(You're reading all posts by Buster Hein) Buster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.
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iOS 8 is about to be unleash on the world today after debuting earlier this summer at WWDC. Tim Cook is calling it the biggest iOS update ever and for good reason, as the new OS has been packed with hundreds of new tools for developers, as well as new features that make iOS devices, quicker, more productive, and more seamlessly integrated with Mac than ever before.
You won’t see huge visual changes like Apple made with iOS 7 last year, but there’s plenty of features for everyone to be excited about in iOS 8, whether its the new messaging tools, improved camera features, family sharing, Hand-off, or the sleek new Spotlight.
Before you jump headfirst into the biggest iOS release ever, get acquainted with the most important new features in this Cult of Mac guide to iOS 8:
The complete history of iOS...
iOS changed enormously over the last few years. When the first iPhone was released, the most entertaining thing to do was to watch YouTube videos and try to find a few web-based games. This was a time before apps, multi-tasking, or folders. Looking back, it’s amazing to see how iOS has transformed from a simple touch operating system, lacking a lot of key features, to a true computing behemoth with more features and tools than most iPhone owners will probably ever use.
Today, Apple's mobile operating system graduates to iOS 8, but before you dive fingers first into the new features, et’s take a look at how dramatically iOS has changed since its 2007 introduction.
Steve Jobs described the iPhone's software as a variant of OS X at the iPhone's unveiling, but Apple literature referred to the operating system simply as iPhone OS (it was changed to iOS a few years later). Even though iOS 1.0 was innovative in a lot of ways, it was notable just as much for the features it didn’t have, as well as those that it did. When it was released on June 29, 2007, it shipped with only a few apps – Mail, iPod, Calendar, Photos, Clock, Text, Safari, Notes, YouTube, Calculator, Maps, Settings, Camera, Stocks, and Phone. There wasn’t even an App Store or iTunes Store app in iOS. 1.0.
Rather than support third-party applications, Steve Jobs encouraged developers to program web-based apps that could behave like native apps. A couple of months later, Apple changed its mind and created the first iOS SDK that was released in March 2008, paving the way for the 1.2 million apps supported on the iOS today.
The biggest news about iOS 2.0 was the addition of the App Store. Released on July 11th, 2008, the App Store and iOS 2.0’s support for third-party apps gave users access to thousands of apps created by developers. Supported by iTunes and Apple’s carefully crafted ecosystem, the App Store pushed the iPhone years ahead of the competition by providing limitless possibilities of new software. Pretty soon everyone was hearing the catch phrase, “There’s an App for that.”
Push email was also brought to the iPhone via iOS 2.0. To make room for all the new app icons on the Springboard, Apple introduced homescreen pages. Other notable features that appeared includes the ability to open MS Office docs, a Contacts app, ability to take screen captures, save photos in Safari to the Photos app, parental controls, Genius playlist creation, and the addition of emoji.
iOS 3 was one of the biggest iOS releases Apple has pushed out. While it didn’t have any earth-shattering new features, the small improvements numbered in the hundreds. Most of the new features could already be found on Android or Palm Pre and had been highly requested additions.
Released on June 17 2009, iOS 3.0 brought the ability to finally cut, copy and paste. GPS accuracy was also greatly improved, and Apple added a magnetic compass to the iPhone’s Maps app. Video recording had not been supported until the release of iOS 3.0, however the iPhone 3GS was the only iOS device that could take video at the time.
Along with adding support for MMS, the SMS app was renamed to Messages. Find My iPhone was introduced through MobileMe. Spotlight search also came into play in iOS 3.0 as well as the ability to tether an iPhone to a computer.
iOS 3.2 wasn’t a major iOS update, but it did represent the most significant incremental update Apple's ever released.
iOS 3.2 came out on April 3, 2010 in order to add support for the iPad. This update was the first time users were given the ability to change their homescreen background as well as support for using the homescreen in landscape mode rather than the portrait mode. iOS 3.2 expanded the iPad’s dock to hold up to six apps, and it brought new gestures and frameworks for new keyboards.
iOS 4 made the iPhone feel like a truly post-PC device. Released on June 17, 2010, one of the biggest features was the video chatting capabilities of FaceTime. Apple also introduced iBooks, which was the first time they offered native support for eBooks on iOS devices.
A custom dictionary was added along with Multitasking, which gave users the ability to switch between apps without losing their spot in an app. To help users organize the apps. Apple introduced Folders. A small visual appearance change was made by redesigning the dock to be similar to that of the iPad.
Digital zooming was added to the camera. Spotlight now boasted the capability of searching the web or Wikipedia along with the iPhone’s files. GameCenter was also introduced with iOS 4, fostering a community of competitive Angry Bird slinging.
In 2011 Apple pulled out some major weapons to leapfrog iOS over the competition. The addition of over 200 new features made iOS 5 the biggest iOS update Apple had released.
User complaints of the iOS Notification system were finally addressed by adding Notification Center. Help users save on SMS plans, Apple released iMessage t00. The Camera app was updated with ability to edit photos. Borrowing from popular apps like Instapaper, Apple added a “Read Later” feature to Safari in iOS 5. Wireless syncing was also introduced, which finally made iOS devices PC-independent.
Twitter integration in Notification Center made sharing content with friends easier than ever, and Apple introduced a few new native apps – Reminders, a redesigned Calendar app, Newsstand, and Cards.
