Apple unveils iOS 8 with Interactive Notifications, QuickType, Third-Party Keyboard and more

iOS 8 logo

Apple has officially announced iOS 8, the next major version of its mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch at the WWDC keynote in Moscone Center, San Francisco this morning.

Here are the main features in iOS 8, as highlighted at today’s keynote:

Interactive Notifications

An item that has long been on our wishlist is finally a reality. iOS 8 adds support for interactive notifications so that you can reply or take actions right from the Notification Center. Apps updated for iOS 8 can take advantage of interactive notifications.

interactive-notifications

Recent Contacts in app switcher

Apple utilised the empty space in the multitasking app switcher by adding recent contacts and key people at the top in the form of circular avatars:

recent contacts

Spotlight

Spotlight has become a lot more intelligent in iOS 8. You can simply type in your queries, and Spotlight automatically recognizes what you’re searching for, and shows you results accordingly. For example, movie searches will show you nearby theatres and iTunes results, place-related queries will show you Wikipedia and Maps results and so on.

spotlight ios 8

QuickType

We’ve long been asking for a better, more modern keyboard on iOS, and Apple’s answer to that is QuickType, a smarter, faster way to type on your iPhone. Like many other Android keyboards, QuickType will offer you predictive text suggestions as you type, and will learn from your typing habits. Sadly, the iOS 8 QuickType keyboard doesn’t have a Swype-like gesture based input.

quicktype ios 8

Messages improvements

Apple said that Messages was the most frequently used app on iOS, and it’ll receive a number of new features in iOS 8:

  • Group messaging: Threads can finally have their own name, you can add/remove people from threads, and also mute (Do Not Disturb) threads.
  • Location Sharing: A common feature in third-party messaging apps, iOS 8 Messages will let you share your location with your friends via a message. You can share your location for a limited time period, or indefinitely.
location sharing messages ios 8
  • Tap to Talk: Messages adds another popular feature in third-party apps — Tap to talk. You can create video or audio clips with the tap of a button and send them across to your friends or family via Messages.
tap to talk

iCloud Drive

Apple expanded its iCloud Service with a new feature called iCloud Drive that competes with Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive etc. iCloud Drive, much like Dropbox, is a central location where you put files that get synced across your Mac and iOS devices. For more details, head here.

Health

As rumored, Apple unveiled a new Health app and HealthKit platform to maintain a centralised location for all your health and fitness data. Apple has partnered with a number of health providers who can see and add data from checkups. For more on the Health app and HealthKit, visit this link.

App Store improvements

The App Store got some much-needed improvements including:

  • A new explore tab, trending searches, related searches
  • App bundles, letting developers offer a collection of apps grouped as a single purchase
  • App videos: Along with screenshots, developers can also add video demoes of their app
  • TestFlight beta testing: Apple recently acquired TestFlight, a popular app beta testing service. iOS 8 has TestFlight built right into the App Store.

Inter-app communication

Another feature that has long been on our wishlist is finally checked off. iOS 8 will let third-party apps extend the system to offer services to other apps, which will let services like Pinterest, that aren’t part of the system, offering sharing in other apps too. VSCO cam can open a photo from the Photos app, files can be fetched from any cloud service provider and so on.

inter app communication

Siri

Apple announced a wide variety of new Siri features today, including a ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature, Shazam song recognition, the ability to purchase iTunes, content. For more on the changes in Siri, visit this link.

siri

Third-party keyboards

Along with the new QuickType keyboard, Apple is also letting developers develop their own keyboards for iOS 8 devices.

third party keyboards ios 8

Widgets

With iOS 8, third party apps can define Widgets, that live in the Notification Center, or in Safari. Widgets are a part of the Extensibility framework in iOS 8 that can let apps pop their own UI in other apps. Apple showed the example of eBay’s widget that showed the most recent products in the Notification Center.

ebay extension

Update:

Other iOS 8 related articles:

Swype and SwiftKey popular third-party keyboards on Android are finally coming to iPhone

[Photos via The Verge]