From a normal user’s point, this time it’s not a revolution: in contrast to iOS 7, the new version 8 is – according to Apple – rather an evolution. For programmers, however, a lot has changed. Several new features have been added, whose impact will be visible only in the future in the form of newly developed APPs. iOS 8 is expected to be available in Autumn 2014.
Design and Improvements
In contrast to the previous version, the design is not changed significantly. It includes improvements in areas that are not necessarily noticed right away, but make the experience of dealing with the Apple devices smoother and more pleasant. The existing functions have been optimized in many places; also with the idea to make their usage easier.
The new Functions
Of course, Apple has once again built new features. These are, for example, the storage of all types of files in the cloud with advanced sharing features, the comprehensive options for editing photos, enhanced messages, the Health app which presents a health data summary, or the family sharing. Let’s have a look at the most important functions.
Messages for friends or other people can now be enriched with voice recording which you can record yourself, or you add self-created videos. With a group conversation, the messages are shared with more than one person, for example with your family. Or with your colleagues, with whom you are working together on a project. There is also the opportunity to share the place where you are located in the moment. This creates a Facebook-like feeling of constant connectedness within a community.
The operation of the keyboard has become smarter. The system takes into account the context and proposes appropriate words to finish the sentence. An automatic recognition of the content is installed, thus, e.g., SMS and e-mails can be distinguished. Previous conversations as well as the individual style are considered, which may differ much depending on the contact person. After all there is a difference if you send an official email to the boss, or an informal SMS to a friend. The call data are safe, as they remain locally on the device. The text recognition works in all major languages.
Keyboards are also available from other suppliers because Apple has opened the code for developers. Thus, many different layouts and features are possible in the future.
The family sharing consists of a group with advanced features for up to six family members. It is possible to share the purchases in iTunes, iBooks and App Store, so they can be used by everyone. For this, only a single credit card is required; parents can give their agreement directly on the device when the kids want to buy something. Of course, photos, calendars, locations and many other things can be shared. Passwords or Apple IDs are not needed.
Through location sharing you always know where the other family members are. This is an interesting feature especially for parents who want to know what the children are doing. But of course, Apple provides a way to hide the location. With location sharing, it is also possible to locate lost devices and to have a sound played on them. So you can find such devices quickly.
The tab view of Safari, which is implemented already on the iPhone, is now available on the iPad. The open pages and tabs are grouped together, and there is a sidebar with bookmarks, reading list and shared links. In addition, the tab view can display the tabs from other Apple devices.
The APPs for the measurement of sports activities as well as other health or fitness APPs communicate with each other. The information is summarized in the Health APP on a dashboard. In this way, there is a permanent overview of the health status. In addition, it can always be controlled what data can be used by which APP.
An emergency passport can be created, which may be accessed from the lock screen.
With the Apple operating systems iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite (for Mac), a new kind of cooperation between the hardware is possible. The requirement is the registration of the devices at an iCloud account. From now on, apps like Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Cards, Messages, Reminders, Calendar or Contacts are used together everywhere. For example, it is possible to view a Web site with the iPad, then close down the device, and continue later at the same spot with the iPhone. For telephone calls, not only the iPhone may be used; instead it is possible to answer a call from an iPad or a Mac when they are in the same Wlan.
iCloud and Photos
Photos and videos are also located in the cloud and are managed via the photo library. Again you can access the data from any system (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or via the Web). With the new or improved APPs photos will be found more quickly than before. Editing may be done with automatic functions that can be used directly after shooting. It is also possible to change the photos manually, if there is some in-depth knowledge. The functions of the filters are further improved, and it is possible to use filters from other providers.
The camera is equipped with a time-lapse mode, the intervals can be set arbitrarily. In this way, accelerated videos of events can be created, that are never seen like this in the real world.
The Spotlight search is significantly expanded. It is no longer limited to the device, but includes now context, location and information from the Internet. The result is that, e.g., current topics, Wikipedia articles, directions for locations or goods in online stores may be proposed as search result. Also, Spotlight works with Safari, so it can show the best results.
Features for Developers
For developers, iOS 8 is – according to Apple – the greatest advance since the introduction of the App Store. There are more than 4,000 new APIs that make it possible to program new functions and new APPs. In addition, some technologies for the development of games have been added. The most interesting features are presented below.
As described, the Health APP permanently shows the status of health and fitness. For developers, Apple has programmed the appropriate Health Kit, which is used to enable an interface to communicate between the individual APPs, to retrieve the stored health data and to provide the data to the Health APP. It is the precondition that the Health APP can function as a centralized overview. In the future, developers will use it to create other APPs as data supplier.
The Home Kit is the basis for controlling house devices with an APP, either via the display or via Siri. Thus, for example, it is possible to regulate the temperature, to turn the light on and off in the absence of the house owner, or to make the microwave prepare the food. Apple will probably not going to offer its own devices in the near future, even though they are working on a project in this direction. But at the moment they want to allow manufacturers to develop their own devices, which are then addressed via the Home Kit protocol.
For controlling, Apple also relies on Siri. If you use iPhone or iPad, and for example say, “I’m going home,” the heating could automatically be turned on, the windows closed and the coffee prepared.
There is a good chance that Apple will succeed to establish the Home Kit as standard.
Swift is a new programming language, where writing code – according to Apple – is interactive and fun, has a short syntax and is yet expressive, and the applications run quickly. In other words, the language is easier and faster as Objective-C (which still may be used), and is seen by Apple as the future of APP programming. In addition, it is more interactive than its predecessor: with the Playground function it is possible to see in real time how a code change affects the APP.
Swift can be used already, but of course the APPs run only after installing iOS 8 (or OS X Yosemite).
The New System
Although we only know the beta versions, we think that it is definitely worth it to carry out an update to the new operating system. The APPs and improvements may not necessarily be needed, but the new features for developers will manifest in APPs after the release of iOS 8. They should not be missed.
iOS 8 is suitable for iPhone from Version 4s, iPad from version 2, iPad mini/Air and iPod Touch (from 5th gen.).
If you are wondering what you need to consider so that your app is ready for iOS 8, please contact us for a consultation interview. We make your app fit for the update, so you can use all the features of the new operating system and will not face any unexpected behavior.
Use this link for more information on iOS 8.