What’s new in iOS 8.1: Apple Pay, SMS Relay, Camera Roll Restored, Instant Hotspot and more

At yesterday’s iPad and Mac Special Event, Apple announced that iOS 8.1 will be releasing publicly Monday, October 20th. The release, which was seeded as a beta to registered developers a few weeks back, comes with a number of new features as well as bug fixes.

Here’s what’s new:

SMS Relay

Continuity was a big theme in iOS 8 and OS X. You can receive and make phone calls from your iPad, seamlessly switch from your iOS device to Mac without losing your document progress etc. Apple also demoed the capability of receiving and sending SMS messages from iPad and Mac, through your iPhone, but that feature got pulled at the last minute in iOS 8. iOS 8.1 will finally bring SMS Continuity to the iPhone and iPad.

When an iPhone is nearby, Mac users can now send and receive standard SMS text messages right on the desktop through Messages for Mac, which was previously limited to iMessages sent and received over a Wi-Fi connection.

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Instant Hotspot

Instant Hotspot is another Continuity feature that was demoed at the WWDC keynote, but didn’t ship with iOS 8. It is a convenient feature in which OS X Yosemite can automatically detect a nearby iPhone and place it within the list of available wireless connections in the top menu bar. If you don’t have Wi-Fi or tether your iPhone with your Mac a lot, you will no longer have to go into Settings and enable Personal Hotspot every time you want to pair the device with your computer.

Instant Hotspot even shows your cellular signal strength and a battery life indicator within the Wi-Fi drop down menu. The feature is intuitive enough to ask Mac users if they would like to connect to their iPhone over Personal Hotspot when there is no Wi-Fi connection available.

instant hotspot

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payments system that works at physical stores and online. The feature that is built within Passbook, and authorises your purchases with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Apple Pay is starting to roll out in physical stores in a few days, and you’ll be able to start paying with your iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus starting Monday, with iOS 8.1.

apple pay image

iCloud Photo Library

iCloud Photo Library was again a feature that Apple demoed at WWDC but pulled just days before the iOS 8.0 release. iCloud Photo Library lets you to store photos taken on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch directly on iCloud, instead of storing them in Camera Roll and taking up the physical storage of the device. All photos stored in iCloud Photo Library counted against your cloud storage plan, such as the free 5 GB that Apple offers by default.

Apple will introduce iCloud Photo Library in beta with iOS 8.1.

icloud photos integration

Camera Roll

With iOS 8.1, Apple made some changes to the Photos app which created a huge confusion amongst iOS users. It removed Camera Roll, the default album which contained all photos, and instead replaced it with Recently added, that contained photos that were added in the past 30 days. For all photos, users were expected to see the Collections view, in the Photos tab.

With iOS 8.1, Apple is removing this confusion by bringing back the Camera Roll.

And more

These are the major changes in iOS 8.1. Other minor changes include a setting to disable the Dictation key, a redesigned iBooks icon, and a tweaked Settings view for apps. We also hope that iOS 8.1 fixes all the stabilities, bugs, and crashed we’ve faced with iOS 8.0.x releases.

Are you looking forward to iOS 8.1? Let us know in the comments below.