NEW YORK – Apple’s iOS 8 operating software for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch launches today (17 September), with a focus on offering a more streamlined user experience between different Apple devices.
Anyone with an iPhone (provided you have the iPhone 4s or later) or an iPad (version 2 and beyond) can download the software for free, upgrading from the previous version – iOS 7. If you are in the market for one of the company’s new smartphones – the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus – the new operating system will come preloaded.
If you are wondering whether you should download iOS 8, here is a roundup of
1. Group messaging is now more like WhatsApp
iOS 8 gives group messaging the WhatsApp treatment, allowing you to give threads a name and add or remove people part-way through the conversation. Individuals can manage particularly lively threads using a “do not disturb” feature that means you don’t get endless notifications when you are busy. You can also send audio and video messages, all of which self-destruct a la Snapchat , unless you choose otherwise.
2. There’s a new health app
iOS 8 comes bundled with a new app called Health. This is designed to let you take control of your personal health and fitness data in a central hub. It can pull in stats from third-party fitness apps so you can monitor your activity, calorie intake, sleep and vitals in one place.
3. There’s a nifty new keyboard
iOS 8 introduces a new keyboard called QuickType that tries to predict what words you are trying to type depending on the context. It learns how you write to different friends and colleagues and provides different language suggestions for different contacts. So if your mum asks you how your evening was, it might suggest “very pleasant”, but if a friend asks, it might suggest “absolute blinder”. It can do this in lots of different languages for the more internationally-inclined of you.
4. Photo editing is much, much better
The standard Apple Photos app has been updated to allow you to have better control of light, colour, alignment and cropping. That means that you can quickly turn your dodgy snaps into works of art. The app has also been tied into iCloud through the iCloud Photo Library. This means that any photo you take and edit on one device will be immediately available to view on all of your other devices, even if they are no longer stored locally.
5. You can share songs, apps and films with your family
Up to six people can join a shared family stream to automatically share photos, calendars and reminders. You can also share media – songs from iTunes, movies, apps and books – as long as they were bought with the same credit card. Children in the family will have to ask their parents’ permission if they want to buy apps or media with the shared credit card.