iOS 8 is more than just a worthy upgrade

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| June 2, 2014

So here we are, another year down and another Worldwide Developers Conference main stage announcement wrapped up. As usual, Apple unveiled plenty of new things to share with the end user, and with just enough there to get developers excited about what's to come with the next major releases for Apple's software. Both iOS and Mac OS X got plenty of attention, but as you can imagine, and as I talked about a little this morning, the majority of changes went to Apple's Mac OS X.

Mac OS X now looks like iOS in a lot of different ways, as both platforms bridge the gap between one another. We've all known this was going to happen, so it's good to finally see the result of that wait. For those of you out there who use a Mac, this next version of OS X, Yosemite, is a great upgrade. Especially for free. The trouble is waiting until this Fall to finally get to use it (unless you get into that public Beta program, of course).

The same goes for iOS, of course. The only part that might make waiting easier for anyone looking forward to trying out iOS 8, is that later this year when the software launches it'll be coming along with a nice new handset, too.

Never mind. That probably makes it harder.

In any event, I think it's safe to say that the Rumor Mill was about as accurate this year with the new additions to Apple's mobile operating system as it is every year. As much as we heard about Healthbook, and saw it in so many different ways, turns out it's not called that at all. Nor does it really look like Passbook for Health. However, it should be noted that there *is*, at least, a Health-specific app that Apple's built to consolidate all of your health-related apps and information. HealthKit, too, just to make sure all the bases are covered. So, not exactly what we were expecting, but for anyone who was looking forward to that particular app/feature, at least it's there in some capacity, right?

We're missing apps like Text Edit, something that was "confirmed" about as much as any rumor can be confirmed, especially when we're dealing with an Apple product. Preview, an application that's been on Macs for quite some time, was also rumored to be making a jump to iOS, but as it stands right now that doesn't seem to be the case. You'll just have to continue to live your life without that on iOS. For a little bit longer, anyway.

So, we're missing out on some things that we thought we'd see. That really shouldn't matter, though, because the things that Apple did announce should make up for all of that, and then some. New features that bridge the gap between your Mac OS X machine and your iOS-based device are pretty great. The ability to not only make a phone call from your computer, thanks to your phone, but also answer them as they come in? If you hate talking on the phone as much as I do, just being able to ignore a call right from the computer instead of having to walk across a room to silence a ringer is pretty great.

Apple must have read my mind about smart keyboards, too (don't take this away from me), because they've introduced changes to QuickType, and they should make those of us out there that type away on digital keyboards more often than we probably should plenty happy. The new iOS 8-based keyboard will learn how you talk to people, on a regular basis, so that the new predictive text options can offer you words specifically tuned to who you're talking to. Use a different lingo when talking with co-workers or your boss, or with friends and your significant other? The iOS 8 keyboard will learn those nuances, and help you type faster because of it.

And now you can use third-party keyboards? What is happening!

The Notification Center has been cleaned up a bit (even if I can't cusotmize Control Center, still), and there will be some changes to the aesthetics as well. But, more than that, we now get interactive features, like notifications themselves. Now, when a notification for a text message (or other apps, even third-party ones) pops up on the top of your display, you can slide it down a bit and reply right there, from whatever app you're running. No need to jump into Messages anymore. You can even interact with notifications on the lock screen now, which is so overdue it almost hurts.

One of my favorite additions is Family Sharing, for one simple thing: notifications for when someone tries to make a purchase with the stored credit card, whether it's an app or an in-app purchase. If my daughters are on the iPad mini and try to buy something, I'll get a notification on my iPhone that lets me know, and I can actually confirm the purchase or deny it outright. You know, whether I'm feeling tyrannical or not.

No, we didn't see a lot of the things we had rumored about, but I'm not really dismayed by that fact. What Apple unveiled is definitely better than good. Now, as far as I'm concerned, they just have to follow-up later this year with the next iPhone, and there's a chance that the Cupertino-based company has another smash hit on their hands.

What did you think of the new features/apps/aesthetics for iOS 8? Are you looking forward to getting your hands on it later this year? Or is this another version of Apple's mobile OS that you're looking forward to skipping altogether? Let me know!