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Apple has finally taken the wraps off iOS 8 – its next-gen mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch – at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. And we’ve got all the details, including features, compatibility and release date right under one roof.

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Features

-Design

iOS 8 is more clean and polished than its rushed predecessor, iOS 7.

-Interactive Notifications

Up till iOS 7, the only way to interact with notifications is by tapping on the notification itself, which will in turn launch the app and then you can go about your business. But iOS 8 takes things up a notch, by introducing interactive notifications. Simply swiping left or down on the notification will let you reply to a text message, tweet etc. No need to launch the whole app itself.

The interactive notifications extend to the lock screen as well.

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-Frequent Contacts in Multitasking View

Double tapping the Home button will take you to the multitasking view. But wait, there’s more. Instead of getting a glance of the apps that are running in the background, iOS 8 now lets you go through contacts on your iOS device which you frequently interact with.

-Safari Tab View Mode

iOS 8 takes the integration between Apple’s desktop OS a step further. And on iPad, you get the same Tab view mode in Safari, allowing you to quickly accessing your bookmarks, history etc. under one window.

-New Mail Gestures

The Mail app in iOS 8 sees simple tweaks littered throughout the UI. And now, with a simple swipe gesture, you can Trash, Flag and see More details for an email. Previously, this feature was limited to deleting an email and seeing more details regarding it. A small change, but a notable one for those who find themselves a lot using Apple’s mobile Mail app.

-Spotlight

Spotlight on iOS 8 now does a lot more than merely searching your device for messages, contacts, emails etc. You can now search for apps, news, songs, you name it, and Spotlight will find it for you!

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-QuickType keyboard

This is a change which many users have been crying for since the inception of iOS. QuickType now shows you suggestions for words as you’re typing right above the keyboard in a small bar. It also supports predictive suggestions, and will, as you guessed it, guess words as you’re typing a sentence. And over time, it will learn your typing habits and will throw you suggestions based on your actions and how you type.

QuickType 2

-Messages

The new, tweaked Messages app in iOS 8 allows you to add or remove people from a group conversation. And also allows you to enable ‘Do Not Disturb’ thread-wise, and share location with your contacts.

Tap to Talk is a new feature that made the cut in Messages in iOS 8. It works exactly like how you’d expect it to; tap the little mic icon right next to the text box, record a message, and let go of the button to send it to the recipient. It’s that simple.

iOS 8 Messages

-Animations

Apple took a serious hammering from its’ user-base with the original release of iOS 7 in the system animations department. The issue was addressed with iOS 7.1, but iOS 8 well and truly addresses this issue even more.

Apple has reduced the number of animations throughout the OS, and has sped things up a little. Giving the whole OS a more speedy feel to it.

-iPhone, iPad and Mac connected together

With iOS 8 and OS X 10.10, you can now share files via AirDrop.

Send and Receive SMS and phone calls on Mac via iPhone.

iOS 8 OS X 10.10

-iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive allows you to work across applications and is integrated in iOS 8 in a lot of places. And as we explained in our OS X Yosemite post; it allows you to access your files on different platforms, all thanks to Apple’s iCloud infrastructure.

iCloud Drive 2

More on iCloud Drive: Apple Takes On Dropbox With iCloud Drive For iOS, Mac, Windows

-HealthKit and HomeKit

Apple has finally taken the wraps off HealthKit. It’s a centralized hub for all your health related alerts and notifications.

It’s really interesting how HealthKit actually works. It allows third-party apps to hook into the native Health app on iOS 8 and then show you all of your progress in one place in a beautiful UI.

If you have a FuelBand, or one of those health trackers from Jawbone, then instead of launching a specific – or supporting app – just launch Health app and all your progress is there waiting for you. Magic.

Health is not just a mere app in iOS 8, it is more like a complete fitness center for the user. It also allows professionals to send the user data pertaining to their checkups.

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Also added is support for HomeKit, which enables iOS devices to control home automation devices using Siri.

