Today Apple introduced iOS 8 at WWDC 2014 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. While most of the big stuff was on the developer end, the iOS 8 client gained a bunch of new features as well. The complete visual overhaul that started last year was continued into a feature overhaul in iOS 8. They’ve managed to turn an OS that seemed very mature into something very exciting again. Let’s take a look.
iOS 8 Design and Notifications
Visually, iOS 8 looks a lot like iOS 7, just more refined and comfortable with the new design language. Instead, they packed in new features, many of which are shared partly with OS X 10.10 Yosemite. First up is the notification banners. They used to launch you into the app which gave you the notification. That’s not the case anymore. Notifications have limited application functionality. You can respond to a message, delete an unwanted email, or accept a Calendar invitation. This should help you be a bit more productive. Before you ask, yes it fully compatible with third party apps.
The iOS Multitasking screen now gives you access not only to open apps, but your most recent contacts. No more searching in your contacts list. From there you can choose how to contact them. iOS 7 also features the updated Notification Center also debuted in OS X. You can add widgets to your Notification Center. The Keyboard has been updated with predictive typing on the new Quick Type Keyboard. If you don’t like it, you’re not stuck anymore. You’ll find more about that later. Spotlight now works across multiple platforms and services like the web, Wikipedia, the app store, movie showtimes, and more.
Mail is now easier to use and more powerful. It’ll recognize information like dates, flights, contact numbers and allow you to easily add them to the appropriate application. Copy and pasting between difference messages is now simple. Last is the swiping actions. While other third party applications have had similar functions, showing up in the first party client is very welcome. Swipe right to mark an email as read. Swipe left and you have options to flag, trash, and more.
To keep the interface clean yet functional, there is now a sidebar where your bookmarks, reading lists, and shared links (such as RSS) reside. The new interface is designed to give a common experience where you’re on an iPhone, iPad, or even the Mac. It also gives you more screen real estate. There is a new tab view which will show you all the Safari tabs you have open on every Mac and iOS device your Apple ID is connected to.
Photos and Camera are powerful and easier to use. With iCloud and an upcoming Mac app, you’ll have a single photo library that is pan-device. Not only do you have more access, you have more control. Photos will help you straighten and perfectly crop your photos. If you want to play with the colors, there is the new Smart Adjustments. Adjust your colors and light and the app does all the related adjustments for you allowing you to do high level color edits easily. You can also make manual adjustments if you want. You also have access now to third party editing tools. The Camera app itself has added a new time-lapse mode.
Messages for iOS has gotten a huge update. Added to the mix are voice messages. You can send them easily from within the chat and simply lift your iPhone up to your ear to listen to them. Same story for video messages. Group messages, like those found in BBM or GroupMe are much easier. You can control participation in a group message and even set it to permanently or temporarily show where the rest of the group is on GPS. Attachments are easy to see and even easier to upload. You can upload more than one at a time now.
App Store & Family Sharing
The App Store is more powerful and easier to use. There is an explorer tab, top trending searches, scrolling through search results, and related searches. Top apps now have an Editor’s Choice Icon. If there is related software, developers can now sell bundles. There are also now app previews to give an idea of the app before you buy.
Related is family sharing. Up to six family members can now share media and even apps. That’s right, you no longer to have have a master iTunes account that everyone shares. You can share a single payment for purchases, a family calendar for activities, and instantly share photos. For parents, you can approve purchases by your child via a pop-up notification. It’s also easy to set up Find My Friends so you know were the youngins are.
Continuity is a feature that connects your Macs, iPhones, and iPads. You can answer phone calls or reply to text messages on your iPad or Mac and pickup working with applications where you left off on another device with first and third party apps. There is now a no setup hotspot feature between your iPhone and your other devices. One device can now do what every other device can. If your jaw just hit the floor, I can understand.
The Best iOS Yet
If this keynote bored you, you were either looking for hardware at a developer keynote or weren’t paying attention. iOS 8 packed in so many features that its impossible to list them all. If you’re an Apple user, this was the most exciting keynote since Mac OS X was announced almost 15 years ago. For iOS 8, it’ll only getting better as we tell you what’s new on the services side.