Apple has been at the top of the smartphone food-chain when it comes to profits and is one of the biggest manufacturers of smartphones and tablets for quite some time now. And it looks like they are going to do anything to preserve that and gain more.
Today, during WWDC 2014 Keynote address Apple has unveiled the latest and greatest in their iOS lineup - iOS 8 using developers to give power to the people and it would be conservative to say that they got cheers.Lets have a look at the good stuff.
Apple has catered to, what may be the number one, request of users to be able to respond to notifications like messages directly at the notification center without being required to open the application. They have named this Interactive Notifications.
Users can also respond to Meeting requests or like things on FaceBook with the help of 'Actionable Notifications'.
Guys over at Apple have added an ability of showing people you have recently conversed with or even favorites right on the Multitasking Screen and get in touch with them without being specifically required to open the Phone or Messages app and starting the process.
Apple has added a new feature called QuickType to the iOS 8 Keyboard which is basically a predictive text feature that we have seen a ton of times on Android and Windows Phone already.
But Apple has added an extra layer of personal customization to this feature by making it pre-fill words like 'dinner' or 'movie' in reply texts which had these originally in the received text.
Apple has done some great improvements to the messaging app by inducing new features such as Naming a thread and setting a single specific thread to Do Not Disturb. Group Messaging feature along with Tap to Talk and Location Sharing have been added to the iMessages section.
Also, there is an amazing new security feature resembling the Self-Destruct button of villain ships - the attachments that you receive will self-destruct (Automatically deleted) within 2 minutes of opening the message unless you choose to save it if you activate this feature. Its kinda neat and answers privacy concerns of many individuals.
As expected by many, Apple has announced the release of its Health App based on its brand new HealthKit framework. According to Apple, the problem with health related apps and hardware has never the absence of data but its misinterpretation and thus giving it context by tapping into the clinics around the world is a nice way to integrate the experience into one.
Family Sharing has been announced as well. This nifty little feature allows families of upto 6 people share photos, books, movies and more seamlessly. Also, all these 6 accounts can use same credit card and all the media and application content purchased with this credit card will be available on all the 6 devices without any additional charge. Also, while buying with this credit card, the buyer member of the family will need permission from others members as well.
Apple has launched a new iCloud Drive for iOS and Mac users bringing iCloud a dropbox-like feature of Simple File storage. One very important thing to note here is that it has a simple folder based storage system which first for any iOS related service. iCloud drive will be supported on Windows based Laptops and Desktops too.
Apple has added a very unexpected although a bit borrowed feature to the Mail App. Mail Drop feature lets you mail any file or set of files upto 5 GB using the Mail App. The receiver doesn't directly get the file but a link to download it. It is like sharing big files using Google Drive but with a difference that you don't need iCloud Drive directly to use this feature.
Secondly, Apple has added the ability to minimize mails on iPads.
Apple has certainly a slot of their time with the Photos app as well making it look more like an amalgamation of iPhoto App and iOS 7 Photos App. It brings the light (exposure) related editing features along with the new interface as it can be seen in the image above.
Apple has also added a much more granular display of what settings Photos app is changing during the Editing session of an image.
This is one of the two biggest announcements of today. Basically, this feature lets the app communicate with each other through the creation of "Live app sandboxes" adding better security then implementations of the same feature on other operating systems. In simpler language, this gives developers chance to interact with other apps which was missing on any iOS before and inject their own UI into other apps without actually injecting themselves into it but even bigger whoop is that it allows for creation of widgets that live in Notification Center. Yes, you read it right - Widgets are here on iOS.
Ready for another cheer? This also means some increase in customization options in iOS because of increase in the app to app functionalities. Example - Users can now install custom keyboard and replace the System keyboard. Yes, again I want to say you have not read it wrong. Federighi showcased with the help of the most popular custom keyboard, Swype.
Touch ID API
Apple has made the Touch ID API availbale to developers without sharing the Fingerprint Data - a tabulated smart move by the industry experts.
This is a brand new framework Apple has introduced with iOS 8 which lets you build tools to integrate with all the smart devices throughout the house using a paired iPhone.
Swift - The new programming language
Apple saved the biggest announcement of the day for the end and we took the cue as well. Everyone knows that Apple allows application development for all its operating system in only one language - Objective-C. They have changed for the first time in 20 years by introducing a new language Swift that, although is based on the same LLVM compiler, has better dynamic characteristics to it. iOS developers have already started going ape over this.
You can know more about the language here.
Apple also announced new Scene Kit for 3D rendering in casual games and new Metal framework for advanced graphic computing.
It is quite clear that Apple has been quite busy at work with the iOS 8 and have got rid some of the most prolonged complaints of iOS users. How well these have been implemented in real time is yet to be seen. iOS 8 Beta is already available for developers but will be available for general masses in the fall along with the launch of iPhone 6.
The devices supported by iOS 8 are as follows.