Apple’s WWDC was jam-packed with announcements about iOS 8 and Apple's new programming language, Swift. Due in the fall, there are some big new headlining features, but there are also plenty of little features and enhancements that iOS fans didn't get to see on stage. Here are 12 of them.
Previously if you wanted to message someone a picture you had recently taken, you would have to click the picture icon and then choose “photo library,” even if you knew it was the last photo you took. Now, with iOS 8, when you send a picture in messages, you’ll also see the last few pictures you’ve taken.
The little search engine that could is joining the big leagues. DuckDuckGo is a small but fierce competitor to Google search, but its focus on protecting users' information and allowing anonymous searching has struck a chord with users. Speaking of search, Spotlight search is more high-profile in both design and functionality, and Bing even got a mention with its translation extension in Safari. Apple seems to be putting the squeeze on Google and giving users every alternative available.
Since video previews will be showing up in the App Store soon, it only makes sense that there would be an easy way to screen-capture apps in use. You’ll be able to perform the function by connecting an iOS 8 device to a Mac running OS X Yosemite and using QuickTime to record what’s happening on the iPhone’s screen.
This is actually a real boon for frequent travelers who might want to pack an Apple TV and use it on the road. IOS 8 will now allow AirPlay to function in a peer to peer mode. Previously you needed to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV, but now no Wi-Fi network is required. This feature seems to be aimed at enterprise users; instead of buying an expensive projector, many companies have been moving toward the smaller and less expensive Apple TV for presentations. Not having to have a Wi-Fi network present only makes impromptu meetings easier.
Most of the time, if a mobile optimized site isn’t performing the way it should a user spends a good chunk of their time hunting for the “desktop site” button. The new version of Safari will help with this by adding a “Request Desktop Site” button alongside the bookmarks.
Photo album folders were a new thing in iOS 7, but soon there will a new and extremely handy one: A “Recently deleted” album available to users. This un-Apple-like safety net may be a result of iCloud’s improved photo management.
Recommending the use of certain apps based on a user's location could turn out to be a huge promotional feature, but for now Apple just seems to be experimenting with it. Say you walk into Starbucks, with the store’s app already on your phone; you’ll see a tiny Starbucks icon on the bottom left side of the lock screen. To get to it directly, you just flick up, similarly to the quick camera function. Apple had toyed with recommending apps based on location in the App Store, but this is much more likely to increase engagement with apps. It could also help users with hundreds of apps remember to use the ones they have.
Another potentially huge feature is the ability to make calls over Wi-Fi. This could all but guarantee every iPhone user will be able to reliably make a call in their own home. The only problem standing in the way? The user’s carrier needs to support the feature, so as of today only T-Mobile customers will get the benefit. Hopefully more carriers jump on board before launch.
As cool and useful as the predictive text bar will be right above the keyboard in iOS 8, you just might not want it sometimes. It can be turned off, but instead of some menu item, just swipe it down to close it.
This is a feature Android users love to rave about. It’s incredibly helpful to be able to dig down and see exactly which apps are causing battery problems and which are doing just fine. You could previously see general battery stats, but now you’ll be able to see how much energy each app is using.
Just like per-app battery usage, finer control over location services is a welcome addition in iOS 8. It's nice that you can turn location services on or off on a per-app basis, but sometimes that's too ham-fisted. The new options will be to turn location services on or off per app, as well as “only when using the app.” That means that an app can still use GPS and location when you open it, but not once you close it.
Just like using the camera to scan an iTunes gift card was handy addition, it looks like Safari will gain the trick as well. There’s a screen shot of Safari prompting to scan a credit card as an input method, rather than have to manually enter it on checkout while shopping.
[Image: Flickr user Keng Susumpow]