APPLE UNVEILED iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on Monday, its next-generation mobile software which held a few surprises.
Apples iOS 8 software isn’t a radical overhaul like iOS 7, and instead builds on last year’s release with a number of tweaks and additions. However, the firm had plenty of surprises in store with iOS 8, including OS X Continuity, third-party keyboard support and the ability to add widgets to Notification Center.
Of course, not all of it was a surprise, and one of the biggest talking points was Healthkit, which sees Apple looking to challenge the Galaxy S5. Apple’s Healthbook is similar to its rivals offering, enabling users to count calories, steps and exercise, but unlike Samsung's offering however, Healthkit integrates with third-party apps such as Nike+. We have a sneaking suspicion that we haven't heard the full story yet however, as Apple's rumoured iWatch device likely will bring more functionality to Healthbook, when - and if - it launches later this year.
Apple's smart home solution Homekit was unveiled too, allowing users to connect supported devices using the pre-installed iOS 8 app, and to manage more than one at once.
It was perhaps the surprises that were most interesting, though. OS X Continuity sees Apple further bridging the gap between iOS and Mac OS X - in particular its new version Yosemite - allowing users to Airdrop files between the two, and to even answer phone calls on their Mac. iCloud Drive was also unveiled, a feature which allows for easier file sharing between iOS and Mac devices. Handoff takes advantage of this - a feature that allows you to start writing an email on your iPhone, to then pick it up on your Macbook device.
Widgets were also part of Apple's announcement, with iOS 8 including the ability for users to bake widgets from the likes of eBay and Pinterest into Notification Center. iPhone and iPad users will be able to reply to messages straight from the Notifications bar too, and can easily embed voice memos and videos which will "self destruct" unless specified otherwise, which sees Apple looking to challenge Snapchat.
Apple also surprised today with the unveiling of QuickType, a new intelligent word prediction feature which could signal the end of Autocorrect. If you're not a fan of Quicktype, the firm also announced today that iOS 8 will be the first iteration of the operating system to support third-party keyboards.
Family sharing was also announced, a feature that will allow up to six family members who use the same credit card to share purchases of music, movies and TV shows. Apple notes that parents will get a notification before their kid downloads a film they perhaps shouldn't.
Enterprise talk made a brief appearance during today's WWDC keynote, with Apple noting that "98 percent of the Fortune 500" use iOS devices, and they want that final two percent. In a bid to get it, Apple is adding improved data protection, Calendar notifications, Exchange out of office support and new productivity tools.
Despite speculation that iOS 8 would bring split-screen multitasking to the iPad, Apple did not mention this feature during its WWDC keynote, seemingly confirming rumours that the feature has been delayed.
iOS 8 is available to developers from today, and will be available to the rest of us in the autumn, likely to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 6.
Check back soon for our iOS 8 first impressions. µ