iOS 8 Rumor Roundup (March)

While most consumers are wrapped up in Apple’s latest iOS 7 update, many others are looking ahead toward the future, at the next big update from Tim Cook and company. iOS 8 is expected to be the update that replaces iOS 7 and here, we take a look at all of the early iOS 8 rumblings we’ve seen thus far.

Most iPhone and iPad owners are fixated on Apple’s latest iOS 7 update. Last week, Apple introduced iOS 7.1 to the world, an update that not only delivered bug fixes but also brought the company’s new CarPlay feature and several other important enhancements to owners of its iOS 7-powered smartphones and tablets.

Historically, Apple’s iOS x.1 updates have served as the bridge between its major ones and from the looks of things, there is a very good chance that iOS 7.1 arrived in between Apple’s iOS 7 update and its next major update, rumored to be iOS 8.

For weeks, we’ve heard quite a bit about what could be coming next from Apple. iOS 8 is still very much elusive but rumors have been able to shed some light on some of the features that might be on board Apple’s next piece of mobile software.

With iOS 8 rumors swirling and with June fast approaching, we want to take an early look at how iOS 8 is shaping up.

iOS 8 Launch Date

So far, rumors have not pointed to a specific launch date. History though suggests that Apple will unveil its new software update on stage at its annual developers conference, also known as WWDC.

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WWDC takes up one of the wings of San Francisco’s Moscone Center and it’s also has served as the launching pad for Apple’s new iOS and OS X software updates. Last year it was OS X Mavericks and iOS 7, the year before it was OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6. Software is the focal point of the WWDC keynote and that’s where we expect iOS 8 to land this year.

Moscone

Apple still hasn’t announced specific dates for WWDC but that isn’t out of the ordinary. Historically, Apple has confirmed WWDC dates in late April, ahead of its arrival in June.

Up to this point, we haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary and that means that we could hear about WWDC next month. And it’s there that we should see Apple debut its new iOS software.

iOS 8 Release Date

We don’t know much about the iOS 8 release date either. However, what we do know is that Apple tends to release new iOS software alongside a new iPhone. And we have heard quite a bit about the iPhone 6 release date.

iPhone 6 rumors point to two possible launch windows. One group of rumors suggests an arrival during the summer. The majority of iPhone 6 release date rumors though peg it for the fall, the window that Apple has used for the past three iPhones.

A larger iPhone 6 could bring Android users to iPhone.

A larger iPhone 6 could bring Android users to iPhone.

Fall, while not confirmed, does makes a lot of sense. Apple typically releases an iOS beta for developers to tinker with ahead of an update’s release. This allows them to work out the kinks and better prepare for its arrival. Last year’s iOS 7 beta was released shortly after it was announced on stage at WWDC and it’s possible that we could see the same happen here.

As far as a specific release date is concerned, Apple tends to release its major iOS updates a few days before the new iPhone’s release date and about a week after the iPhone announcement. That’s what iPhone and iPad owners should expect for the moment.

iOS 8 Availability

As far as iOS 8 availability goes, there are signs that point to the devices that will be getting the next version of iOS. Earlier this week, Apple canned the iPad 2 and replaced it with the iPad 4 at the same $399.99 price point. As Sumocat points out, this mid-cycle replacement strong points to the iPad 2 getting left behind on iOS 7.1. History suggests the same thing.

Apple tends to give devices three years of software support. The iPad 2 and the iPhone 4 has been upgraded three times since they were released so there is a very good chance that neither one will get iOS 8 when it arrives.

Every other device running iOS 7, including the iPhone 4s, should get the upgrade to Apple’s newest update. Keep in mind though, Apple tends to offer stripped down versions for older devices. That means a tablet like the iPad 3 probably won’t get iOS 8′s full feature-set.

iOS 8 Features

That brings us to iOS 8′s feature-set which makes up the bulk of iOS 8 rumors. The first iOS 8 rumors arrived back at the end of January and since then, we’ve seen a number of details pop up to the surface.

The first iOS 8 rumor came from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman. In fact, just about every iOS 8 rumor so far comes from Gurman.

This Healthbook mockup shows what Apple's app may look like in iOS 8.

This Healthbook mockup shows what Apple’s app may look like in iOS 8.

The report states that “iOS 8 likely will not feature major interface or graphics changes. There will be minor enhancements across the system, but none that are as noticeable as the changes introduced last year.” iOS 7 introduced massive design changes to Apple’s software and completely changed the look of iOS forever. Apple called iOS 7 the biggest change to iOS since the software debuted back with the original iPhone.

His initial report also suggested that iOS 8 will focus on fitness tracking, health tracking and sensors and that those features could be dominated by an app called Healthbook.

Thanks to another extensive leak from Gurman, we know quite a bit about Apple’s plans for Healthbook. The app will apparently track both weight and activity. The report also claims that the software will track nutrition by monitoring food intake. iOS 8 may also track the user’s heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, blood sugar and more.

Apple sells many accessories, which we could see work with Healthbook in iOS 8.

Apple sells many accessories, which we could see work with Healthbook in iOS 8.

Coincidence or not, these rumors have emerged in the weeks after Samsung’s Galaxy S5 launch. The Samsung Galaxy S5, which arrives in April, comes with health-focused software of its own. The device was also announced on stage alongside new Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Fit accessories, accessories that are directly tied into Samsung’s health solutions.

Rumors suggest that Apple has an iWatch of its own in the works and it could be that this new watch, a new iPhone or both tie in heavily with Apple’s Healthbook application.

iOS 8 is rumored to have more than just health related features on board. Another report from Gurman suggests that the new update will make dramatic improvements to Apple’s controversial Maps application.

“The new application will also be injected with new points of interests and new labels to make places such as airports, parks, train stations, bus stops, highways, and freeways easier to find.”

The report also claims that Apple will improve the public transportation experience inside the Maps application. Currently, Apple points to other Maps, Google Maps included, for those that need detailed public transit routes and directions.

The iOS 8 update could bring an iTunes Radio app that exists outside of the stock Music App.

The iOS 8 update could bring an iTunes Radio app that exists outside of the stock Music App.

Gurman also claims that the iOS 8 update could be focused on Apple’s Pandora competitor, iTunes Radio. Apple is reportedly considering making iTunes Radio a standalone application inside of its new iOS software which would help put the application front and center for iPhone and iPad owners. The feature currently exists as a tab inside of its Music application.

Reports also suggest that the software could feature changes to Notification Center. Apple apparently might remove the missed notifications tab which would put everything on one screen. Rumors also point to better communication amongst iPhone apps. For example, a photo editing app could pass off an edited photo to the Instagram app, without the need to save to a camera roll and open the other app.

The iOS 8 Notification Center may clear out the Missed Tab.

The iOS 8 Notification Center may clear out the Missed Tab.

Gurman also claims that iOS 8 will continue to focus on performance. He claims that Apple is still working to deliver apps that launch faster, close faster and offer a “smoother and more stable.” user experience.

We also recently saw purported iOS 8 screenshots emerge. The screenshots which emerged out of China micro-blogging site Weibo, purportedly show icons for Healthbook, Preview TextEdit and an app called Tips.

iOS 8 screenshots

TextEdit and Preview, if real, figure to be ports of Apple’s current OS X applications while the Tips application remains a mystery. We’ve speculated that it could be a digital and interactive version of the user manual that comes with every iOS device.

iOS 8 rumors will continue to emerge in the buildup to its launch later on this year but from the looks of things, it appears that the software’s primary focus will be on health and fitness and improving software that is already found inside the company’s iOS 7 update.

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