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Apple Introduces New Features on iOS 8

Improvements to notifications, email and Spotlight searches are expected.


Apple used its annual developers conference to show where it is going next with its mobile operating system, including health care and home automation features, as well as an effort to make iOS and Mac devices work more closely together.

Also shown off Monday were new features for messaging and notifications, a way for iOS apps to talk to one another and long-requested support of third-party keyboards.

Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook took some shots at Google’s rival Android mobile platform, noting just 9 percent of Android users have upgraded to the new KitKat software — compared with 89 percent of Apple’s installed base running the current version of iOS.

Many of the 130 million new first-time Apple customers are people switching from Android to an iOS device, Cook said.

“They sought a better experience and a better life, and decided to switch to iOS,” Cook said, adding nearly half of its customers in China switched from the Android platform.

The new version of the mobile software, iOS 8, boasts a new way for users to interact with notifications — text messages, calendar updates or Facebook posts — without launching individual apps. A notification appears at the top of the device, the user can just pull down to respond.

An updated email feature allows users to set aside the message they’re writing with a downward swipe to retrieve information from another document.

New facets of messaging allow people to better manage group messages — allowing individuals to flick a “do not disturb” button when a noisy thread keeps the phone buzzing. Within any conversation, users can now record video messages that can be shared — or even video.

The mobile software supports updates to the Spotlight search feature incorporated in the new OS X desktop operating system, Yosemite. The search will look more broadly to retrieve apps that are related to the inquiry, but not necessarily downloaded to the device, or fetch information contained from Wikipedia.

The enhanced keyboard improves on Apple’s predictive type, with auto-correct suggesting words to complete messages that are aware of context. When sending a message to colleagues about a meeting, it’ll suggest related words such as “canceled” or “rescheduled.”

IOS 8 takes better advantage of iCloud, allowing users to pull up documents, edit them and have the revised document returned to its original location. An enhanced photo feature automatically sends photos and any edits to iCloud so they can be stored remotely and accessed from any device.

Stored photos will count against a user’s iCloud storage, with Apple continuing to offer five gigabytes free. It is also adding lower-cost paid options including 20GB for 99 cents per month, and 200GB for $3.99 per month.

A companion Photos app for the Mac was previewed on Monday but is not due out until next year.

Apple also offered new options for developers selling their apps in the App Store, allowing developers to bundle packages of software and offer video previews of their apps to prospective buyers (much like Kickstarter does for those trying to raise money for a project).

It also enhanced the tools available to developers to write code, adding a “metal” option for game makers to write 3-D games that tie more directly to iOS hardware, and Swift, an all-new programming language.

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