In case you hadn’t noticed, Apple announced iOS 8 during the keynote of their WWDC event this week. As expected, there were plenty of new features for both users and developers to get excited about. Of all the features they announced, here are the five that I am the most excited about.
1. Family Sharing
iOS 8 will let you share photos, calendars, reminders, music, movies, books and apps among up to six members of your household. All purchases can be tied to a single credit card, and you can set approval conditions for shared accounts. I’m sure there will be plenty of fine print associated with the sharing, but just the thought of being able to share purchased content such as music among devices within your household is an exciting and long overdue feature addition.
With iOS 8, your iPhone will get integration with OS X Mac devices. You’ll be able to drag and drop files between devices over Wi-fi, start work on one device, such as an email, and finish it on another, read and respond to text messages on your computer, and answer phone calls with your Mac. Continuity is a killer feature that will encourage iPhone users to consider a Mac for their next computer. Just the idea of being able to read and respond to text messages from your computer is a big deal to me. I’ve been using Google Voice for a couple of years now, and the ease with which you can respond to text messages via the web interface makes it so much better then pecking out words using the on screen keyboard of your phone.
3. Camera and Photo upgrades
The ability to edit and enhance photos on your iPhone is getting significant improvement in functionality and ease of use. As if the iPhone wasn’t already a great point and shoot replacement, it’s going to get even better. In fact, this could be one of the most significant upgrades from a real estate perspective. You may be able to take photos of new listings with your iPhone, edit and enhance them, and then use the Continuity feature to get them to your computer for upload to the MLS.
4. Improved Notifications
New notification features will give you the ability to respond to them from your lock screen or without having to leave the app you’re in. While incremental, it’s a huge improvement over the way the existing notification system works. It’s going to save a lot of time, and a lot of frustration.
5. App to App Communication
OK, this one is a little more developer-centric, but it’s another major upgrade, and could end up being the best of the bunch – by far. Apps will be able to create interfaces that will allow them to talk to each other. It’s going to open up a lot of new possibilities as developers will be able to share data and incorporate services from other apps. For example, it may be possible to post something to Facebook without having to leave the app you’re currently using. While it will take some time for developers to figure out the specifics, I suspect the improvements you see in the user experience are going to be incredible once apps are updated to take advantage of this capability.
Additional features for iOS 8 include a better native Mail tool, improved iMessage interface, Wi-fi calling, Shazam integration, custom keyboard options, Healthkit for tracking personal health information, home control options, improved Spotlight search, and iCloud Drive updates. It’s a pretty significant update, and one that was much needed. It levels the playing field with Android in many areas, and pulls it ahead in others. Now it will be Google’s turn to reveal their Android updates at the Google I/O conference at the end of the month.
For more information, here’s an overview from a couple of my favorite tech sites:
- Engadget: Apple reveals iOS 8 at WWDC, available for free this fall
- Gizmodo: iOS 8: All the New Features For Your iPhone and iPad
- Gigaom: With iOS 8, Apple battles Android on its own turf, allowing its users more choice
And one more thing, the latest developer code discovered by numerous sites on the web is confirming signs of larger iPhone and iPad devices. In screenshots that you can see here at Apple Insider, the latest developer previews for OS X and iOS 8 have the option to code for resizable iPhone and iPad devices. It all but confirms that there will be at least one larger version of the iPhone available when iOS 8 is available later this fall.
And now, the waiting begins!