The long wait is over. Apple announced iOS 8 features at the keynote today. There are probably not very many changes in the UI but the overall feature set has been overhauled in certain specific areas of the mobile operating system. Like iOS 6 (which was an enhancement to iOS 5 in many ways), iOS 8 is an enhancement to iOS 7 in a variety of ways.
Here’s a compilation of iOS 8 features that were touched upon at WWDC 2014 by Apple. Note that there are much more features in store (that we’ll keep discovering as we use the beta software).
Also read: iOS 8 Device Compatibility List
iOS 8 Features
#1. Notifications (Interactive) and Widgets
In iOS 8, when there’s a banner notification (or a lock screen notification), you can interact and respond to it right away. This is a feature directly copied/lifted from the world of jailbreak. When there’s a banner notification of a message, you just swipe down to reveal a reply-text-bar. Tap your reply and tap send and you’re done. No need to go into the app. Ditto for lockscreen notifications where you can swipe to accept/deny, for instance, a calendar event notification.
The other big change in the realm of Notifications is widgets in the Notification Center. You can now add specific widgets to the notification center (they demoed an eBay widget where you can directly bid from the notification center with a tap of a button).
Don’t Forget to Read: The iOS 8 Features They Didn’t Talk About
#2. Multitasking/Recent Contacts
The multitasking switcher now has your “recent” contacts listed on top. Again, this is a feature I distinctly remember being featured in one of those jailbreak tweaks. It’s a small addition to the multitasking switcher but a useful one.
#3. Mail Gestures (and Multitasking)
Mail now involves gestured-based actions: swipe right on a mail to mark it as unread or swipe left all the way to delete it. Also, swiping left provides you with flagging and extra options.
Another feature in the Mail app is the ability to stop midway in composing a new email and proceed to check mail or access other emails. Then, you can continue composing the new email from where you left it. Not exactly multitasking but kind of close.
Also Read: Learn Everything About iOS 8 Features
The Spotlight in iOS 8 gets a few additional responsibilities that it seems to handle pretty well. The spotlight search can now look for results from across a wider variety of resources including the App Store, the iTunes Store, News, Maps, Movies etc.
Continuity is the same feature that features on Mac. With this iOS 8 feature, you can continue your work from where you left off, on any device. If you were working on a Pages document on Mac and left midway, you can continue editing that document from your iPad. It’s like a single system reads all your connected iDevices and knows what is going on and on what device.
Continuity is accessed by a lockscreen icon on the bottom left of the lockscreen (just like the camera icon which is on the right).
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#6. QuickType (Word Prediction)
QuickType is word prediction as you type a sentence. The predicted words appear on top of the keypad and the first thing you’ll notice is that this is the same feature that is available on all Android keypads (and on many feature phones too).
But Apple seems to have refined this to a new level. QuickType works contextually so it is smarter: it detects your message/email patterns to people you message/mail and predicts words accordingly. If it’s a professional conversation, it predicts a different kind of a word than if it’s an informal conversation.
#7. Calls Across iOS
This feature is really a part of the calls on Mac feature in OS X Yosemite. You get a call on your iPhone, you can pick it up from your iPad. And you can also make calls through the same interface. The only requirement appears to be that the devices should be connected to the same network.
#8. Group Message Features
Finally, an annoyingly missing feature gets fixed. In Group Messages, you can not only add or remove people but you can Mute (Do Not Disturb) the conversation or Leave the group. A lot of headaches will now be gone forever. Users of iOS 7 who used to complain about this missing feature can rejoice … in fall.
#9. Tap to Talk, Message Media and Raise to Talk
Messages has been overhauled in some ways. For instance, you can now view all media shared in a conversation in one place which makes picking out images easier.
But what interests us is the tap-to-talk. You can send audio messages now (just like how Whatsapp does). Even more interestingly, on the lockscreen, when you get an audio message, you can just put your iPhone to the ear to hear the message (no tapping required). Once you’ve heard the message, just raise the iPhone to your ear, talk and move it away to reply.
#10. HealthKit and Health app
The much rumored “ ” app is actually called just “Health.” The app works on a layer of what is called the HealthKit which basically integrates a lot of fitness and health-related third-party devices. So much for iWatch (but hey, we all knew iWatch wasn’t coming now). The Health app combines data from across various fitness accessories. And it can also connect to your doctor/healthcare provider and send the information across seamlessly.
Another lately-rumored feature was the smart home system. As was rumored, Apple has built a home-system-integration in iOS 8 where apps from third-party can interface with your iPhone or iPad.
HomeKit seems to be fancy and useful. According to Craig, you say “time to sleep” to Siri (which connects to HomeKit) and your home systems are automatically signalled to do the needful: close the garage door, lock the door, turn out the lights etc.
#12. Family Sharing
Another big feature that is definitely a beneficial one for a family of iPhone/iPad users is Family Sharing. Not only can you now share all of your photos and videos like a hub, you can now access other family members’ content (movies, music, tv shows etc.) from your device. If your spouse has bought some movie on his iPad, you can access and download that purchased content from your iPhone.
Family Sharing works for up to six members. That means, you buy a TV show once and share it with five people seamlessly without having to resort to iTunes on PC/Mac.
Also, Family Sharing works as a security layer for app purchases: when a kid-member tries to purchase an app, iOS 8 will pop up a dialog letting the kid “ask” for permission. You will get a message regarding it.
#13. New Photo Editing Controls
There are some cool new photo editing controls like a smart lighting/exposure control.
#14. App Bundles
This one is actually for developers but it’s a consumer-facing feature too so here goes: users can now download app bundles from the app store. If a developer bundles four apps, you can tap once and download all four apps.
More iOS 8 features on the way as we discover them in the betas.