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iOS 8 officially unveiled with HealthKit focus

iOS 8 has been officially unveiled during Apple’s WWDC 2014 keynote, bring an range of new features to the mix including the heavily tipped HealthKitapp.

A sizeable update on last year’s iOS 7 offering, iOS brings a mass of new accessibility features to the mix, with an improved Notifications menu set to land alongside improved contacts access, new Safari features and a range of Mail improvements.

We are not standing still, today we are announcing iOS 8,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in unveiling the new iPhone and iPad software.

He added: “iOS 8 is a giant release and it is two stories not one. It has great user features but it also has great developer features.”

Detailing the benefits of the new software, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi added: “iOS 8 build on iOS 7 with new features for iPhone and iPad.”

iOS 8 Features
Having been the subject of multiple rumours, Apple has lived up to expectations, bringing a comprehensive health and fitness catalogue to iOS 8 in the form of HealthKit.

“Developers have created a wide range of health care devices and accompanying devices,” Federighi stated. “Everything from monitoring your activity level, your heart rate, to your weight and chronic medical conditions like diabetes.”

He added: “Up to now the information gathered by those applications lives in silos, you can’t get a single comprehensive picture of your health situation. But now you can with HealthKit.

HealthKit provides a single place where applications can create a comprehensive wellbeing and health.

As well as bringing data from all manner of fitness apps and trackers together, helping you form a more comprehensive and overarching view of your overall wellbeing, the HealthKit hub is joined by a separate dedicated app, Health.

Health is Apple’s own fitness monitor, offering all the standard data metrics such as distances walks, calorie burn and activity times.

With Apple suggesting a number of high profile fitness app makers are already working to integrate the new HealthKit features, the company has singled out Nike as one such partner. The HealhKit benefits will seemingly work both ways, helping the Nike app better attune your health goals based on your overall fitness feedback.

“We think this is going to be really important to healthcare,” Apple’s Software Engineer stated.

As well as the HealthKit showpiece, iOS 8 will bring a range of new ease of use features to its new mobile software.

Kicking off with the platform’s most used service, Messages, Apple will add a range of new features. Letting users name individual threads, the revised Messages app will also let you add or remove members of a thread at will or set Do Not Disturb markers on threads on an individual basis.

With the Messages service also set to support from simple location sharing and Tap to Talk voice messages, the app is just one of many which will benefit from the new iOS keyboard – QuickType.

Now, in iOS 8 QuickType supports predictive typing corrections,” Federighi stated. “You can type things out quicker than ever before and it is context sensitive.”

Much like the predictive services found on many Android device, Apple’s QuickType keyboard looks set to take things to a more advanced level.

“It is personalised and it learns how you type to different people in different apps,” Federighi said. “It learns how you type and it does so in a way that is protecting your privacy, none of the keystrokes leave your device.”

With Spotlight improvements offering easier searching of points of interest, news, restaurants and songs, iOS 8 will also add the same iCloud Drive features as those heading to the new Mac OS X Yosemite OS.

A Cloud storage system, iCloud Drive lets you remote store a range of documents, syncing them across all your Apple products and even accessing them on Windows machines.

Further introductions include Family Sharing. Letting households with multiple Apple devices share content, Family Sharing allows up to six devices receive all the same downloaded iTunes content, as long as the accounts are attributed to the same credit card.

Mail is another app set for significant updates in iOS 8. The standard email application will offer easier cataloguing, with a single swipe now capable of setting messages as important.

Further iOS 8 features set to feature include 22 additional input languages for Siri, improved Safari tab viewing and better continuity features between your iPhone and iPad.

Finally, the Notification Centre is set for a major overhaul. “New interactive noifications, let you reply from right where you are, no need to leave apps,” Federighi stated.

This means you don’t need to jump in and out of applications to reply to Tweets or texts. Users will soon be able to do this direct from the drop down bar. The Notification Centre will even add widgets moving forward, with Apple’s new Dev features allowing more immersive features to the drop down menu for the first time.

Where double tapping the home button used to offer your most recently used apps, this feature has been bolstered by the introduction of your most frequently accessed contacts.

iOS 8 Release Date and Compatibility
Although an exact date of arrival has yet to be detailed, Apple has confirmed that the iOS 8 release date will be held this autumn.

“iOS 8 is going to be available in Beta today,” Federighi said. “It will be available for everyone in the fall.”

Devices set to benefit from an iOS 8 release date include the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S as well as the 5th generation iPod touch.

Sadly, the iPhone 4 will not be making the jump. On the tablet side of things, all iPads from the iPad 2 onwards, including both mini offerings, will join the iOS 8 revolution.

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