Apple demonstrated iOS 8, its newest version of its operating system for iPhones and iPads, at its worldwide developer’s conference in San Francisco.
The new OS introduced a new Health app to offer “a single comprehensive overview of your fitness,“ as well as updates to features including Mail and Notification Centre.
The Health app integrates with apps such as Nike+, or even apps made by healthcare providers, to let users manage their health through their iOS devices.
“We believe Apple’s health kit will revolutionize how the healthcare industry interacts with people,“ said John Noseworthy, CEO of the prestigious Mayo Clinic hospital.
Craig Federighi, the company’s software chief, demonstrated the new features. Chief among them was a new typing function, called Quicktype, which offers predictive typing suggestions.
Like Android keyboards such as SwiftKey and Swype, Quicktype looks at what a user has previously written and suggests what it thinks the next word in the sentence should be. When replying to a text suggesting dinner or a movie, for instance, it can automatically work out that the “dinner“ and “a movie“ are words that are likely to be written next.
Photo handling has also been updated, with Apple offering users the ability to use the cloud to store every photo and video taken on their iOS devices. With iPhones consistently at the top of charts like Flickr‘s most-used cameras, that change is likely to be well received by snap-happy iPhone users. But the storage is not free – it will cost up to $3.99 a month.
Other features receiving an overhaul include Notification Centre, which now allows users to interact with notifications inline, replying to text messages, or liking Facebook updates without opening the app itself. Additionally, the multitasking view of iOS now includes recently contacted people and recently used apps.
Mail, the default iOS email app, also received a small haul of updates, allowing users to reply to and delete messages with just a single swipe. “I think we’re all going to love doing Mail this way,“ Federighi said as he demonstrated the email app. And Messages, “the most-used app on iPhones,” according to Federighi, now offers the ability to mute multi-user chats, send video or audio messages with just a click and a swipe, and photos in the same manner.
Although Apple didn’t emphasize that the audio and video messages borrow a feature from the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat: they will automatically delete after a short time, apparently to save space on the phone.
Federighi also demonstrated a new Family Sharing service, letting whole families share their photos, calendars, and locations with each other. The service also allows children to use the App store themselves through their parents’ credit cards by sending requests to the adults’ iPhones when a purchase is attempted.
The total number of iPad users in the US continues to increase. Still, the expanding tablet market means that Apple is actually losing share of overall users as Samsung and others increase sales. Emarketer expects US tablet users is to fall to 51.8% in 2014, down from 54.5% last year.
Apple is expected to claim 12.3 million iPad users in the UK in 2014, representing roughly 50% of the UK tablet users, down from 59% in 2013.
Apple’s share of the US smartphone users will rise to 40.5%, up from 40% in 2013 and 36.5% in 2012, according to data from eMarketer. By comparison, Google’s Android will claim 50% of smartphone users in 2014, up 49.5% in 2013.
In the UK, Apple’s numbers are slightly lower. Apple is expected to claim 30.5% of smartphone users this year, up from 29% in 2013, while Android smartphone users will account for 53% of the market in 2014 compared to 54.5% in 2013, according to eMarketer.