TORONTO – While many Apple fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the iPhone 6, some are just as excited to install the latest version of the tech giant’s mobile operating system – one that promises many big changes.
And though many of the features included on the new mobile operating system will be a departure from what long-time Apple users have come to know, some are drawing comparisons to features Android has offered for years.
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Here are the top five new features you will want to know about before downloading the new operating system.
One of the biggest changes in iOS 8 is the way notifications work.
Users are now able to choose an action for things like texts, emails, calendar events and even Facebook notifications right from the banner. For example, you can reply to a text message, or mark an email as “Read” or move it to the trash, right from the notification itself.
A double tap of the Home button will also reveal icons for your most recently talked to contacts – users can then tap on the contact for the option to call, text, or start a FaceTime call.
Apple’s new QuickType predictive keyboard is being touted as the “biggest change to the keyboard since the very first iPhone,” by the tech giant. However, predictive typing is a feature which has long been associated with competitor Android.
QuickType predicts what users are going to type next by offering a choice of words and phrases once the user starts writing their message. The choices are based on past conversations and commonly used phrases – which means the more you type, the more your iPhone will learn.
“iOS 8 takes into account the casual style you might use in Messages and the more formal language you probably use in Mail,” reads Apple’s website.
“It also adjusts based on the person you’re communicating with, because your choice of words is likely more laid back with your spouse than with your boss.”
This feature is likely to become much-loved by Apple users, as it is by Android users – so long as it doesn’t have as many “fails” as autocorrect.
Apple has also opened up the keyboard to developers for the first time, which means users will have the option to eventually install third-party keyboards – something Android already allows.
More options for messaging
Apple has focused a lot on making its Messages app more diverse with iOS 8.
Users will now be able to send pictures and videos faster, record and send audio, and even share their location on a map when sending iMessages. Apple also added the ability to send multiple pictures and videos at once.
For the location sharing feature, users will be able to share their location with contacts for as little as an hour, until the end of the day, or “indefinitely” – a feature that some may find a little invasive.
But the feature that seems to have users the most excited is the option to opt-out of group messages.
Apple did come under fire after unveiling the changes to Messages during its World Wide Developers Conference in June, after WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum pointed out some similarities between Apple’s new features and WhatsApp.
READ MORE: Apple unveils iOS 8, OS X Yosemite at WWDC
“Very flattering to see Apple “borrow” numerous WhatsApp features into iMessage in iOS 8 #innovation,” Koum tweeted in June, referencing the fact WhatsApp has allowed users to send voice clips since its inception.
Apple is likely trying to keep up with social apps like SnapChat, Kik, and WhatsApp, which boasts over 500 million active users.
Apple’s newest app, dubbed Health, compiles health and fitness information from various apps to display it all in one easy to read dashboard.
One cool feature users might want to take note of is the ability to create an “emergency card,” that lists important health information like blood type and medication allergies, which is available on the lock screen.
The introduction of iCloud Drive will be a big help to anyone who owns multiple Apple devices and likes to work on the go.
With iCloud drive users will have access to the latest versions of all of their documents – for example, if you edit a spreadsheet on your iPhone, the changes will be automatically made when you open it on your computer.
But Apple is late to the party with this one; Google has been offering the same service, called Google Drive, since 2012.
Bonus tip: Apple users who like to use digital assistant Siri take note: In iOS 8 you can now activate Siri by simply saying, “Hey Siri.”
How to get it
iOS 8 is compatible with iPhone 4S and later, iPad 2 and Later, iPad Mini and later, and the fifth generation iPod Touch.
While some users may be eager to upgrade right away, it’s important to note that the first version of iOS is often buggy and users may run into a few flaws or hiccups. Users with older devices may also notice their devices slow down when using the newest OS.
Users should always back up their device to iCloud or their computer before installing a new operating system, just in case anything goes wrong and data is lost. Apple offers instructions on backing up devices here.
Users will receive a notification right on their device when iOS 8 is available for download.
Just tap “Settings,” then “General,” then “Software Update” to download and install it.