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Apple announces iOS 8

Apple announces iOS 8
Courtesy of Apple

Updated: Watch the event below.

Apple had a number of announcements at its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote today. One of the biggest was the next version of the iOS operating system that runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Predictably named iOS 8 (the current version is iOS 7), it doesn't seem to offer much improvement at first glance - just a few tweaks here and there. Still, there are some features that have big implications for the future of Apple.

First, let's talk about those tweaks.

  • The design in iOS 8 is the same as in iOS 7, which was flatter and cleaner than previous versions.
  • The notification system is a bit more user-friendly now. You can open emails, text messages, contacts and other app notifications right from the notification window. Notifications also appear on the Lockscreen.
  • Spotlight, iOS's search system, is updated so it can more easily pull up contacts, apps and even search results from Google.
  • Frequently contacts now appear in the Task Switcher screen and the information sidebar from OS X Yosemite is making an appearance.
  • Apple has updated the iOS 8 keyboard with QuickType. This is just predictive text, which learns your style and can fill in your next word, making typing faster. Android has had this for a long time.
  • There's now Group Messaging for texting between more than two people, which is going to be good for families.
  • Speaking of great news for families, a big new feature is Family Sharing. Up to six family members can share iTunes apps, books, music and videos, along with photos, calendars, locations and more. You don't have to buy multiple apps for everyone's phones and tablets.

OK, those are nice updates, but now let's talk about the big changes.

HomeKit

There's a lot of talk lately about the Internet of Things, which includes smart gadgets for your house. Locks, lights, thermostats, appliances - basically everything in your house could eventually be controlled or talk to each other.

Apple's HomeKit is a way for developers to bring smart gear from various companies into one location. You can create automated sets of gadgets so one button press gets your house ready for bedtime, mornings at home, vacation, etc.

So far HomeKit is compatible with companies like August (smart locks), Philips (Hue LED light), Honeywell, iHome, TI and more.

HealthKit

With the iPhone 5s, Apple added the M7 co-processor to help crunch data from health and fitness gear. iOS 8 ups the ante with HealthKit.

This vault tracks and stores your daily and long-term health information. It works with products from Jawbone, Fitbit and Nike, and Apple is working to connect it to the Mayo Clinic and other health providers.

Your doctor could eventually see in real time if you're exercising or potential health problems.

Handoff

iOS and OS X are getting even more integrated with Handoff. This allows you to be working on your Mac and seamlessly switch over to working on your iPhone or iPad, or vice versa. It's also part of the new OS X, which Apple also announced today.

Click here to learn about the great features in OS X Yosemite.

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Source: Apple
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