Apple officially announced iOS 8 (features, download beta, release date)

iOS 8 - coming this fall
Photo Credit: Apple

Apple has announced iOS 8, the newest version of mobile operating system for iPad, iPhone and iPod. Unveiled during Worldwide Developers Conference 2014 in San Francisco, CEO Tim Cook described iOS 8 as “a huge release” for end users as well as additional capabilities for developers.

Watch: Full video of Apple’s WWDC 2014 keynote address

One of the highlights of iOS 8 is the interactive notifications center that allows users to reply messages directly from the notification even on the lock screen.

Apple has also announced several new features for Siri as part of the iOS 8, including an ‘Always-on’ functionality and you can access to her without having to touch your phone just by saying the words “Hey, Siri.”

Siri, the upgraded assistant, has built in Shazam song recognition as well as streaming voice recognition, allowing users to quickly make iTunes or App Store purchases.

Widgets have been a big part of Android in mobile, and Apple is finally adding support for widgets to iOS 8. Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, revealed that devs can now start building widgets within the Notification Center on iOS 8.

Apple has added a new predictive typing feature to the virtual keyboard in iOS 8 dubbed “QuickType.” The Quicktype keyboard feature will guess the next words users want to type, based on what they’re currently writing and offer some word predictions.

Apple’s messaging has also received an overhaul as announced at the conference. Users can now leave voice and video messages in iMessage chats with the ‘Tap to Talk’ feature. Users can also name group messages, add or remove people from conversations, mute the thread with ‘Do Not Disturb’ or leave the conversation themselves.

iOS 8 messaging has the ability to quickly send photos, video and audio messages to put Apple’s messaging app in direct competition with third-party apps like WhatsApp and SnapChat. Messages can be set to self-destruct, like on Snapchat, that allow users to make multimedia messages expire after several minutes.

Apple introduced a new health-tracking app in iOS name Healthkit, a centralized location for collecting fitness and medical data from external third-party apps and can be accessed by healthcare professionals.

Apple’s smart home solution Homekit was unveiled too, allowing users to use iPhone or iPad to control devices around the house using the pre-installed iOS 8 app. Users will also be able to group their devices together to manage more than one at once, so that a single command can control them all.

Other new features in iOS 8 include updates to Mail for easier management of messages, quick access to your most frequently used contact by double-tapping the home button, and support for iCloud Drive.

With iCloud Drive, files and documents can access between apps. Documents of any type can be safely stored, accessed and edited across Apple’s devices.

A new “Family Sharing” feature added to iOS 8. Families of up to six members can automatically share photos, calendars, reminders, location, and purchased apps. Family sharing also permits kids to ask parents if they can purchase a new app.

Apple unveiled a powerful new developer tool “Metal,” a technology designed to increase the efficiency of iOS gaming. With Metal, Apple hopes to replace the industry-standard 3D-graphics API called OpenGL.

Apple announced that iOS 8 will enable third-party apps to use Touch ID for authentication purposes. Fingerprint data will be kept separate, but authentication will automatically unlock passwords stored in keychain to grant user access to apps.

As for a release date, iOS 8 will be available to the public sometime in September onwards. It will be compatible with the following devices:

  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPad 2
  • iPad with Retina Display
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Mini
  • iPad Mini with Retina Display
  • iPod Touch 5th-gen

Apple made a beta version of iOS 8 available for developers to download and install immediately. The iOS 8 beta is available in Apple’s iOS developer portal: https://developer.apple.com/devcenter/ios/index.action.

The following is a full list of the features compiled by 9to5mac.com, to expect on iOS 8.

Accessibility:

  • Improved zoom for accessibility
  • TouchID to exit Guided Access
  • Braille Keyboard for direct 6 dot braille input
  • Alex voice for accessibility
  • Time limits and countdown timer for guided access
  • Multi-device support for MFi hearing aids

Apps:

  • iBooks built into iOS
  • See books as series in iBooks
  • Auto night mode in iBooks
  • Travel time notifications
  • Panorama on iPad
  • Camera Timer
  • Lunar calendar support
  • Rich Text Editing In Notes
  • Battery usage by app
  • DuckDuckGo support in Safari
  • Place cards in other apps
  • In Case of Emergency Card
  • RSS feeds in Shared Links
  • Instant burst mode

Maps:

  • Flyover city tours
  • Vector maps in China
  • Navigation for china

Voice/Siri:

  • WiFi calling
  • Speak Screen
  • Purchase iTunes content with Siri
  • Shazam with Siri
  • FaceTime Call Waiting

Language:

  • 24 new dictation languages
  • Indian, Tagalog, Irish Gaelic, and Slovenian keyboards
  • New definition dictionaries for Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Thai, and Turkish Hindi localization

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