We all knew it was coming: Apple has revealed the newest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 8, at its Worldwide Developers Conference today. One of the biggest new features? HealthKit.
Though it was originally thought to be called HealthBook, HealthKit is a new bit of software that compiles and aggregates all the data from various health-related apps on your iPhone or iPad, and puts them all in the new Health app. From there, you’ll be able to see all the data recorded by your various different apps, like the ones from Nike, or from the Mayo Clinic. Sadly missing from the presentation – at least, as of this writing – is any news about the iPhone 6 or the iWatch, each of which are expected to have built-in biometric sensing technology that should work directly with HealthKit.
But HealthKit wasn’t the only new feature debuted for iOS 8 – and chances are good we’ll get more information about that app once the aforementioned iOS 8 devices are unveiled later this year. Among the new features added to iOS 8 are new abilities for the Notification Center. Now, you’ll be able to take actions via the Notification Center without having to leave whatever app you’re using. So, for instance, if you get text or calendar invitation while you’re browsing Facebook, you can swipe down from the top of the screen and reply to your messages or accept or deny an invitation.
The Mail app for iOS 8 has also gotten a small, but helpful tweak. If you’re composing an email, but need to access a different email, you can swipe it down to check through your inbox. The message will wait there until you’re ready to revisit it. And just as OS X Yosemite got new Continuity features to link your iOS devices, iOS 8 also adds in Hand-Off so you can start and stop what you’re doing between your devices. So if you start an email on your iPad, you can pick up where you left off on your Mac, and vice versa.
Messages have gotten some upgrades too: there’s a new Do Not Disturb switch, so you can silence particular conversations, as well as integrated audio, video, and photo-sending options.
There’s also a new Family Sharing feature that will give users the ability to share their Apple accounts with up to six family members. That will give shared access to purchased media and games – and will also prompt subsidiary accounts to ask permission from the main account holder before buying new apps or games. That’s pretty huge for iOS users who have been unhappy with kids making purchases without their knowledge.
The Photo app for iOS 8 also got an upgrade, giving more control over the quality and color of photos taken with iPads and iPhones. Those photos go straight to all devices via iCloud, giving users even more control and access over their media. Shipping early next year, a new, updated Photos application will also be coming to the Mac, all based on the new features being baked into the iOS version of the app. It’ll give users much more easy control over making edits to their photos, a pretty powerful feature considering it’s not coming via anything from Adobe or Autodesk.
Siri is getting a bit of an upgrade too. If you plug your iPhone into your car, you can talk to Siri without having to touch a button. Siri will also have built-in Shazam song recognition, so if you activate Siri while a song is playing, it’ll guess at what you’re hearing. And with streaming voice recognition and 22 new dictation languages, Apple says that Siri will be more powerful in general.
More to come as WWDC continues…