In addition to a new iPhone for 2014, we expect to see a new version of iOS for 2014. The iOS 7.1 release is rumored or March, but after this small update we are turning our eyes to iOS 8.
As far as Apple is concerned, there is no iOS 8 that consumers need to be concerned about, though the company did issue a statement that it would be delivering bug fixes for the frequent white logo reboots of iOS 7 versions up through iOS 7.0.4 in the U.S. This will likely come as the iOS 7.1 update that is rumored for March.
With the iOS 8 update, Apple’s attention is reportedly turning to bigger and better things for the iPhone and iPad software. While leaks are still scarce there are some small hints at what Apple is working on in iOS 8. Here are 5 things to know about the iOS 8 update as we move into February.
Familiar Look and Feel
Apple uses a major jump in the iOS line to offer new features, and in 2013 Apple used it to introduce a radical new look for the iPhone and iPad software that shapes the vision of iOS to come.
We don’t expect Apple will use the iOS 8 release to usher in any major visual changes for iOS 8. For one, the company is still busy polishing iOS 7’s look with numerous updates to the user experience for iOS 7.1.
With small changes still on the way for an update that could arrive in the next two months, and the fact that Apple did not make major changes to the iOS look until last year it seems unlikely that the company would shake things up again.
From an insider perspective Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac shares 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.”
With these factors combined, users should not be surprised to see an iOS 8 release bring small tweaks to the user experience that enhance functionality without dramatically changing the user experience.
Health and Fitness Tracking
In the most recent release of information about iOS 8, sources tell Gurman that there will be a major focus on fitness tracking, health tracking and sensors. The sources point to s singular app under development as Healthbook that appears to be a key component of taking the tracking Apple started with the iPhone 5s and the M7 coprocessor to a new level in 2014.
Perhaps the most interesting information that 9to5Mac sources share are the breadth of things Apple wants to allow this app to track in iOS 8, some of which will certainly require new accessories or sensors on board an iWatch or new iPhone 6.
- steps taken
- calories burned
- miles walked
- weight loss
- blood pressure
- hydration levels
- heart rate
- glucose levels (potentially)
- Medication tracking with reminders
The app will reportedly look similar to the Passbook app which uses cards to show information. Samsung offers an S Health app on the Galaxy S4, but it does not track this depth of information.
In order to deliver on this Apple will need to leverage an array of sensors that traditionally existed in third-party accessories which means that iOS 8 will enable the features, but users will possibly need an iPhone 6 or iWatch with new sensors to fully experience the health and fitness benefits of iOS 8.
iOS 8 is Key to iWatch
iOS 7 brought a major change to the look of iOS, but it didn’t deliver the same big set of new features as iOS 6 did. The iOS 8 update is shaping up to be one that brings a collection of new features and enables connections to new sensors and devices.
There is a lot of speculation about iOS 8 bringing new features, but the first solid information about the new operating system comes from 9to5Mac. In the same article that details the health and fitness features, Gurman shares details about iOS 8 and an iWatch that will likely enable all of these features with a sensor laden wearable.
“Based on the health information that iOS 8 is capable of reading, Apple’s wearable device will seemingly have sensors at least capable of measuring blood pressure, hydration, heart rate, and steps. iOS 8 combined with the iWatch is said to be able to monitor several other pieces of health and fitness data, but additional specifics are not as clear as of now.”
If this is the case, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple reveal some of the iOS 8 features we hear rumored, but also to keep the major iWatch connected features under wraps until the device arrives, or risk tipping their hand on new devices.
Mobile Payments Possible in iOS 8
Tim Cook spurred on the rumors of mobile payments in iOS 8 last month thanks to statements he made during the 2014 Q1 earnings call. Cook responded to a question about mobile payments saying,
“The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with. It was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID.” Eventually adding, “it’s clear that there’s a lot of opportunity there”
This isn’t the first time analysts predicted Apple would use mobile payments to let iPhone owners pay for physical goods with an iPhone, but with Touch ID and iBeacon rumblings iOS 8 could bring this to life in 2014.
According to the latest rumor, PayPal wants to work with Apple to make mobile payments a reality for iOS 8.
iOS 8 Release Details Easy to Predict
Apple will undoubtedly do a good job of keeping the iOS 8 details under wraps until it wants to share with the public. We will see a few leaks and rumors, but the company is good at keeping software items secret.
We do know that Apple will likely announce the iOS 8 update at WWDC 2014 and it is very likely going to happen in early June. It is possible that Apple will change things up, but history is on the side of an iOS 8 announcement this summer.
In 2010 Steve Jobs announced the change from iPhone OS to iOS, in 2011 iOS 5 arrived for developers, in 2012 iOS 6 debuted and in 2013 the revamped iOS 7 took center stage.
We won’t likely see the full list of iOS 8 features during this event, but a period of developer betas will show some additional features and a hardware announcement this fall will likely bring even more announcements.
Some features may not make the cut, even if Apple shows them off at WWDC. Apple delayed iCloud Keychain for a few weeks and is still working on bringing iOS in the Car to devices and vehicles more than half a year after showing it off at WWDC.
After a lengthy beta process we expect an iOS 8 release in the fall for the general public. In the past several years Apple timed the update to arrive several days before a new iPhone, so expect IOS 8 to land about two days before an iPhone 6 release in the U.S.