Apple on Wednesday announced that iOS 8 will be available for the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini and the iPad mini with Retina display, starting September 17.
However, Apple states that SMS Continuity will be available as a free update to iOS 8 in October, and that iCloud Photo Library will be made available as a beta at around the same time. Additionally, Apple Pay will also be available in the US as a free update to iOS 8 starting October for the recently announced iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Interestingly, the iOS 8 Golden Master edition is already available via the iOS Developer Center.
(Also see: 10 New iOS 8 Features)
The iOS 8 update brings new features for Messages and Photos app, predictive typing for Apple's QuickType keyboard, Family Sharing, the new Health app and iCloud Drive. "We're excited for hundreds of millions of users to begin experiencing iOS 8, with incredible features that offer new ways to use your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering. "iOS 8 also creates an extraordinary environment for developers, providing them the ability to create amazing new apps like never before."
(Also see: Apple Launches iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus)
Messages app is overhauled in iOS 8 to now feature a tap to share voice, photos and videos. Users can now share multiple photos and videos at once, and browse through all of them within a conversation from one place. Group messaging gets the ability to add and remove contacts, and the option not to be disturbed or to leave a conversation entirely. One can also choose to share their current location from within Messages for an hour, a day or longer.
In the Photos app, Apple had added tweaks which allow photos to automatically straighten horizons, and using updated editing tools a user can quickly adjust light and colour with a swipe. For deeper fine-tuning, a user can access individual tools to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and more.
Even the keyboard has received an update where it understands the way users communicate to suggest favourite phrases enabling them to type entire sentences with a few taps. Additionally, what the QuickType keyboard learns is kept private, encrypted on your device and never sent to the could. Third-party keyboards are also available, so developers can offer additional layouts and input methods system-wide.
The new Health app gathers the information from the app or fitness device of the user's choice and presents a combined overview in a single place. Users will be able to gather and monitor their own fitness metrics using apps such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and Strava. HomeKit connects home devices seamlessly with Apple devices to better manage accessories like lights, thermostats, door locks and garage doors.
(In comparison: iPhone 6 Plus versus iPhone 6 versus iPhone 5s versus iPhone 5c)
Family Sharing with iOS 8 claims to make it easier communicate and share purchases. It automatically keeps everyone connected by creating a shared family photo stream and calendar, and provides an option to locate family members and their devices.
Continuity features in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite bring Mac and iOS devices together. When the iPhone or iPad is near a Mac, Handoff lets you start an activity on one device and pass it to the other. Now the SMS and MMS messages that previously only appeared on your iPhone appear in Messages on all your devices.