What's new in Apple's iOS 8
APPLE'S latest mobile operating system was released two weeks ago, with a bumper crop of features.
The Straits Times' Digital Life explores its highlights:
This is the most popular app on iOS, so Apple says. It lets users message fellow users using Wi-Fi or data, but users can switch to a cellular network to SMS when data or Wi-Fi are not available, or if the recipient is not an iOS user.
The updated Messages app lets you send audio and video messages as well, without leaving the app.
Look for the Camera icon on the left of the messages bar (bottom of the screen) and the Microphone icon on the right.
When you hold down the Microphone icon, this brings up a quadrant with an arrow and an X. Record your voice message, then send it by tapping the arrow. Or tap on the X to discard the message.
For a video message, tap on the Camera icon, swipe to video mode, shoot a short video and send it.
By default, video and audio messages expire after two minutes and will not take up space on your iPhone. But you or the party you called can opt to keep the message.
Tap on Details (at the top right-hand corner in a conversation) and you can send your location to a friend.
NOTIFICATION CENTRE WIDGETS
Extensibility is a major feature of iOS 8. In essence, Extensibility allows third-party extensions, thereby bringing third-party widgets, keyboards, photo filters and custom sharing to iOS 8.
In Android devices, widgets are sited on the Home screen, like any other app. So you have to swipe through pages to get to a particular widget. In iOS8, all the widgets are housed in the Notification Centre.
This means you need only swipe down from the top of any screen to bring up the Notification Centre and access your widgets.
To add widgets to your Notification Centre, swipe down on the Notification Centre's Today panel to find the Edit bar. Tap on it. All apps that can be added as widgets will be listed, each next to a green dot containing a plus sign. Tap on the dot to add the app.
For instance, if you set the Yahoo Weather app as a widget, you will be able to see the weather forecast at a glance. You can also set up reminders or lists straight from Evernote when it is set as a widget.
QUICKTYPE AND THIRD-PARTY KEYBOARDS
iOS 8 comes with the QuickType Keyboard, Apple's free, built-in predictive keyboard, which learns your typing pattern. I found it really good in anticipating what I want to type.
In Messages conversations, it will prompt you according to the context. If you get a "Haha" message, QuickType will offer you "LOL" or a smiley emoticon as an option.
Alternatively, you can install third-party predictive keyboards such as SwiftKey (free), Fleksy ($1.28) or Swype ($1.28). The downside of such keyboards is that some developers require full access to your keyboard, so whatever you type will be transmitted to them. This lets them sync your typing pattern to multiple devices.
With QuickType, the information stays on the device and no data is sent to Apple. SwiftKey is among the many developers which say that no sensitive information is transmitted.
To install a third-party keyboard that you have purchased, go to Settings> General> Keyboard> Keyboards. At Add Keyboard, you will find SwiftKey or Swype available. Tap on the item to add it as one of the keyboards you can use.
Of the three third-party keyboards I have tested so far, Swype is the best. It lets you skim across the virtual keyboard instead of making you type out every word, and it usually gets what you want and predicts intelligently.
That said, I still prefer using the QuickType Keyboard, as I am more used to tapping.
PHOTO EDITING AND FILTERS
Yes, your Camera Roll is gone from the Photos app. But all your pictures are still in your iPhone, just sorted differently.
In the app, you will see three folders: Photos, Shared and Albums. If you disable Photo Sharing, you will not see the Shared folder.
In the Photos folder, you will see Moments. This holds the latest photos you have taken.
Tap the top-right corner and you will get into Collections, where your photos are sorted by geographic location and date.
Here, tap the top-left corner again and you get Years, where you will find all photos sorted by year.
Inside the Albums folder are the albums you have added, along with Recently Added, Slo-mo and Recently Deleted.
Recently Deleted holds deleted pictures for 30 days, or until you delete them again in this folder. This gives you a chance to recover photos you may have deleted accidentally.
But the biggest change is that you can edit your photos right here using third-party photo apps or filters - such as PaperCamera, Halftone 2 or Litely - which you have downloaded - all without leaving the Photos app.
First, add these photo apps and filters to the editing panel of Photos. Select any picture and tap Edit (top-right corner of the screen). Tap the circle icon beside Done on the bottom bar and tap on More. You will be able to turn on the available third-party photo apps here.
Once turned on, the filters will show up when you tap the circle icon again during photo editing.
Earlier versions of iOS allowed sharing of notes, pictures or websites by e-mail or text message. But you could not add extensions. Now, you can share all of them with third-party applications.
To this end, iOS 8 lets you customise the Share Sheet menu.
Go to any app, say Photos, and tap on the Share icon (square containing an upward arrow). In the second row of the resulting window, you will see a button, More.
Tap on this and a window showing the available apps to be activated will appear.
When Evernote is activated in the Share Sheet menu, for example, it lets you share native Notes documents directly with Evernote, instead of requiring you to copy and paste the information.