Hands on with Apple's iOS 8 (pictures)

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.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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, iPhone, iPad

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  • Notification Center

    "Receive a message within an app? You can swipe down on the notification and reply without having to leave the app you're in."

    Copied from BlackBerry 10.
    • The "Copied" meme...

      The "somebody else did it first" comments will be inevitable. The question is: Did somebody else do it as well, as simply, and integrated into as compelling a system of devices, software and services? Blackberry clearly does not pass this test.
      • So you tried the Blackberry 10 version...

        ...Or you just know its not done as well because?
      • No, not a meme

        The fact that you don't agree with something doesn't make it a meme. Apple have clearly copied some concepts here (and not for the first time), sure they'll tweak those ideas because with hindsight it's often easy to make improvements. This happens all the time in every industry and is nothing to be ashamed of.

        What Apples should be ashamed of is their hypocrisy, this type of shameless copying after lawsuits over 'slide to unlock', rounded corners etc makes Apple look like a dishonest, lying, conniving thieving bully - which is probably accurate.
        • Android and Blackberry just copying Apple style GUI

          Windows with its Metro uses pure idea, not stealing. (Apple includes the 1st Mac)
      • But I have switched to Android

        Apple is like super vain - looks in the mirror for years admiring the good looks while the world passes it by.
      • You mean....

        You mean since someone did it first Apple is playing catch up again, not that they have improved it.
      • Does it really matter?

        many people invented different wheels at some point time. each had their pros and cons, and everyone stumbled across the other's later in history, and took good ideas they saw to incorporate into their own.

        This made everybody's wheels better.

        Same goes with smartphones, I would have to believe.
    • Blackberry deserves its fate.

      Nobody cares about Blackberry anymore. They didn't improve their products for many years, because they figured they were the only game in town. The iPhone and Android phones ate their lunch by vastly improving the user experience and removing the need for a server. Blackberry rocketed to the bottom of the smart phone heap as a result. Their efforts to finally make something decent after losing the vast majority of their customers is just too little too late. Keep hanging onto the past, but Blackberry isn't going to last no matter what features they add to their phones. Like the Netscape browser many years ago, they reacted to a huge threat by arrogantly believing they were unsinkable. Well, the joke's on them. Everyone with any sense has abandoned that ship.
      • Why bother to do anything new

        I keep hearing people talk with enthusiasm about new Smart Phone OS's like Tizen and others. Why do they bother?

        For the life of me I can't understand why people like iOS so much. I've used it and just get frustrated with the limitations and money grubbing control that Apple applies. When you talk about Android, which venders version are you talking about? How ridiculous it is to have to download an Outlook.com app to get Contacts and Calendar Sync and then on top of that, have to download a contact editing app to be able to edit your contacts. What a mess. WP, how simple and childish can you get? Look at me, I'm shiny and have flashing blocks.

        BlackBerry 10 isn't perfect, but wow, it is so much better than iOS, WP and Android. It's hard to describe how the flow and operation of it is so much a better experience. It really is the best for people that were big Palm users, that's how I ended up with it, nothing else works as well. I understand the ecosystem is not as broad, which is a huge factor for many.

        There are always products and industries that get stale and something else comes along to replace it. Almost no tech products or companies stay on top forever.
        John Hanks
        • Apple are "money grubbing"?

          In iOS 8 MAC addresses will be dynamic so companies - like Google - won't be able to follow you around flashing "targeted" ads on rubbish bins.

          Apple don't read your email and sell your user profile to to third parties, unlike Google. Google subsidises everything they do with advertising: I'd prefer to pay a little more to avoid all that rubbish. (I even pay for free apps is they have ad-free counterparts.)

          As for the limitation you see in iOS, it doesn't bother most people and inter-app communication is being completely overhauled on iOS 8.
  • Apple's intelligence QuickType keyboard

    Also copied from BlackBerry 10
    • copied

      ((( "Apple's intelligence QuickType keyboard... also copied from BlackBerry 10" )))

      And BlackBerry 10 is largely copied from iOS, only five years too late.
    • Who cares...

      What is most important is timing with gamechangers. Apple was there to integrate the touch screen in the iphone while Blackberry users just tickled a pearl ball.

      Now Blackberry crawls its way to some hail Mary OS and comes up with some minor feature that wasn't done by Apple first. Who really cares? Matching the feature simply makes the Blackberry even more irrelevant than they are are.

      Google and Apple are simply smacking each other while one/two-ing Blackberry unintentionally out of its complete misery in the smartphone ring. Windows Phone is running around in the ring talking smack about how it will be there to give some arse-whooping to the both of them soon. The count is at 8 and going to 10 for BB. May it rest in peace.
  • Spotlight

    Spotlight, iOS 8's native in-built search facility, can now not only search the Web and Wikipedia, but also check out local restaurants near your location, check movie times, and search locations on the map — as well as look for apps and music that you might want to download.

    Another BlackBerry 10 feature that found it's way to Apple.

    No wonder Apple hired away their software SVP from BlackBerry, after he said that BlackBerry is more innovative than Apple.
    • What's your point?

      Companies borrow ideas from each other all the time. It's not one or a handful of features that make a device superior, but the whole package. There must be a reason why Apple dethroned Blackberry. At one point in time their phones were unique--then they got copied. If Apple comes up with a really cool and useful feature, you can be sure that their competitors won't be far behind with something similar.
      • some

        Some borrow ideas, others have to pay billions on lawsuit, because the one of then have the rights to use round corners on a phone, hehehe, hilarious.
      • Borrow?

        When Apple does it you they call it "borrowing". When someone else does it to them, it's called "theft"
      • Hypocrisy

        The issue is that Apple sues other companies that "borrow ideas" (using your words) from Apple products. If Apple sues others for this, why is it "borrowing ideas"?
        • Borrowing and theft

          When you take an obvious idea, like Amazon's "1-click" purchasing, you could argue that anyone should be able to use it because of prior art. (Still, most companies, including Apple and MS pay Amazon for this absurdity.)

          When Samsung copy an Apple device, right down to the box, the inserts and the manual, that's a violation of trade dress, a fact that's been proved in courts all over the world except South Korea. (When I saw my sister's first Samsung, I said "I thought you weren't buying a Samsung." I was confused by Samsung's slavish copying of Apple's packaging and hardware.)

          Now we have Samsung S5 selling for the same price as Apple 5S with inferior GUIs, slower, quad-core processors and joke fingerprint scanners that don't even store biometric data in a safe place, like Apple's secure enclave,

          The Apple is a better deal. If you don't like iOS 7 then wait for iOS 8, which will run on your iPhone. (Trying getting an OS upgrade without rooting your phone, or even intervening at all, on a Samsang. What were the uptake rates? Apple had 95+% uptake to iOS 7 in five days, while Samsung had under 10% OS uptake after five months.)