Apple has today unveiled iOS 8, billed as the biggest release since the launch of the App Store.
According to Cupertino, iOS 8 delivers a "simpler, faster and more intuitive user experience", with a raft of new features.
“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,” says Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
“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.”
What to expect...
In iOS 8, the Photos app and iCloud Photo Library give you access to all of your photos and videos anytime, anywhere.
The Photos app can automatically straighten horizons and with smart editing tools, you can quickly adjust light and colour or access individual tools for deeper fine-tuning.
With iCloud Photo Library, every adjustment and effect is automatically updated across your devices.
Conversations in Messages become more immersive with the ability to communicate with just a swipe. Tap to Talk allows you to share your voice and the same simple gesture also works for sharing videos and photos within Messages.
Group messaging now gives you the ability to add and remove contacts, leave a conversation and the option to not be disturbed.
Users can browse through all of the photos and videos within a conversation and share multiple photos and videos at once. You can choose to share your current location from within Messages for an hour, a day or longer.
The new Health app gathers the information you choose from your various health apps and fitness devices, and provides you with a clear and current overview in one place. iOS 8 offers developers the ability for health and fitness apps to communicate with each other.
With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness.
For example, the Nike+ apps using NikeFuel will be able to pull in other key HealthKit metrics such as sleep and nutrition to build a custom user profile and improve athletic performance.
New predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType keyboard intelligently takes context into account, such as who the recipient is and in which app you’re typing.
QuickType understands the way you communicate, suggesting favourite phrases, so you can write entire sentences with just a few taps. What the keyboard learns is encrypted on your device and never sent to the cloud.
iOS 8 introduces Family Sharing, allowing family members can browse and download each other’s iTunes, iBooks or App Store purchases. Up to six members can participate, each with their own Apple ID.
Parents can create Apple IDs for children, which includes Ask to Buy, requiring parental permission for purchases.
Family Sharing automatically keeps everyone connected by creating a shared family photo stream, shared calendar and provides an option for locating family members and their devices.
With iCloud Drive, documents of any type can be safely stored, accessed and edited across your devices.
Make edits on one device and the most up-to-date version of your documents will be available across all devices, whether an iOS device, Mac, Windows PC or on www.icloud.com.
iCloud Drive brings a whole new level of collaboration between apps, providing seamless access and the ability to work on the same file across multiple apps.
For Enterprise, iOS 8 builds on the new IT model for a mobilised workforce by improving the way users are informed of how their devices are configured, managed or restricted.
iOS 8 offers expanded security and management improvements as well as new productivity features, including an expanded level of data protection for key built-in apps, the ability to set your out of office response, see your colleague’s availability when scheduling a meeting and support for configurable Thread Notifications in Mail.
Additional iOS 8 features include:
• design enhancements that build off the interface of iOS 7, bringing interactive notifications, quick access to key contacts, the ability to quickly switch back and forth between the inbox and drafts in Mail, as well as intelligent suggestions;
• extended Spotlight capabilities that give you results beyond what’s on your device, including articles from Wikipedia, findings from the news and results from places nearby; and
• greater continuity between iPhone, iPad and Mac, including Handoff to start an activity on one device and finish on another, along with Instant Hotspot and the ability to make and receive calls and send SMS and MMS messages from your Mac or iPad.
While the iOS 8 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members, iOS 8 will be available this Spring (US) as a free 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.