While yesterday we were all wowed with Apple’s next generation operating system, OSX Leopard, today we got our first look at the Cupertino company’s new mobile operating system, iOS 8. Released in a beta SDK for developers, the public was treated to a first look at the bevy of new features soon to appear on our phones and tablets.
While we haven’t had the opportunity as of yet to fully interact with the new iOS 8, we can take a close look at some of the most important changes that have been announced.
New Messaging Options
While Apple launched its iMessage IM client over three years ago, the application has yet to see the success of some of its rivals such as WeChat and WhatsApp. With iOS 8 Apple is hoping to change all this with ‘new’ features that have been popularised by the aforementioned apps. These include integrated picture messaging as well as audio ‘walkie-talkie’ messaging. In addition, messages sent in this manner will auto-delete by default, in a rather similar way to Snapchat.
Third Party Typing Apps
Prior to iOS 8, should you have wanted an improved or customized typing experience, then the iPhone was not the platform for you. Now with iOS 8, users can download and use popular third party keyboards which implement so-called shape-typing similar to Swype. In addition to this, the new Quicktype software will feature an intelligent auto-correct, which can learn with which contacts you require formal language, and which you use informal and slang words.
With the voice assistant competition heating up with the launch of Cortana by Microsoft, Apple is hoping to further improve its Siri assistant to stay in the fight. While none of these changes are revolutionary, Siri now has the ability to identify music, as well as answer questions in 22 more languages.
With the success of the FitBit, and then the suspiciously abrupt cancellation of the Nike FuelBand, it is become more and more obvious that Apple is creating a fitness-centered wearable device. With this is mind, HealthKit appears to be the application which will manage the data and metrics collected by the so-called iWatch. The HealthKit app itself provides a visual interface that cleanly shows health data in graph and numeric forms. Currently, Apple is intending to source this health data from 3rd parties, however this will all change later in the year, with the expected iWatch announcement.
The future is all about the cloud - at least according to Microsoft’s new leadership team. In iOS 8 Apple seems to have taken some of this advice, integrating its photo/camera app with the iCloud platform. All photos taken on an iOS device will now be automatically uploaded to iCloud, and can then be edited, reviewed, or deleted at a later date, on any iCloud-connected device.
While Google’s services struggle in China, due to the fact that they made an enemy of the Chinese government, Apple is looking to court this market with iOS 8. The new operating system comes pre-installed with a number of new features aimed to woo Chinese users. These include improved maps and navigation for Chinese cities, as well as an integrated Chinese lunar calendar. Furthermore, the company has secured itself a distribution contract with China Mobile, the world’s largest telecommunications provider.
Looking all these additions, it would seem clear to all but the most devoted of fanboys that Apple is running out of ideas. While the updated operating system does add a large amount of updated functionality, this is in large part functionality which has already existed on its competitors’ platforms, often for years, as in the case with the improved keyboards. Maybe Apple is set to wow us with new hardware in the coming months, however for now we are distinctly unimpressed with what they are offering.
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