A few changes were also made to the iPad version of iOS 5.0. Apple added new multi-touch gestures that led to faster app switching and four finger swipe to get back to the homescreen. The Music player on the iPad was revamped with a completely new design. The inclusion of a new split-keyboard for the iPad has also made typing significantly easier when holding an iPad with two hands.
iOS 6.0 marked one of Apple’s biggest iOS blunders by ditching the popular Google Maps service in favor of Apple’s own Maps solution that also provides turn-by-turn navigation and fly-over 3D modeling of certain cities. The Apple Maps launch was disastrous and resulted in the subsequent firing of iOS Chief Scott Forstall.
The App Store was redesigned with an entirely new look and feel that was carried over to the iTunes Store and iBookstore as well. Passbook received a lot of attention for storing users’ coupons, boarding passes, movie tickets, and more. Facebook integration was also included in iOS 6.0 to go along with the Twitter integration iOS 5.0 enjoyed. FaceTime calls could now be made over cellular networks instead of Wi-Fi only in previous versions. The Phone app was also updated with a new keypad and the ability to respond to incoming calls via text-message rather than answering them.
iOS 6 also brought huge improvements for users with vision, hearing, learning and mobility disabilities. Guided Access helped students with disabilities stay focused by controlling the available touch-points within an app. Siri was also updated with more functionality like the ability to answer sports questions, check movie times, and find restaurants.
Apple handed UI design for iOS 7 over to Jony Ive, in what’s resulted in the biggest visual redesign of iOS we’ve seen since the mobile operating system launched in 2007. Thanks to Ive, many of the rich glossy textures and skeuomorphic UI elements were ditched in favor of flatter graphics, colorful gradients, and a lot of sliding transparent panes that are aimed to make iOS feel like it’s a part of your actual iPhone.
To framework the visual redesign, Jony created an icon grid that guides the proportions of icons so they look “harmonious” on the homescreen. Apple also added some incredibly important features. Control Center was one of the most anticipated additions with its ability to quickly toggle Wifi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, and a number of other settings, as well as quickly launch your flashlight, calculator or camera. Multi-tasking also received a facelift by borrowing from HP’s webOS card view when switching apps.
Other notable new additions included FaceTime audio calls over 3G/4G, AirDrop, background App updates, and more.
iOS 8 promises to be Apple’s biggest update to the mobile platform ever with hundreds of new APIs that expand the capabilities of apps by building on core technologies like TouchID to offer users new experiences.
Major addition include the new Health app that can track a user’s vital stats and activity, and Continuity which allows users to seamlessly switch between their Mac and iPhone. Design tweaks have also been made with interactive notifications, home screen shortcuts, and new gestures in Safari and Mail.
The Photos app has been beefed up with more editing tools, and users can share iTunes content now with Family Sharing. There’s also a new QuickType keyboard to go with the support of third-party keyboards, quicker messaging features, and a new iCloud Drive storage system.
Apple’s massive pile of cash is about to get even bigger this weekend as the the iPhone 6 triggers an avalanche of new upgrades after shattering Apple’s record for pre-orders in a 24 hour period.
Now you can watch Apple’s wealth grow dollar by dollar in real-time, thanks to U.K.-based payments company WorlPayZinc, which built an interactive graph to show how much money the world’s top tech companies are making in real-time. Apple is by far the most profitable company, as it rakes in nearly $51,000 every 8 seconds.
Check out the interactive graph below:
The iPhone 6 won’t be available for a few more days in the United States, but in mainland China, getting your fingers on Apple’s biggest screen ever is shockingly easy — and police are starting to help Foxconn crack down on leaks.
A Foxconn employee was arrested by Chinese police, reports the Wall Street Journal, for walking six shells for the iPhone 6 out the front doors of a factory in northern Shanxi province and then selling them on the black market.
Apple finally added NFC to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but if you were hoping that the company’s new NFC chip will allow you to pair speakers or integrate NFC tags into your favorite apps, you’ll have to keep waiting. Apple has put its NFC chip on lockdown, at least for now.
Sources at Apple have confirmed to Cult of Mac that the NFC chip on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will only be used for Apple Pay when it launches this week.
The second part of Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose is scheduled to air tonight on PBS, and as a teaser the show has released a short video of the CEO explaining that Apple’s stance on user privacy and company transparency is basically to never become like Google.
“You are not our product,” says Cook. “I think everyone has to ask, ‘How do companies make their money?’ Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried and you should really understand what’s happening with that data.”
Watch the three-minute clip below:
Apple had to give users a tool to permanently remove U2’s freebie album from their iTunes account, but according to Eddie Cue the album is a colossal hit and has been ‘experienced’ by 33 million iTunes account holders since its release six days ago.
Apple Watch has been in development at Apple for over three years according to Tim Cook, but a New York Times report says the project got a leg up by using the sixth generation iPod Nano as an origin point.
In fact, the Apple Watch still looks fairly similar to the smallest iPod nano Apple ever created, which inspired the company to make Apple Watch after people starting strapping wristbands to the tiny MP3 player to use while jogging.
iOS 8’s HealthKit is already starting to change the way health researchers track patients’ wellness even though it hasn’t been released, as two of the country’s top research hospitals have launched HealthKit trials to track diabetics and patients with cancer and chronic disease.
Doctors at Stanford University Hospital say they’ve been working with Apple to track blood sugar levels for children with diabetes, while Reuters reports that Duke University developed a pilot program that uses HealthKit to track fitness measurements for patients with cancer or heart disease.
Apple might have tried to kill read-it-later services by adding Reading List to Safari, but iOS 8’s new Extensibility feature is bringing new life to bookmarking services like Pocket, which said today that its updated app will make it faster than ever to save everything to Pocket.