iOS 8: What You Need To Know

Senior Contributor
06.02.14 17 Comments


Today was the keynote for the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, where basically people who code stuff for Apple get in a room and talk about how great Apple is. It’s also where Apple announces its software, including the only software you really care about, iOS 8. So what’s new?

Extensions, Finally

App developers can now create extensions for iOS. This essentially means that apps can work together to provide functions, and will open up the system in some fascinating ways.

Family Sharing

Buy a book, song, movie, app, whatever, and you can share it with up to six people attached to the same credit card. It’s a useful feature, if somewhat limited, and we’ll be curious to see how it’s received.

A Predictive Keyboard

Apple has finally created a context-sensitive keyboard in iOS, essentially meaning that it learns how you type as you use it and offers suggestions based on what you’ve said in the past. It’s nice to see the biggest company in the world getting caught up with Android after several years of this practically being standard.

iMessage Is Now Very Snapchatty

iMessage can now be used to send short video and audio clips, which you can either save or self-destruct. Expect this feature to be incredibly annoying until the novelty wears off. Fortunately, for group texts, or annoying people, there’s now a mute button. And, if you need to track your friends, you can share your location for a limited time in the app.

“Continuity”, Or Dammit Stop Using Our Competitor’s Products

Probably the second worst feature, in its own way, is Continuity. On the surface, it is actually pretty cool. Basically, your iPad, iPhone, and Mac integrate seamlessly; leave off an email on your Mac and it’s waiting there for you to finish on your iPad.

All of this is tied heavily to Mac OS X 10.10, which Apple is calling “Yosemite” and everyone else is calling OS Triple X. It even extends to sending and receiving text messages and voice calls on your Mac from your iPhone.

This would be less annoying if it weren’t Apple steadily trying to lock in users and make in more difficult to leave. See, for example, the fact that you have to call Apple to get your phone number removed from iMessage. They’re also trying to lock you away from Google in various ways, including keeping Google’s search results out of Spotlight. So if you were hoping that this feature would play nice with the services and equipment you already have set up, joke’s on you.

It’s a bit much to expect Google, Apple and Amazon to play nice. But by the same token, it would be nice if there was at least some acknowledgement of the reality that not everybody wants to buy into a full ecosystem of products. This is software designed with the boardroom in mind, ultimately, not the user.

Siri Is Listening

Probably the creepiest revelation is that Siri will be listening all the time now. Yes, the personal assistant no one actually wants will now be ready when you say “Hey Siri.” On the bright side, it’s integrated with Shazam, now, so at least you don’t have to boot the app to figure out what song you’re hearing.

Missing In Action

Hoping to finally see split-screen multitasking? NOPE. Also notably missing was Apple’s home automation system; we were supposed to start seeing hints of that this week.

So, overall, decent news, but Apple could stand to admit that it’s no longer 1998. We expect that to happen roughly when iPhones and iPad stop selling by the crate.

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