On Monday, Apple opened its WWDC developer conference with the introduction of iOS 8. On a visual level, the reveal wasn't quite as transforming as the launch of iOS 7. Instead, this time Apple revealed new features to make every iOS device more functional in our busy lives. That includes making changes to the Photos app, the way we send messages, keeping tabs on our health and so on.
"iOS 8 offers simpler, faster and more intuitive ways to use your device with incredible new features like iCloud Photo Library, a new Messages app, the QuickType keyboard and an entirely new Health app," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering (opens in new tab). "We're also giving developers amazing new tools to make managing your health and your home from your devices an integrated, simple and secure experience."
Here's a brief list of what Apple will introduce in iOS this fall:
Instead of limiting the user's photos to only 1,000 in Apple's Photo Stream, the company is now allowing users to store all photos and videos in the cloud so that they can be accessed by any device. There are also new Smart Editing features, and a better photo search within the app.
The updated iMessage app lets users communicate with just a swipe for purposes such as sharing videos, photos, or voice messages. Group messaging now provides the ability to not be disturbed, to remove and add contacts, and leave a conversation. There's also an option to show the messenger's current location for an hour or longer, as needed.
Here users can swipe down to respond to a message, even on the lock screen. iOS 8 also allows users to receive texts and respond to them no matter what application is open. As an example, if you're trolling through Facebook and get a message, you can answer right then and there; no exiting Facebook and launching the messaging app. Contacts you've communicated with most frequently can be accessed with a double tap as well.
Up to six members can participate in Family Sharing, with each requiring their own Apple ID. Users can browse and download iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases from other group members. This feature automatically keeps all members connected by generating a shared calendar and photo stream. There's also an option to locate family members and their devices.
Apple's iOS 8 allows health and fitness apps to communicate with each other. The Health app in turn gathers the information from various health apps and fitness devices, providing a summary of the user's overall health and fitness. In addition to typical iOS app developers, medical institutions and health providers can also create apps for Apple's new HealthKit system.
Apple reports that this keyboard is "smarter and more personalized," and takes context into account. The software will suggest favorite phrases, allowing users to type with just a couple of taps. Apple indicates that the data is encrypted on the device itself, and will not be sent into the cloud.
Apple has finally jumped on the data locker bandwagon with iCloud, which allows users to store data in the cloud and access that information from any device with iOS, Windows and Mac.
This allows users to start an activity on one iOS device and finish on another, seemingly paving the way for Apple's supposed iTV feature that allows customers to start a movie on one iOS device and finish on another iOS gadget. This service includes phone calls, allowing users to answer calls when using the iPad or Mac.
Apple's personal assistant can be activated without touching the phone by merely saying "Hey Siri." The AI also has Shazam integration, 22 new dictation languages, the ability to purchase content from iTunes, and streaming voice recognition.
Apple's upcoming iOS 8 platform will be available this fall as a software update for 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.