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Apple Unveils iOS 8 At Worldwide Developers Conference

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Apple Unveils iOS 8 At Worldwide Developers Conference
[ Technology]

After unveiling Yosemite, the new version of Mac OS X, at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled iOS 8.

Just ahead of the presentation, CEO Tim Cook shared some stats: over 800 million iOS devices sold, 100 million iPod touch units, 200 million iPad units, and 500 million iPhone units. They’ve had over 130 million new-to-Apple customers in the last year.

“Many of these customers were switchers from Android,” Cook said. “They had bought an Android phone by mistake, and then had sought a better experience and a better life. And decided to check out iPhone and iOS. Nearly half of our customers in China in the past six months switched from Android to iPhone.”

According to Cook, 89% of iOS users are running the latest version of the OS, compared to 9% for Android. Over a third of Android users are running a version from four years ago, he said.

“That’s like ancient history,” said Cook. “That means that these customers are not getting great new features. They’re not able to run your latest apps. They don’t get security updates that they may need to stay safe. This is particularly important for Android, which dominates the global malware market.”

Craig Federighi took the stage to introduce iOS 8, which includes enhancements for both the iPhone and the iPad.

There’s a refined notification center, which lets you pull down messages, and reply from right where you are. You don’t have to leave the app you’re in. This works for Calendar events too, and it works from the lockscreen.

You can use double taps to get the people you communicate with most frequently. Safari for iPad gets a new tab view, as well as a side bar feature introduced for Yosemite.

There are new mail management features. You can swipe a message down in mail and have access to the rest of your mail, if you need to look for something to add to a message you’re working on.

The Spotlight feature lets you pull down on the home screen, execute searches, and find matches from the app store, Wikipedia entries, news, maps, songs from your own library and itunes, movie theater results, content for streaming, etc. In Safari, you can get Spotlight suggestions in addition to Google suggestions.

The QuickType feature supports predictive typing suggestions for words as you type, and it’s context sensitive. Even before you type, if someone asks if you want to go to dinner or a movie, for example, it will give you the options “dinner” or “movie,” before you even type anything. It learns how you type, so may suggest words that you specifically use.

The Continuity feature lets you pick up where you left off from your iPad to your iPhone, and vice versa.

Group Messaging in Messages lets you name your threads. You can add/remove people from a conversation that’s underway. There’s a do not distrub feature on a per thread level, and you can choose when to leave a thread. You can share your location in a conversation, and if someone shares theirs with you, you can see it from within messages.

The Tap to Talk feature lets you hold your finger down on the mic button, swipe up, and send what you said. it’s great for video messaging, Craig says.

iCloud Drive lets you work across applications. You can use it within apps to open compatible documents. You have access to docs from Mac and Windows.

It has some new enterprise features, including increased data protection, per-message S/MIME, VIP threads (if you want a notification for a thread you can get it with a tap) there’s automatic reply, supports third party document providers.

“For Enterprise, iOS 8 builds on the new IT model for a mobilized workforce by improving the way users are informed of how their devices are configured, managed or restricted,” Apple says. “iOS 8 offers expanded security and management improvements as well as new productivity features, including an expanded level of data protection for key built-in apps, the ability to set your out of office response, see your colleague’s availability when scheduling a meeting and support for configurable Thread Notifications in Mail.”

“For Enterprise, iOS 8 builds on the new IT model for a mobilized workforce by improving the way users are informed of how their devices are configured, managed or restricted,” it says. “iOS 8 offers expanded security and management improvements as well as new productivity features, including an expanded level of data protection for key built-in apps, the ability to set your out of office response, see your colleague’s availability when scheduling a meeting and support for configurable Thread Notifications in Mail.”

There’s a new Health app, which utilizes an API called HealthKit, which lets users consolidate health info from various third-party health apps. Partners include Nike and Mayo Clinic.

A Family Sharing features lets you share photos with a shared photo stream, and share calendars and reminder lists. You can configure Find My Friends, and find your kids devices. You can get purchases of all members of the family together for up to six family members who all share the same credit card. When kids try to to download an app, they get prompted to ask for permission, and the parent is prompted on their device.

Photos lets you access every photo you take from any of your devices. It has search suggestions based on location, time, and albums. It also has smart editing controls like light, color, auto-straightening, and cropping.

Siri now has Shazam song recognition, the ability to purchase iTunes content, streaming voice recognition, and 22 new dictation languages.

They’re adding some new features to the App Store as well, including a new Explore tab, top trending searches, related searches, and a new Editors’ Choice logo. They’re giving developers the ability to bundle apps together so people can buy them with a single tap. There’s also a new App Preview feature, which lets developers make short videos.

Developers also get a new free feature called TestFlight, which lets them invite users to beta test their app and get results.

There 4,000 new APIs, and the SDK is the biggest release sine the launch of the App Store. Third-party apps can take advantage of TouchID. With Extensibility, apps from App Store will be able to offer services to other apps.

A HomeKit API was also announced for various home devices (locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches). Devices can be grouped. Craig gave a scenario in which you tell Siri you’re “ready for bed,” and it locks all your doors, dims the lights, etc.

“As HealthKit combines health data to help you take better care of your health, HomeKit lets your home accessories connect seamlessly to better manage your home,’ the company said. “HomeKit delivers a common protocol, secure pairing and the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house including integration with Siri.”

They announced a new programming language called Swift, which they say is fast, modern, safe, and interactive.

More from the press release:

Developers can further customize the user experience with iOS extensions, including new sharing options, custom photo filters, custom actions and document APIs. Developers can now add their own widgets into Notification Center, and third-party keyboards offer additional layouts and input methods.

Gaming on iOS takes a huge leap forward in iOS 8 with Metal, a new graphics technology that maximizes performance on the A7 chip. With its dramatic 10 times improvement in draw call speed, Metal enables leading game providers for the first time to bring console-class 3D games to mobile devices. For casual games, iOS 8 now features SceneKit, making it easy to create fun 3D games, along with major enhancements to SpriteKit, including field forces, per-pixel physics and inverse kinematics.

Swift is a powerful new programming language for iOS and OS X that makes it easier than ever for developers to create incredible apps. Designed for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages. By design, Swift helps developers write safer and more reliable code by eliminating entire categories of common programming errors, and coexists with Objective-C code, so developers can easily integrate Swift into their existing apps. Xcode Playgrounds make writing Swift code incredibly interactive by instantly displaying the output of Swift code.

Also included are PhotoKit, new Camera APIs, and CloudKit. PhotoKit lets developers use the same framework as the built-in Photos app. CloudKit lets them estimate the need for writing server code and maintaining servers.

iOS 8 will be available to developers in beta today. It will be available to everyone else in the fall.

More on everything here.

Image via Apple

Apple Unveils iOS 8 At Worldwide Developers Conference
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