessly together. It includes AirDrop, the app that allows you to transfer photos and other files between devices. It is now compatible on all devices.

Apple iOS 8's new keyboard should up your grammar game.Apple iOS 8’s new keyboard should up your grammar game.

Handoff is the backbone of Continuity. It allows you to start a document or an email on one device, or begin browsing a webpage, and pick it up at the place you left off on another machine. It’s a gift to the time-poor business person. It uses Bluetooth LE (Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy) and requires an iCloud account for Handoff to know all those Apple devices belong to the same person. It does not work on Windows.

2. Messages

The messaging service, now simply called Messages, is vastly improved. SMS and MMS messages that previously were available only on the iPhone now appear on all devices and are manageable from them all. Using integration with Yosemite and Hotspot connection with the iPhone you can send text or audio messages from the Mac and pick up or initiate iPhone calls using your Mac as a speakerphone. Phone numbers can be sourced from one’s Contacts, a Calendar entry or a website.

In the case of SMS and MMS to non-Apple phones, Message works just as they did with iOS 7.

3. Notification Centre

The Notification Centre is much improved and is now interactive allowing instant replies by text or email from within the notification banner. Third-party widgets can be installed in Notifications where previously only Apple-made widgets were allowed.

4. Health App

This is one of the biggies of iOS 8. It is designed to aggregate data from third-party health, fitness and body monitoring apps, of which there is a growing plethora.

It will also integrate with the Apple Watch which carries four sensors on its back to monitor vital signs such as heart rate and activity. The Watch will run a modified but generally compatible version of iOS 8.

5. Spotlight

Spotlight search (since iOS 7 available just by dragging the home screen down) promises to be better and faster, searching beyond the iPhone, reaching into the internet, iTunes, locations, friends and more.

6. Quicktype

A smart keyboard offers word suggestions as a message is typed and is designed to pick up on an individual’s writing style and use of idiom. It will eventually make tailored suggestions

7. Photos

This app has been redesigned with a new iCloud library. Every photo and video taken can be uploaded to iCloud so they can be downloaded to any device. Apple recently increased users’ iCloud storage capacity and lowered the price of the packages, following the Jennifer Lawrence nude photo iCloud hack.

Photo Search has been impressively improved. It’s now possible to search for a picture by date, time, location, album name in a precise or general way using terms such as “nearby …” or “a year ago”.

8. Video    

The greatly improved optics of the two iPhone 6 models has been matched by new video modes – time-lapse and 240 frames-per-second slow motion.  New controls for exposure, lighting adjustment, focus and colour have been added and third-party filters may now be installed.

9. Mail

Mail has gained new swipe gestures to quickly flag, delete or mark messages as read. The app has gained new smarts and can now recognise information such as an airline or restaurant booking or a phone number and allow it to be recorded in other apps such as Contacts and Calendar.

10. Siri

Apple’s personal assistant now answers to a voice call: just holler “Hey, Siri!” if the phone is within earshot and she will answer without the need to press the home button.

She’s also learnt some new tricks, such as being able to recognise music and song lyrics via Shazam software to identify music for you, buy from iTunes and take directions in 22 languages.

11. Family Sharing

This new Yosemite-integrated featureallows up to six people with iTunes accounts to share apps, iBooks, music, movies, using the same credit card.  Wisely, Apple has built in parental controls on this feature. Sharing can also be extended to photos, calendar, reminders and so on. Find My Friends – the app that allows you to track the kids’ wherabouts – has been included in the family Sharing feature.

Source From http://www.smh.com.au