Apple has released four beta versions of iOS 8.3 so far. It is turning out to be quite a significant update. So we take a look at all the new features and improvements that we’ve discovered in iOS 8.3 betas.
Here’s what’s new in iOS 8.3:
New Emoji Keyboard
The Emoji keyboard has been completely revamped in iOS 8.3. The list of emojis is no longer paginated, making it easier to navigate through the large emoji library.
It also comes with a new emoji and emoji skin tone modifiers. When you select an emoji with a skin tone, such as one of the many people emoji, you will get an option to choose a specific skin tone from one of six options.
Apple has also added several new people emoji for greater diversity. Family emoji now include multiple same sex couples, both with children and without, and you get an option to choose a specific skin tone as well for them.
iOS 8.3 includes 32 new country flags, including flags for Canada, Australia, and India.
iOS 8.3 beta brings support for wireless CarPlay, which lets users connect their devices wirelessly to supported CarPlay systems in their car. In previous versions, users had to use the USB Lightning cable to connect.
iOS 8.3 includes several new features and improvements for Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant feature.
iOS 8.3 will allow users to use “Hey Siri” to make a call and direct the call to the speakerphone. All you need to do is say “Hey Siri call <insert name here> on speaker”, and it will make the call on the speakerphone, so you don’t need to tap on speaker button.
iOS 8.3 also brings much awaited support for additional language and country to Siri: English (India, New Zealand), Danish (Denmark), Dutch (Netherlands), Portuguese (Brazil), Russian (Russia), Swedish (Sweden), Thai (Thailand) and Turkish (Turkey).
Apple has also given the digital personal assistant a nice boost in voice performance — especially when it comes to the synthesis of speaking words and pronouncing them a bit differently. he biggest differences can be discerned from specific words, including the pronunciation of “America” and “potato.” In the video below, you can hear Siri speaking in iOS 8.1.1 first, and then, after the audio indicator, Siri speaking in her improved fashioned from the iOS 8.3 beta.
Siri will also tell you the time the message was sent if you ask it to read new messages.
Apple has also improved the design of the keyboard in iOS 8.3 to address an issue, which caused several iPhone users to accidentally tap the period key while attempting to use the space bar key in Safari.
As you can see below, Apple has increased the width of the space bar key, and reduced the size of the Go and period keys. This should help avoid accidentally tapping the period key while using Safari.
Conversation List Filtering
iOS 8.3 includes a nifty little feature for Messages app. It includes a new ‘Conversation List Filtering’ option for Messages. If you enabled the feature, it adds tabs to the Messages app as you can see below, which displays messages from people in your Contacts in the Contacts & SMS tab and those from unknown senders in Unknown Senders tab.
Google Two Factor authentication support
Google users who have 2-factor authentication (2FA) enabled can now use the standard 2FA flow, rather than generating an app specific password for signing in.
Other changes and improvements:
- We’re hearing reports that the overall performance on all iOS devices is better. Video comparisons have shown that iOS 8.3 may run slightly faster on older iOS devices.
- It looks like iCloud Photo Library service will finally sheds its beta tag with the launch of iOS 8.3. Apple had launched iCloud Photo Library with iOS 8.1 in January. But it was in beta at that time.
- Notifications now tell you which Group conversation the message was sent to, instead of just saying ‘Group Message’.
- The hands in the Clock app icon are a bit thinner (screenshot).
We don’t know when Apple plans to release iOS 8.3. Apple had released five beta versions for iOS 8.2, so we assuming that Apple will probably release one or two more beta versions before releasing it to the public. So we expect it to be released in April. Though most of the Apple Watch related changes were introduced in iOS 8.2, I won’t be surprised if iOS 8.3 is released before Apple Watch goes on sale on April 24th.
If you want to give iOS 8.3 a shot then you either need to be a developer, or you need to join Apple’s newly launched iOS Beta testing program, though it is invite-only currently.
Let me know what you think of iOS 8.3 in the comments.