A new version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system is always hot news. And if Apple is to be believed, then the latest version of iOS, dubbed the very unimaginative iOS 8, is going to be the biggest update that the mobile operating system has ever gotten.
Why is it so special? Well it’s not the huge visual overhaul we saw when iOS 7 came out, rather, iOS 8 focuses more on ‘under-the-hood’ changes that will make the overall experience of iDevices even better. We already know that iDevices are buttery smooth because of iOS, so what exactly does iOS 8 bring to the table?
First of all, iOS users will be finally getting a taste of widget goodness that Android users have enjoyed for so long. But since Apple is Apple, the widgets in iOS 8 aren’t going to be homescreen elements. Rather, they’ll be an addition to the notification center where users will be able to interact with them to interact with their corresponding apps. For example, a weather widget could show the latest weather updates, an eBay widget could show the highest bid on an item you’re interested in and so on.
When Apple introduced TouchID last year, they promised that this would be an important part of the iOS experience. This year, they’re actually proving it. iOS 8 will come with something called ‘HomeKit’, which will make it easier for developers to focus on home automation. And TouchID coupled with Siri will really take things to the next level here. You will be able to use TouchID to securely access the controls for your home, and with Siri you could easily give commands that would do the required job. For example, saying “I’m going to sleep” could switch off all the lights and lock all the doors. HomeKit is an exciting addition to iOS.
Of course, we all know the obsession with health-tracking devices these days, and for that Apple have introduced ‘HealthKit’ in iOS 8. HealthKit will automatically track all of your vitals in one place from whatever fitness tracker devices you connect to your iOS device. From there it will be able to report to medical apps if anything looks out of place. Messaging has also gotten subtle tweaks as you can now send voice messages to any contact through the messaging app. There’s also a details page for every conversation thread that will enlist all of the media shared between the contact and you in that conversation thread. This will save the need for scrolling up a conversation just to find a single picture.
Gaming has also been given special attention for iOS 8, as Apple have introduced a new 3D rendering engine especially for it called ‘Metal’. Before the official announcement we thought Metal would be a new design language for the interface but turns out it’s a vastly improved rendering engine for iOS 8. Apple say that it will be able to render things up to 10 times faster than before. If that’s true then iOS’s already strong gaming ability will get even better.
iOS 8 doesn’t look like it has changed much from iOS 7, at least when you look at its interface. That said though, the interface did not need a change anyway, it looks pretty good. What iOS 8 really is though, is a collection of small and big tweaks that will make iOS an even bigger force to be reckoned with. We don’t know what Google’s planning in retaliation to this major offensive, but they had better pull out the good stuff because with this announcement the ball is in Google’s court.