Apple has officially revealed the latest update to the iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 8. Among a number of critical changes, the most important are Health and Health Kit; significant improvements to SMS, texting, and typing in any app; and a new system for sharing all media called Family Sharing. A number of major improvements to the Enterprise service have also been added.

The Apple Health App

First is Health, an app and service that tracks users’ health statistics for personal use. Many wearable technologies, like the Fitbit Flex, offer apps that report users’ important information, but there are many different devices with just as many different apps reporting different metrics, with no singular way to view the data. Apple has built the Health app to do it all. No matter which wearable device, app, or service users prefer, app developers can integrate that data straight into Health so that users can evaluate all of their data in one place.

iHealth

Apple Health Kit App

Along with Health is Health Kit, an app for personal health care that connects to a number of different health care services and providers. Imagine pacemakers capable of communicating through users’ iOS devices directly to their physicians. If they experience a problem, their iOS device can ensure that their doctors know about it before they even pick up the phone—or worse.

Apple upgrades SMS, iMessage and typing

Apple has also significantly upgraded the way that SMS, iMessage, and general text writing works. Firstly, all SMS messages are now visible on Mac; more importantly, however, iMessage now supports video, voice, and group messaging features like adding members, muting, leaving, and booting. Ever received a group SMS and couldn’t get out? Apple has just solved that problem.

This is remarkably important. I’ve gone so far as to help build several apps capable of these functions because SMS and messaging with so many people has gotten so time-consuming and annoying due to its inflexibility. iMessage now poses a tremendous threat to major apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Snapchat, and others.

Family Share

Apple introduces family sharing for content

Finally, Family Sharing is a one-stop shop to share everything with up to five family members (six group members in total). One of the biggest problems that users have had is sharing content. If users want to watch a movie with friends or family, they would have to watch it on a small screen or have an Apple TV handy to stream. For families, that’s tough because no one can share content directly, only indirectly. With iOS 8, now everyone in the family can share music, books, apps, TV shows, and movies. It’s still unclear whether that means that little Timmy can get Infinity Blade III if Mom buys it on the App Store, but it does mean that if Timmy does want to buy it, his phone will automatically ask a parent’s device for permission instead of just accepting the charge.

Reminders, location data, photos, and more apps will also share data through Family Sharing; if users want to share a shopping list, spy on family members, or do something a bit more constructive, that’s all available in iOS 8.

iOS 8 will release this fall and will support the iPhone 4S and up and the iPad 2 and up. What features are you looking forward to, or hoping that Apple will add before the release date?


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