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The Surprisingly Easy Guide to…The iOS 8 Announcement

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Last night, Apple revealed the latest version of iOS at their Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Francisco.

As with every Apple announcement, iOS 8 was unveiled to great excitement and fanfare, although tech journalists can’t seem to decide whether it’s a great leap forward or a small step up from iOS 7.

Either way, you probably want to know how iOS 8 will change things for you. So, here’s our surprisingly easy guide to Apple’s latest OS!

What’s new?

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There isn’t actually a great deal of new features included with iOS 8, but a lot of existing features have been improved (mostly by copying other successful apps and Android features…).

Here’s a quick run-down:

Health

‘Health’ is a brand new app that tracks data from a number of 3rd party apps to compile a fairly accurate picture of your health. This data can then be used by medical professionals.

Family Sharing

This feature allows parents (or very crafty kids) to sync up all the devices in their family so they can share pictures, videos and music. You’ll also be able to control who can purchase from the App Store, putting an end to kids going on app-buying rampages!

Improved notifications

An improved version of the Notifications Center will allow you to reply immediately to messages and like Facebook statuses, even if you’re using another app.

You’ll also be able to view your inbox as you compose a message by swiping down and access your favourite contacts by double-tapping to multitask.

Group Messages in iMessage

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Everyone’s favourite app (according to Apple) will be updated with WhatsApp-style group messages. People can be added and removed from these messages and you’ll also be able to set a ‘do not disturb’ setting for when a group convo is getting a bit annoying.

Apple are also introducing Snapchat-style video and voice messages that can be set to ‘self destruct’ after a set period of time.

QuickType and Auto-Suggestions

The new version of the iPhone keyboard will include auto-suggestions, which suggest words and phrases quickly based on the context of the conversation.

This feature brings up suggestions based on who you’re talking to and what app you’re using (so an email to your boss will have different suggestions to a message to your partner).

In an even cooler move, QuickType will be able to generate answers based on questions asked in messages. This could be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, or an answer based on the choices in the question (i.e. ‘dinner’ or ‘movie’).

Continuity with OS X Yosemite

iOS 8 will be closely tied into OS X Yosemite (the Mac OS), allowing you to compose SMS messages and make phone calls on your Mac or iPad. Handoff will allow you to start working on something on your iPhone and continue working on it on your Mac seamlessly.

Widgets

There’s no need to be jealous of Android users anymore, as widgets are coming to iPhones! The example given at WWDC was bidding on an eBay auction, although you can expect much more.

TouchID on 3rd Party Apps

Apple’s biometric security system has been opened up to 3rd party developers, meaning that banking and shopping apps will be able to make use of it.

A (slightly) better Siri

Everyone’s favourite personal assistant can now be activated by saying ‘Hey Siri’, and also features Shazam integration and the ability to buy songs off iTunes.

iCloud Drive

A better version of the iCloud, allowing you to store presentations, spreadsheets and photos and use them on all of your Apple devices!

When is iOS 8 coming out?

There is no official release date, although it’s been suggested that it’ll come out in September…just before a new iPhone.

What will it cost?

Absolutely nothing. iOS 8 is free to all Apple users.

What devices is it compatible with?

Unfortunately, iOS 8 only works on iPhone 4S and above, and iPad 2 and above. If you’re using a device older than that, now would be a good time to sell your Apple goods!

Image credits: Yukata Tsutano & Thomas Geiregger