More on HealthKit and HomeKit: Apple Introduces HealthKit (Health App) And HomeKit In iOS 8: Here Are The Details

-Family Sharing

iOS 8 grants the user to set up their whole family as one unit, after which iOS 8 will automatically share photos, calendar events, reminder alerts etc. But wait, there’s more to Family Sharing. It also allows you to define your kids and their devices, and using Find my iPhone, you can see where your kids are. Pretty handy.

Family sharing also allows you to share, music, movies and TV shows with one another. And guess what? You can also share apps, and even an iTunes account. And yes, you need permission to buy apps from your parents.

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-Photos

Apple is taking Photos to a whole new level with the release of iOS 8. You can now have more photos in the cloud than you can have in your device alone.

Editing is also getting a boost with iOS 8, which will now sync edited photos across devices, a feature which Apple is dubbing as Smart Editing.

You get new editing controls and sliders, which truly gives the power of editing in the users’ hands.

All videos and photos are stored in iCloud in full resolution. And you get the first 5GB absolutely free, 20GB for $0.99 per month, 20GB for $3.99 going all the way to 1TB.

-Siri

Siri has also received a nice update in iOS 8. And now, she constantly listens to your voice and the simple ‘hey, Siri’ hotword wakes her up, ready to take your queries.

Siri now also features Shazam song recognition, purchase content from iTunes, streaming voice recognition and 22 new dictation languages.

-Maps

Maps on iOS have always been a disaster for a lot of places, and Apple is doing everything in its grip to make things right. And for users in China, Apple has announced that Maps have been greatly improved.

-App Store

The App Store has remained largely unchanged for years, except for some UI tweaks here and there. But in iOS 8, Apple wants to make app discovery a lot better with the introduction of trending searches, a new explore tab and continuous scrolling when you’re browsing through a long list of apps.

Apart from the above mentioned changes, Apple has introduced App Bundles, which as the name suggests, allows you to purchase a bundle of apps, negating the need of making multiple purchases for a large number of apps. A painful process if you’re a serial app buyer.

Developers now have the option to add App Previews, which is a small video showing off how the app works. Mind it, this is not a trial, but a mere video.

-TestFlight

A new section, which allows users and developers to try out beta apps, has been announce by Apple for the App Store. And the best part? It’s absolutely free to try and use.

-Extensibility

Apps made for iOS 8 have been granted new superpowers by the folks in Cupertino, and can now talk to different apps installed on the device and share information.

-Third-party Widgets

iOS 8 brings a feature to the fold which many users have been crying about for many years: widgets.

Widgets will live inside Notification Center, and not on the home screen, which might prove to be a bummer for some. But hey, Apple is finally granting us something which we’ve been crying for a long time, so let’s not go bashing them about it.

Notification Center widgets iOS 8

More on iOS 8 widgets: iOS 8 Finally Brings Support For Third-Party Widgets

-Third-party Keyboards

The above heading is not made up one bit! iOS 8 will allow users to install custom keyboards and they can be used system-wide. In short: keyboards like Swype, SwiftKey etc. will soon make their way to your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch!

Third party keyboard

More on iOS 8 keyboards: iOS 8 Adds QuickType Predictive Keyboard, Support For Swype-Like Third Party Keyboards

-Touch ID and Camera APIs

Touch ID is finally getting more useful in iOS 8, apart from being just a phone unlocking mechanism, allowing devs to harness its power in one of their apps using the official Touch ID API.

The Camera API is also being opened up a little more to devs, giving access to things like exposure controls, white balance etc.

Compatibility

iPhone:

  • iPhone 4s
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c

iPad:

  • iPad 2
  • iPad 3
  • iPad 4
  • iPad Air
  • iPad mini 1
  • iPad mini with Retina Display

iPod touch:

  • iPod touch 5G

iPhone 4 is not supported.

More iOS 8 compatibility: iOS 8 For iPhone 4 Compatibility, And Other Devices [Chart]

Release Date

iOS 8 beta available today to developers, will be available to public for the above mentioned iOS devices in Fall 2014.

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