Hands on with Apple's iOS 8 (pictures)

Summary:Apple's latest mobile operating system iOS 8 was unveiled at its annual developer conference. ZDNet takes it for a test drive to show you some of the new features.

Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, becomes the big brother in the Apple ecosystem.

Unveiled for the first time on Monday at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, Apple  lifted the lid on a number of feature additions to its mobile platform  — some of which are aesthetic, but many run to the core of the operating system.

Apple executive Craig Federighi, who heads up the company's software engineering helm, described the new features — many are designed to interact and communicate better with the Mac, including Continuity work sharing, a new Health app for activity and medical tracking, and a wealth of enterprise-focused features.

ZDNet explored some of the new features and functionality of iOS8, and gave it a test-drive following the announcement.

Though some of the features highlighted during the keynote are not yet available — such as iCloud Drive, a competitor to Dropbox and other file-storage services — additional components are expected to land in the coming weeks and months before its September-October launch date.

Here are the cherry-picked best features, and how they work.

The first screens you'll see: the lock screen and home screen. Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

iOS 8 lands with mostly the same user experience as its immediate predecessor, iOS 7, following its massive overhaul of the interface. Sporting a new background wallpaper, there are a couple of additions. You'll note a small icon in the lower-left corner, which allows the user to carry on their work from their Mac, running the latest OS X 10.10 version, like documents and image editing.

Siri now recognizes the songs you're listening to. Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

Siri now lands with Shazam music recognition, which includes the ability to buy the song (if it's available) from the iTunes Store, benefiting both companies. Just hold down the Home button and ask Siri, "what am I listening to?" and the voice-activated assistant will do the rest.

The Camera app has a new self-timer of three or ten seconds. Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

A useful, long-time missed feature in the Camera app now lands with a self-timer, allowing you take pictures at a three- or ten-second delay.

The Photos app now has an intelligence search function. Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive

The Photos app has also seen improvements (more on that later), and now includes a search feature to help you nail down that particular moment in time. However, it seems to works best with geotagging enabled. A fully-fledged desktop version of the Photos app will be coming to the Mac in 2015, according to Apple.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone


Zack Whittaker is a writer-editor for ZDNet, and sister sites CNET and CBS News. He is based in the New York newsroom. His PGP key is: EB6CEEA5.

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