Apple unveiled iOS 8 yesterday, with a bunch of new features for end-users and developers that bring the iPhone in parity to Android when it comes to some advanced features.
Here are the major Android features that we’re glad are available in iOS 8:
Android has had widgets since quite sometime, and Apple finally added support for widgets in iOS 8. Widgets are a part of Apple’s effort to make iOS extensible, and live inside the Today tab of the Notification Center or the lock screen with the purpose of giving quick access to information.
Keyboard input has seen a lot of innovation largely because Android allows companies like Swype, SwiftKey to provide their own keyboards that are available system wide. With iOS 8, users can install third-party keyboards on their iPhone or iPad, and popular third-party keyboards SwiftKey and Swype have said that they’ll have iOS 8 keyboards ready on launch.
Easier content sharing between apps
Sharing content between apps has been a sore point for iOS, and a huge strength for Android. With iOS 8, Apple brings the two platforms level, by letting apps add their own share options system wide. Apps can also define “actions” that helps users view or transform content within the context of another app. For instance, Bing could have a translate action in any app, that translates the selected text into a language of your choice.
Standard file picker
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. This is of course present in Android since quite some time.
These changes make it much easier to work on a single file from multiple apps without creating unnecessary copies.
Built-in support for beta testing
Google recently let developers beta test their apps through the Google Play Store itself, and Apple is doing something very similar with the new App Store through its recent acquisition of TestFlight.
App Store analytics
Tracking the way users are discovering your app is quite important for developers, and Google was way ahead with these features on the Play Store. At yesterday’s keynote, Apple made a significant step forward with a redesigned iTunes Connect that adds retention, and visits along with download and revenue numbers.
App Store video demoes
Google Play Store let developers add video demoes for their apps since quite some time, and Apple finally lets iOS developers do the same. Videos do a much better job at explaining the functionality of an app that screenshots, so this is a significant addition, not only from developers but even users’ point of view.
Another Android feature that let you take action on Notifications like reply to a message, respond to an event invite, snooze and alarm and so on. iOS 8 adds Interactive Notifications that third-party apps can take advantage of.
Google first brought hands-free Google Now voice search activation with the phrase “OK, Google” and iOS 8 lets you similarly activate Siri by simply saying “Hey, Siri.”
Google is of course the leader when it comes to search, and has naturally integrated its great searching abilities in Android. Spotlight in iOS 8 adds some intelligence in the way it shows results, by showing you iTunes and nearby theatres when you search for a movie, Maps results when you search for a place and so on.
Google famously tried to get into home automation with Android @ Home a few years back, but didn’t see much success. Apple’s HomeKit is a platform to achieve a similar goal, and we’ll see if this is a success or failure.
Before WWDC, we had posted about the Android features we want to see in iOS 8, and we’re quite pleased with what Apple showed us. If you’re an Android user, we would love to know if you will switch to iOS with these new features.