Prepare for new features on your iPhone and iPad. This week, Apple announced iOS 8, which promises to change the way you use your devices.
Here’s a preview of some of the features you can look forward to:
Downloading apps, music, movies and books is about to become a lot cheaper for families with iOS devices. Apple’s newly announced family sharing feature allows up to six people to share purchases by merging iTunes accounts, as long as they are linked to the same credit card. It’s not certain which apps will work with the feature, as the fine print on Apple’s website says not all apps will qualify.
For those families with youngsters, Apple is now giving children the okay to purchase content — that is if the parents give approval. When a child attempts to buy an app, a notification message is set to the parent allowing them to allow or deny the request. If the request is granted, the child can continue to download the content, even if the parent isn’t with them at the time.
If you have trouble remembering what days soccer practise, gymnastics or band rehearsal land on, there’s family calendar. Events pop up on multiple devices at the same time, ensuring everyone is working off the same schedule.
Families who like to share photos and videos, will soon be able to set up a family photo stream. Not only can photos and videos be combined in a single stream to be shared across numerous devices, you can also leave comments, creating a fun way to share memories.
The final aspect of family sharing may be controversial for teens, but will be loved by parents. If the family sharing option is turned on within the phone, you can see where family members are in real time on a map. It’s a great way to keep tabs on kids, that is until they realize they can hide their location with a single tap of the screen.
Those of you who have used a BlackBerry or Android smartphone in the past will be familiar with predictive text. Your smartphone will predict words you are about to type, saving you time. Well, the feature, now being called Quicktype, is finally coming to the iPhone.
iOS 8 will monitor your vocabulary and phrases, to help come up with predictions. If you’re typing in Messages, it will use more casual vocabulary, while Mail will offer more sophisticated words.
Apple is also allowing developers to introduce their own custom keyboards within apps, a first within the iOS environment.
Apple is making health a major push to have health a huge part of iOS 8. While there are many health apps on the market, the problem is each one stores the information it collects about you within the individual apps. Apple’s newly announced health app syncs all health data from all apps and keeps it in a centralized location.
Those who suffer from life threatening health conditions or allergies will be able create an emergency card, than can be accessed from the unlock screen. Think of it as a medical alert bracelet built right into your iOS device.
The real interesting part about the health app is seeing where developers take this feature. Apple mentioned the Mayo Clinic was working on an app which could monitor your health and automatically signal your doctor if your readings change abruptly. Apple didn’t go into much detail about this but suggested apps like this are more than possible if the right developer gets involved.
Apple has been working hard to make Mac computers and iOS devices work better together through what the company refers to as Continuity. There are a number of different aspects to this.
Notice you haven’t been able to transfer files from a Mac to an iOS device and vice versa via AirDrop? Expect that to change this fall. Once you update your Mac to OS X Yosemite and your iPhone to iOS 8, AirDrop will work seamlessly between the two devices.
Not only will AirDrop work between the two operating systems, so will SMS messages and phone calls. Text messages now will appear on your Mac as long as your phone and Mac are on the same WiFi network. You also will be able to answer calls and make calls from your Mac, providing your phone is nearby.
Handoff is another great feature which really shows how fluid Apple is trying to make the two operating systems. If you’re surfing the web or writing an email on your Mac and want to continue on your iPad, a simple press of an icon will transfer what your doing to your iOS device so you can continue to work. A demo at WWDC this week showed it take only a couple of seconds for one device to handoff the work to another. It’s an impressive feature.
Snap a photo on one iOS device and have it populate itself on another. Every photo will now live within iCloud giving you access to them anytime, anywhere. All photos and videos remain in their original formats and resolutions. Even RAW files are stored as they were shot.
On top of this, Apple is doing away with the need for third party editing software. The built-in Photos application will soon come with a full basic tool set, including cropping, tilt, contrast, exposure and brightness. Yes, there will also be filters.
Expect to also see a couple of new shooting modes. Apple is including a timer and time-lapse feature fr the camera. Select the intervals and the length of time you want the camera to shoot for and your iPhone does the rest,
Apple didn’t spend a lot of time talking about Siri during the keynote, however we will see some enhancements this fall.
iOS 8 will bring with it Shazam capability for Siri. Hear a song you like, simply ask Siri what song is playing and she will Shazam it for you. If you really like the song you can ask her to download it from iTunes. It also looks like Siri will be able to search for apps and movies to purchase within the App Store and iTunes.
Last but not least you will be able to access Siri with a simple voce command. Siri will aways be listening to you in iOS 8 as long as you have your phone plugged in. All you have to do is say “Hey Siri” to wake up your iPhone and have her do things for you. This could be beneficial in your vehicle, as long as you have it charging.
iOS 8 certainly adds a lot of productivity to your iPhone, but I’ve only scratched the surface. There are many more features, too many to be listed here. iOS 8 will be available free of charge in the fall.