iOS 8 announced by Apple at WWDC – but what’s actually different?

iOS 8 has been announced but what is actually going to be any different? Is it a complete rework like iOS 7 was or is it just a bit of an update with a new iOS name purely so that we want to invest in new Apple products like the iPhone 6 that we’re hoping for? During the World Wide Developers Conference Apple announced iOS 8 and went through some of the changes made to the operating system, these changes are not as dramatic as when we went from the versions of iOS6 to iOS7 but none the less there system should offer some significant improvements.

The most obvious update is to the accessibly of the notification centre – you can now access and reply directly to notifications from anywhere, including the lock screen. Accessibly to the functions and abilities of the iOS system are the main focus of this iOS update, most functions seem to have been made more streamlined and better integrated. This is not just for the notification centre but for all aspects of the system including 3rd-party applications which can now have widgets within the notification centre just like the pre-installed existing apps.

Another nice new feature is that double tapping the home button not only gives you the ability to flick through the apps that you have running in the background and already open but will also allow you have quick access to the people you contact the most. Let’s hope this is integrated within other 3rd-party apps like Facebook as this would make for a fast and usable system and a very welcome integration.

The new Spotlight function searches more sources to let you find particular messages, news, songs that you want to listen to and so on. To aid with searching and writing text messages Apple have introduced QuickType alongside this. QuickType shows predictive answers (a bit like Google does in its search engine), just by showing the next possible words you may write – of course, it learns with use so in time could make for a great speed texting function (which a lot of other devices already have).

Other improvements to the text message function include the ability to name message threads and to remove people from group conversations, in addition to this you can also share your location for a limited time which could make it easier to arrange group meetings if little else. The ability to remove people from group conversations is great new and I am surprised that this has not been introduced at an earlier date as group messages are so annoying when you they conversation no longer applies to you!!

Feeling too lazy to type but not sociable enough to call? Great news for you! You can now send each other audio messages – I see this as more of a gimmick but none the less it’s a new feature and could prove useful for recording and distributing lecture notes if nothing else.

Another big introduction is the use of a health and fitness specific space with HealthKit. The software monitors and tracks your activities and can work with other apps like Nike+. This software also allows you to share your progress (or regress as the case may be). Speaking of sharing, iOS 8 now allow easy sharing of pretty much anything with Family Sharing. Obviously this is not just for family but for friends too and allows you to easily share photos, calendar dates reminders and so on. Using GPS you can also locate each other’s devices if this is feature is enabled – This could prove very useful for parents who’s kid lose their phones all of time!

As it will be easier to share photos you would be right to expect some improvements to the photo software so that the images are more-worth sharing. You can now change the composition of photos in app and touch them up so you look more like you imagine you do! You can then update the shared cloud space so that all viewer see the new improved photo.

Siri has had a revamp too and can now recognise songs thanks to the integration of Shazam, This will also allow the purchasing of songs through Siri amongst other smaller changes. Other than this Siri remains your faithful friend with a silly name.

Apple seem to have tried to welcome further development from 3rd-party developers by making the finger print scanner (sorry, TouchID) available for authentication through 3rd-party apps. For peace of mind Apple have said that finger print data will not be shared with developers.

That’s about it really from a consumer perspective, all welcome editions but nothing completely mind blowing. Let’s hope they iron out iMessage issue sooner than the release date for iOS 8 which will be before the year is out – autumn sometime.