iOS 8 Arrives with HealthKit, Better Notifications, Improved iMessage

As expected, Apple has officially announced iOS 8 at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference today.

The new version of iOS comes with a very similar user interface that practically remains unchanged from iOS 7, but it includes some very cool features that we’ve seen before in other apps, but are coming to iOS natively.

First off, iOS 8 now comes with interactive notifications, which allow users to manage notifications and respond to them right from the Notification Center. So if you get a text message you can tap on it to reply to it right there without having to open up the Messages app. These work a lot like Android’s notifications, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. These interactive notifications also work on the lock screen, and the Facebook integration even allows you to “Like” or comment on a Facebook post directed at you.

iOS-8-notifications

As for the app switcher, it’s still the same overall look and design, although Apple has now added “Recent Contacts” or “Favorites” (whichever you prefer in the Settings) for which you can tap on a contact and call or text them from right there.

Spotlight Search in iOS 8 remains the same as iOS 7, but Apple added more things that you can search for, including searching for apps, points of interest, news, and songs (even on iTunes).

Apple also announced something called QuickType for the iOS keyboard, which is essentially predictive typing that’s very similar to what we’ve seen on Android with the Google Keyboard and SwiftKey. It learns your typing habits over time and provides you with suggested words as you’re typing.

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iOS-8-messages

In the Messages app, you can now finally remove certain contacts from group conversations and also give a custom name to group chats as well. Furthermore, you can enable Do Not Disturb for just certain conversations, so that you’ll still receive text messages from a friend, but you can quickly mute any incoming notifications from your mom.

Also in Messages, you can share your location with whomever you’re chatting with, as well as record a quick audio or video message and send it to them immediately. We’ve seen these features in other apps as well, including Snapchat and WhatsApp, but they’re now integrated into iOS, which is really cool.

As for new apps, Apple has announced HealthKit for iOS, which acts a centralized app to view all of your health data, like your step count, heart rate, calories burned and even data on how well you’re sleeping throughout the night.

iOS-8-healthkit

Apple has also partnered with a handful of healthcare providers, and HealthKit will allow these providers to receive and transmit reading data from patient checkups.

Of course, Siri wasn’t left out of the update circle. Apple added some great new functionality to Siri, including the ability to talk to Siri without even having to touch your iPhone (just say “Hey, Siri”). This is obviously a lot like “Ok, Google” for Android devices.

Siri also gets Shazam integration with iOS 8, with the ability to recognize a song played on the radio or at a bar.

Apple says that iOS 8 will arrive at some point in the fall, with a specific release date still under wraps, but multiple beta versions will most likely release over the summer for developers.

iOS 8 has been rumored for quite some time, with numerous leaks keeping us occupied for the last few months. What Apple announced today with iOS 8 isn’t all too surprising when we look back on the leaks, considering that we knew about HealthKit long before today.

Of course, during Apple’s keynote, we got the chance to actually get some details on iOS 8, which many leaks and rumors have unsurprisingly been missing, so it was certainly pleasant to get some closure as far as that was concerned.

Until iOS 8 publicly releases later this year, expect multiple betas to pop up over the next few months. Everyday casual users aren’t expected to try them out, but they’ll give us a good idea of changes that Apple will make to the new iOS version before it’s officially launched.

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