Apple has unveiled iOS 8, the latest version of its iPhone and iPad operating system, during its Worldwide Developer Conference this morning.
The new version of the mobile operating system is designed to be interoperable with the new version of Mac OS X revealed at the show, dubbed Yosemite.
The improved interoperability means users will be able to use their Mac as a speakerphone for their iPhone, read and send their iPhone messages from their Mac, or use a feature called Handoff to pass activities from one device to another.
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The fitness market is a key focus for iOS 8 with the a new health tracking app called Health, which uses a new underlying API called Healthkit to gather health tracking data from a range of third-party health tracking apps and devices.
Apple is also adding a new file storage platform to iOS called iCloud Drive, which is similar to competing services such as Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive or DropBox, as well as an API for third-party developers.
The tech giant is also jumping aboard the internet of things / smarthome bandwagon with iOS 8, announcing an API called HomeKit that will allow users to pair compatible smart appliances with iOS devices. As anticipated, the release includes integration with Siri.
Another new feature is the addition of predictive text suggestion to the keyboard, which suggests the next word a user might wish to type. This has long been a feature of the keyboards for Windows Phone, Android and BlackBerry 10, but is new for iOS. Users will also, for the first time, be able to choose to use a third-party keyboard app.
The upgrade adds Google and Bing-style system-wide search capabilities to Spotlight, as well as searches initiated from Safari. A single search will now display suggested websites, Wikipedia articles, iTunes, the app store, news, nearby faces, iBooks and movie showtimes.
For iOS developers, aside from gaining access to 4000 APIs, including touch authentication, the biggest news is the introduction of a new programming language called Swift, which works alongside Objective-C.
iOS 8 also includes the ability for families to share content including iTunes and iBooks, a new photos app with integrated iCloud storage, interactive elements in notifications, and the addition of recent contacts to the multitasking interface.
The new version will be available as a beta release from today, and is compatible with iPhone 4s, 5, 5c and 5s, fifth generation iPod touch, as well as iPad 2, Retina, Air and mini devices.