iOS 8 brings some new features and better integration of current features. iOS 8 will be available as a free download this Fall.

Apple’s live WWDC 2014 announcement has now come and gone for both consumers and developers. Key to the announcement was iOS 8, and what users can expect as they anxiously await Apple’s iPhone 6 announcement and release in September. We take a look back at today’s announcement and detail a few of the changes you can expect in iOS when downloading iOS 8 this Fall.

Interactive Notifications

Apple’s Notification Center is nothing new to iOS users, but Apple decided to change things up a bit this year. Instead of having notifications that can be accessed by swiping from the top downward, Apple decided to make notifications more active within the user experience. Now, in iOS 8, you don’t even need to check your Notification Center in order to get access to notifications. While you’re reading that Sports Illustrated article or that favorite Kindle Book you like, you’ll receive notifications right at the top of your screen that allow you to respond to an iMessage text. If you have a calendar appointment, the appointment will appear right at the top of your screen. Have a Facebook status update from a friend, or a response to your Facebook status? You can now both comment and “like” a status from the top of your screen without needing to visit the Facebook app to do so.

Not only will notifications appear at the top of the screen (no matter what app you’re in), they will also work better with your lock screen. Now, instead of having to click on the app after unlocking the lock screen to access the app, you’ll be able to access the notification on your lock screen. Now, you can swipe to access it right from the lock screen – and it’ll take you right into the app.

Quick Access

Remember the new multitasking function announced for iOS 7? Well now, you can also access key people that you’ve talked with in iMessage, recipients you’ve emailed recently, or even had a FaceTime chat or two with. Once you access a person you want to communicate with, you can choose to 1) call, 2) text, or 3) FaceTime audio or FaceTime video chat with that person.

Quick Tabs for iPad

Apple introduced quick tabs into iOS 7 for the iPhone, allowing users to haven’t only unlimited tabs, but also have quick access and a bird’s eye view to those tabs at all times with multitasking. Now, Apple’s bringing Quick Tabs to the iPad experience.

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Email Multitasking

As Craig Federighi notes, there are many iOS users who, while emailing, need to read a prior email or look for something in an email other than the one they’re typing. To solve this frustration, you can now swipe down from the email to pull the email you’re working on down to the bottom of the screen. Then, you can look for that email you needed to find. Once you get the information you need, you can then pull the current email back up to the middle of the screen and continue typing away.

Spotlight Improvements

Spotlight has been a resourceful way for iOS users to find documents and apps they’re looking for, but Spotlight’s getting smarter in iOS 8. Now, you can search for games at the App Store simply by typing a letter (if you type “M,” you’ll get “Minecraft” as one of the searches, or your friend whose last name is “McCauley” or “Miller,” for example), or for friends. When typing in a search, you can now search for text messages from friends or relatives without scrolling through all of iMessage to find the messages you want. Spotlight’s also smart enough to suggest movie titles, so as to help you find something on the iTunes Store without having to go into iTunes and search endlessly for it. These changes make it easier to navigate iOS and become more productive in time management.

QuickType

QuickType is, to be brief, auto correction. Apple’s always had auto correction, but it hasn’t always been as smart as iOS users would like it to be. That all changes with iOS 8, as even auto correction’s gotten smarter. Now, iOS is more predictive of what you’ll say before you say with the new and improved auto correction. Now, if you get an iMessage that asks you, “Do you want to go for dinner or a movie?,” you’ll get to choose “not sure” as one of the auto correction responses when you start typing. If a meeting is cancelled, and you’re responding to a question about whether or not the meeting’s still happening, QuickType will provide “cancelled” and “rescheduled” options so that you need only touch the correct word to see it appear in your response. With an improved auto correction, typing will become more efficient with fewer mistakes and a lot less frustration.

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QuickType also “studies” and “learns” the texting habits of the individual. If you’re a person that uses a lot of “hip language” (what’s up?, for example), auto correct will start to suggest words that suit the conversation. Whether formal or informal, no matter your text speech, QuickType knows how to complete your sentences. If iOS were a person instead of an operating system, it’d be the perfect companion.

iMessage

Apple’s improving its group messaging capabilities in iOS 8, with name threads that allow you to know what person you’re talking to in which thread. Name threads will also help you find a thread with the person you want to talk to without searching endlessly for the one you want. You no longer need to remember a date or month in which you had a conversation.

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You can also add and remove threads, enact a “Do Not Disturb” notice on any thread that interrupts an activity or business meeting, and leave any thread when you get ready.

iMessage will now allow you to share your location with any friend you have, and you can customize how you choose to share your location – whether for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely (meaning a long time).

Tap To Talk

Siri has been known for sending text messages in iOS 7, but iOS 8 will expand dictation capabilities beyond their current state. Now, you can simply tap the dictation symbol (in the typing box within iMessage) and start talking. Once you do, however, you can send an audio statement or reply to the person you’re talking with – without hoping that your text message is dictated properly. In other words, audio messages are now one new communication feature in iOS 8 that’ll save you time on the road. Instead of typing, you can simply talk, then send the audio file to the person in question.

Tap to Talk works for voice dictation and text messages, but you can also use it to send selfies and video as well. Audio files and video will be a part of iOS 8’s interactive notifications, so you’ll be able to view those at the top of your iPhone display as well.

Health and HealthKit

Health and Healthkit allow you to view your own health information, everything from blood pressure to blood sugar levels, weight, calories burned, sleep activity, and so on. Healthkit will provide a way for you to share your medical information with doctors and hospitals so that, in case of an emergency, doctors can contact you immediately. Apple’s currently in partnership with the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Yale New Haven Health, Mount Sinai, Penn Medicine, UCLA Health, and sixteen other medical institutions to see to it that these new health apps serve to aid those who have ongoing medical conditions.

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Family Sharing

Now, you and your family can share both App Store purchases and photos between multiple devices. In other words, you no longer have to send photos to those in your household, or worry about app purchases made by your teenage children. Before your child can purchase an app with your credit card, Apple sends a permission request to you (parents) to approve the purchase before it goes through.

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Siri

Siri received the Shazam song recognition that we knew she’d get in iOS 8. Shazam recognition allows you to inquire about the name of a song that you can’t remember or don’t know when a new song plays that you like. You can now use Siri to purchase iTunes content, and Siri’s language capabilities have improved to include 22 new dictation languages.

There are a few other changes made in iOS 8, but these involve iCloud Drive, Apple’s new answer to Google’s Google Drive cloud storage. Still, these changes will make iOS 8 even better than iOS 7.

Are you excited about the new changes and iOS 8? Which new feature(s) do you like most? Let us know in the comments.

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