Today Apple kicked off the 2014 edition of its Worldwide Developers Conference, and just as expected, the Cupertino firm gave us our first glimpse of iOS 8.
Apple exec Craig Federighi today took to the WWDC stage to show off iOS 8. Federighi says that the next major version of iOS includes new features for both end users and developers.
The first addition to iOS 8 shown off was the Notification Center. In iOS 8, Notification Center is gaining interactive features that will allow users to act on alerts without actually jumping into that app. For example, users can reply to a text message directly from the notification rather than jumping into the dedicated Messages app.
Another major update coming in iOS 8 is for Spotlight. After pulling down from the top of the iOS 8 display, users can search in Spolight and get results from the App Store, Wikipedia, Maps, iTunes and even nearby movie theaters.
Moving on to the keyboard, Apple has added a new QuickType feature to its virtual QWERTY. As its name suggests, QuickType helps users to type out messages more quickly by offering suggestions for the next word that iOS thinks that the user wants to type. Apple says that QuickType is context-sensitive, meaning that it can identify what you’re talking about and offer appropriate suggestions.
Speaking of messages, Apple is also tweaking the Messages app in iOS 8. Some of the new group messaging features include the ability to add and remove participants, leave a group chat and share your location. Users can also send voice and video notes inside of the Messages app.
Apple is working to make accessing your content on other devices easier as well. It’s doing this with Continuity, which will allow users to move from one iOS device to another and pick up where they left off on a document, send and receive calls and SMS messages on an iPad and also easily set up a hotspot. Apple is also expanding iCloud to feature iCloud Drive, allowing users to access their documents from various apps on different devices.
As rumored, Apple introduced a Health app and HealthKit support. Health can gather data from various apps of a user’s choosing to display information related to blood pressure, weight, calories burned and calories taken in.
Another major feature coming with iOS 8 is Family Sharing. With Family Sharing, parents can find their kids’ devices. The app isn’t useful just for parents, though, as Family Sharing also allows users to share purchased content with up to 6 family members that are registered with the same credit card.
The Photos app is gaining a few new tricks with iOS 8. Users can store all of their Photos images in iCloud and use a search functionality to find photos by location, date taken and more. And on the topic of iCloud, Apple said that it’s got some refreshed iCloud pricing planned. Users will get 5GB of storage for free and can move up to 20GB for $0.99 per month and 200GB for $3.99 per month. Storage tiers up to 1TB will be available.
Rounding out its user-centric feature announcements, Apple said that it’s got some new goodies for Siri in iOS 8. Users will be able to call up Siri using the phrase “Hey, Siri,” and the assistant will also have streaming voice recognition to show you what you’re saying as you speak it. Additionally, Siri is gaining built-in support for Shazam song recognition and the ability to purchase iTunes content.
After running through the new end user features, Apple announced some developer-focused additions to iOS 8. Those include:
- App Store: Trending searches, scrolling search results, related searches, Editors’ Choice badges, support for app bundles (purchase multiple apps at once), app previews (trailers for apps in the App Store) and TestFlight (developers can invite users to beta test apps for free)
- Notification Center: Interactive widgets in Notification Center, like allowing users to bid on eBay items
- Safari extensions: Bing Translate, share to Pinterest and more
- System-wide third-party keyboards: Exactly what it sounds like. Keyboards can ask for permission to network access.
- Touch ID: Third-party apps can use Touch ID for verification
- Camera APIs: Apps can now control exposure, flash and more
- HomeKit: Control locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs and switches. Users can control individual appliances or groups. Siri integration allows users to say something like “Siri, get ready for bed” to control multiple appliances at once.
So when can you get it? Apple says that iOS 8 will be made available to registered developers starting today, June 2. A public launch is scheduled for this fall. iOS 8 will be compatible with the following devices:
- iPhone 4s
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5c
- iPhone 5s
- iPod touch 5th generation
- iPad 2
- iPad with Retina display
- iPad Air
- iPad mini
- iPad mini with Retina display