iOS 8 is Apple’s biggest update to iOS ever, and it is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It comes with a tonne of features, and we pick the top 25 of them in this post.
iOS 8 lets developers add custom actions to notifications like reply for messages, archive or trash for mails, decline/accept for calendar invites and so on. This will be really useful when you want to quickly respond to a message without leaving the current app, or when you like a Facebook comment.
➤ Read more: Interactive Notifications
When plugged in, you can activate Siri on your iPhone or iPad handsfree by simply saying “Hey Siri.” It’s great for the times when you’re driving, and want to ask Siri for something, but don’t want to take your eyes off the road.
iOS 8 includes a new predictive typing system called QuickType. As soon as you start typing on the iOS Keyboard, it offers three recommended words or phrases you’d probably type next. Apple says that the suggestions will be made based on your past conversations and writing style. It also takes into account the casual style you might use while sending text messages and the more formal language that you tend to use while sending an email.
AirDrop on Mac and iOS
AirDrop finally works across Mac and iOS. You’ll be able to send photos, videos, links and files from your iPhone or iPad to Mac, and vice versa.
SMS and Phone calls on iPad and Mac
With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll be able to make and receive phone calls on your Mac and iPad, as long as your iPhone is nearby and signed into the same iCloud account. When a call comes in, your Mac pops up a notification with the caller’s name, number and photo, along with the option to answer or decline. The notification also lets you know that the call is coming via your iPhone.
Apple added a similar feature for SMS too, where you could send and receive SMSes on your Mac and iPad, but the feature got downgraded to beta in iOS 8 GM.
Handoff is a new feature in iOS 8 and Mac that lets developers enable users to transition from iOS to Mac, and vice-versa, seamlessly. It detects devices in proximity, and, as long as they’re signed into the same iCloud account, lets them talk to each other to ensure activities are transferred between the them seamlessly. So you can pick up the same Numbers document you were working on your Mac, on your iPad, by just sliding up the Numbers icon on the lock screen.
➤ Read more: Handoff makes going from iOS to Mac seamless
iOS 8 finally brings a feature that we had long been waiting for: Widgets. Widgets will be available in the Today tab in Notification Center as well as on the lock screen. Apple demoed a number of widgets, including eBay, for viewing wish list items and bids and SportsCenter for viewing scores and headlines.
➤ Read more: iOS 8 Widgets Explained
With iOS 8, Apple is letting third-party developers replace the built-in keyboard with their own keyboard, system-wide. Many popular keyboard makers like Swype, SwiftKey, Flesky and TouchPal have said that they’ll have iOS 8 keyboards available on launch day.
➤ Read more: iOS 8 Custom Keyboards
Tab view in Safari for iPad
iOS 8 brings the Tab view to Safari on the iPad. The Tab view on Safari is more organized, as tabs from the same site are grouped together, and the tabs open on your other devices are nicely arranged below the tabs.
You can switch to the new Safari tab view with a two or three-finger pinch gesture as you can see in the video below, which is quite cool.
With iOS 8 Apple has finally added a search button to the Photos app, that you can tap and find photos based on date, time, location, or album name. You also get suggestions as you type, as well as recent searches, so that you can find what you’re looking for as soon as possible:
➤ Read more: iOS 8 Photos, Camera and Image Editing
Apple has also improved the editing features, adding smart adjustments to fix light and color using a simple slider. You can also straighten your photo and adjust the crop, after you’ve clicked it. There’s a circular dial that lets you further adjust the degree of rotation. All edits you make are synced to all your devices with iCloud.
➤ Read more: iOS 8 Photos, Camera and Image Editing
iOS 8 introduces a new feature called Family Sharing that makes this entire process a whole lot simpler by removing the requirement to be signed in to the same account across all devices. So your spouse could use their own account, but also be able to access apps and media you’ve purchased, location of your devices, shared reminders and more without needing your password.
➤ Read more: iOS 8 Family Sharing
With iOS 8, Apple’s made the sharing system more modern, letting app developers provide their own sharing options in other apps. So instead of an app developer integrated Pinterest in their own app, Pinterest itself could tell iOS to show the Pinterest share option where ever a photo is to be shared.
An action extension is quite powerful — it “helps users view or transform content within the context of another app.” The action extension Apple demoed was Bing’s translator, that could translate selected text in Safari into a different language. Working on the same data with multiple apps was certainly possible in earlier iOS versions, but was quite tricky. Actions does this in a native, seamless manner.
iOS 8 lets you access your favorite app’s photo or video editing interface, make changes and save the edited photo, all without leaving the Photos app. In the future, Instagram, VSCO cam or Aviary could have their own interface pop up within the Photos app, and you can apply your favorite filters and presets without jumping through multiple apps.
Apple addressed another huge annoyance with iOS, and made it much easier to deal with files across multiple apps. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive etc. can now define themselves as “Storage Providers” so that apps that deal with files can store and retrieve files stored in these services without any hassles. These changes make it much easier to work on a single file from multiple apps without creating unnecessary copies.
iCloud Drive is a new iCloud feature that lets use iCloud as a Dropbox or Google Drive alternative. It exists as a folder on iOS and Mac devices, where all files and subfolders are synced. You can use iCloud Drive to work on a single document across different iOS apps without creating any unnecessary copies:
Touch ID in third-party apps
With iOS 8, Touch ID is becoming even more useful, as app developers will be able to let users log in to their own services with their fingerprints. This, as you can imagine, will be much more convenient than typing your username and password each time you log in.
Safari saved passwords available in native apps
Third party apps can now access saved passwords and other AutoFill info from Safari as long as both of them point to the same domain. This will make it a lot easier to login to native apps, as the Safari saved password database is synced across your iPhone, iPad and Mac. Additionally, apps can also add passwords to Safari’s AutoFill info, so that the same credentials get reflected across all your devices.
Siri’s Shazam song recognition
You’ve likely used Shazam or Soundhound to identify what song is playing by letting the app record a portion of the song. This functionality is now built into Siri. You can simply ask Siri “What song is this” and it starts listening to get a sample of the song. Once the song is recognised, Siri shows a link to buy the song, and a button to open the Shazam app for more info.
Scan Credit Card to autofill payment info
In iOS 8, Safari includes a new feature that will allow users to scan a credit card with their iPhone or iPad’s camera, so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of entering it manually. This feature is also used to add a credit card or debit card to Apple’s new Apple Pay mobile payments solution.
Per app Battery usage
OS X Mavericks added a really useful feature that let you zero down on apps that were consuming significant energy. iOS 8 add a similar option to let you see battery usage by app, so that the next time you see an unusual battery drop, you know who to blame.
Time Lapse mode in Camera
iOS 8 adds a new Time Lapse video mode to the Camera app. Time lapse photography, if you’re not aware, is a technique where photos are clicked with long time intervals between them, so that the when played together at a normal frame rate, the sequence appears to “lapse”.
Automatically delete Messages
If you’re a heavy Messages app user, then the storage space used up by Messages can be run into GBs of data.
In iOS 8, Apple has added a feature that allows you to automatically delete messages after a certain amount of time, so you don’t have to go through the painful task of deleting them manually when you run out of free space.
Finally give group chat a custom name
You can finally give a conversation or group chat a name in the Messages app in iOS 8, so you can find it later and figure out the context. It is quite easy to change the name, but not very obvious, so it is easy to miss it.
Check out the video that we’ve created to showcase some of our favorite iOS 8 features:
Apple has added a lot of features to iOS 8. Let us know in the comments which one is your favorite.