14 features we want to see in iOS 8

Apple's next-generation mobile software is expected to land on devices in September, along with a new iPhone. Here are some of the improvements and features we hope to see.
By Zack Whittaker, Contributor
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Group video calling over FaceTime

FaceTime saw some considerable improvements with iOS 7, not least the addition to free audio-only calling.  This will no doubt chip away at Skype's already strong success with free video and voice calling. But one thing remains to be seen: group video chat. Currently one-to-one only, having the ability to add more than one person to a chat would significantly chip away at the competition, while improving the iPhone and iPad's marketability for even casual video callers.

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Healthbook: Fitness and exercise tracking

Rumors spinning out of Cupertino suggest the next big thing out of the iPhone and iPad maker could be a health and fitness tracker, dubbed Healthbook. Based on some of the rumors and leaks, it could tie in with a long-awaited iWatch device, which records the activities you do on a daily basis and help you improve your general wellbeing. Numerous reports have pointed to Apple executives meeting with federal officials in efforts to develop mobile medical-related apps.

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Hide, remove default apps

Many businesses offer their own sideloaded apps that effectively replace the pre-installed apps on the iPhone or iPad. But for general consumers — and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) customers — it would make more sense to allow IT managers to remove unnecessary apps. Many apps that exist on iOS 7 as they stand today are quickly replaced by third-party apps from the App Store.

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New Touch ID fingerprint features

Touch ID, the feature that allows you to unlock your iPhone 5s with a fingerprint, can also be used to download apps from the App Store without entering your password each time. This functionality could be expanded further to third-party apps and other features, such as access to email, contacts, and other personal information. 

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Expanded Do Not Disturb functionality

While Do Not Disturb allows you to effectively unplug from your Apple smartphone or tablet while letting in important calls from friends, family, or colleagues, it remains relatively limited in its functionality. It would be remiss of Apple not to plug a little attention to the little-known feature, particularly for business customers. 

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More improvements to Apple Maps

Apple Maps remains the troubled child in the Google Maps divorce in iOS 6. Once the company broke away from its search engine friend to create its own mapping service, many were left disappointed and angered by the massive lapses in data, locations, and features. It's come a long way since Apple publicly apologized for the software gaffes, but still has some way to go before it can be on a par with its since-ditched rival. 

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iWallet: Mobile payments with NFC

Though this relies very much on the hardware being available, almost every major smartphone has near-field communications (NFC) technology, which allows users to tap their phone against a reader to pay for products of low value. Apple could take great advantage of its strong smartphone position to really push the moderately-used technology to the next chapter, while increasing overall convenience for its users. 

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Granular settings in Control Center

Control Center allows users to switch on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other settings at the flick of a switch. But not everyone uses the five settings that are available. To some surprise, Control Center wasn't given granular options. In iOS 8, allowing users to select and choose what they want to activate at a swipe and a touch of a button would be highly desired by many.

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Set downloaded apps as default

After the Apple Maps disaster, many bailed on the program and downloaded significantly better rival apps. There's a lesson in there: Apple can't control the monopoly on its apps anymore, and should instead embrace its own ever-expanding App Store by allowing users to set default applications. There's hope that Apple will eventually allow this, especially within existing apps, such as the default Mail client. 

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Battery monitoring functionality

iPhones have typically always suffered with one major problem: poor battery life. Although, each iteration of the popular smartphone is getting better and better, with the latest iPhone 5s managing at most 10 hours talk time. What Android and Windows Phone devices have that iOS devices do not is a battery monitor that would allow users to swipe away some of the more power-hungry apps.

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Quick replies on lock screen

If you're a little more relaxed about security, you might want to have the ability to reply from your home or lock screen. It's a small time saving measure that some would prefer, but because of the security and privacy implications it should be a feature that can be switched off.

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Forget printing: Add Print to PDF

Who prints from their iPhone or iPad? Very few. What would be a handy feature, particularly for business customers who work on the go from their iPads especially, would be to print to PDF. It's already featured on the Mac and other office suite software, and considering how much time we spend on our phones and tablets, it's notably absent.

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Expand iMessage to external accounts, Yahoo, Gmail

Again from the desktop to the iPhone and iPad, Apple's own messaging system is highly popular but only on the Mac can you get iMessages along with your Gmail and Yahoo contacts. Expanding it out to mobile devices would help improve productivity and continuity across the desktop and mobile ecosystem.

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Longer passcode by default

iOS 7 currently provides two kinds of password security on the lock screen: A complex alphanumeric password, or a simple four-digit PIN code. Many owners don't want to use the longer alphanumeric password, because after a while it becomes tiresome. While there is a "hidden" longer numerical-only code option, it's difficult to find and many do not know about it. Doubling the simple four-digit PIN code to eight digits, would vastly improve security and simplicity for the end user. 

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