iOS 8.1 is now available to the public. Along with bringing Apple Pay into the wild, this major update is packed with new features that bring harmony to your iPhone and Mac workflow. Instant Hotspot and SMS Relay connect your iPhone like never before, and there are a few other sweet new features you probably haven’t heard about yet.
Here are the biggest features in iOS 8.1 you need to know:
Apple just released iOS 8.1, bringing Apple Pay, iCloud Photo Library and other new features to the mobile operating system.
Available now via Software Update, iOS 8.1 will let you quickly set up Apple Pay on compatible devices. Upgraders running OS X Yosemite will also notice additional Continuity features that let iOS 8 work with the latest version of the Mac operating system.
This is the source of the iPad’s zombie problem. Photo: Apple
Yesterday, Apple unveiled the iPad mini 3, a slightly updated version of the second-gen iPad mini with Retina display. But even though it’s two generations old at this point, Apple still sells the original iPad mini for $249. That makes it the cheapest iPad yet, albeit for good reason: It packs the same A5 chip and other silicon guts that the iPad 2 did way back in March 2011.
That might actually seem like a good deal for consumers, but it’s turning out to be a nightmare for developers who will likely have to support the iPad mini until 2017.
iOS 8’s new Family Sharing feature makes it easier than ever for your entire family to share purchases on iTunes, iBooks and the App Store.
Family Sharing is about more than just sneaking copies of apps off your siblings’ accounts, though: It can bring harmony to your entire digital life by sharing photos, creating a family calendar and even keeping track of each others’ locations.
With minimal effort, you can sync up to six accounts. Here’s how to maximize Family Sharing’s potential.
The ability to add widgets to your Notifications dock is easily one of iOS 8’s most useful additions. The new functionality puts some of your favorite apps’ features right at your fingertips.
Only a limited number of apps offer widgets currently, but with developers hard at work you can be sure many more are on the way. In today’s Cult of Mac video, we show you how to install widgets in iOS 8 so you can get started enjoying what’s available now.
In this instructional video, we also give you a look at some of our personal favorites. See how widgets can make managing your to-do list, journaling and checking out your favorite teams’ sports scores easier than ever.
When you need to move files quickly between two Apple devices, AirDrop is an incredibly useful tool. It started out as a Mac-to-Mac thing, and then iPhone-to-iPhone, but with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, AirDrop becomes even more powerful: Now you can share files from Mac to iPhone (or iPad) and vice versa.
A buggy iOS 8 update that killed cellular connections for iPhone 6 users is far more troubling than Apple’s other recent missteps. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
“It just works.”
Those three words are synonymous with Apple. It’s the slogan Apple fanboys use when trying to convince their Android-loving friends that iOS is a better option. And it was used over and over by Steve Jobs as he unveiled new products at Apple keynotes.
That makes it even more embarrassing for the Cupertino company when things don’t “just work.” Especially when it royally screws things up — as it did with the hideously half-baked iOS 8.0.1 update that rolled out to millions of users Wednesday morning.
Minuum is one of the many third-party keyboards for iOS 8. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
With iOS 8, iPhone and iPad owners for the first time ever can replace Apple’s default virtual keyboard with a third-party alternative.
Doing so — with keyboards made by SwiftKey, Swype, Fleksy and others — could vastly improve your touchscreen typing experience. Not only do some of these keyboards make typing easier, but they also boast innovative features, like the ability to type words using simple swipes instead of taps. Many of these keyboards are completely customizable, so you can set their size and color scheme to suit you.
If you haven’t already installed a third-party keyboard, you’re missing out on one of iOS 8’s best features. In this guide, first we’ll tell you about the best keyboards available from the App Store right now. We’ll also run through the features that make them unique, show you how you can customize them and make them work for you, and explain some important concepts, such as “Full Access.”
Continuity and Handoff are great — at least the parts that work. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Continuity and Handoff sound great on paper. They let you transfer certain documents and data between your Mac and your iPhone or iPad, provided both are running the latest Apple system software — iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which is currently in public beta.
When Continuity and Handoff work, it’s a brilliant display of Apple’s vision for truly interconnected devices. When they don’t, it’s frustrating. Some of the features work flawlessly for me, while others don’t function as advertised (at least on my gear — here’s a compatibility chart that will tell you if your gear is new enough to work with Handoff and Continuity). It’s probably because Yosemite’s in beta — it makes sense that not all features work right now. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
Ready to take the plunge? Here’s how to get set started, plus a brief look at the Handoff and Continuity features I was able to get working (and a few more that I was not).
Tons of new features make iOS 8’s Messages app more powerful than ever. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
I’ve pretty much become a full-time texter these days, using Apple’s Messages app on my Mac and iPhone to send iMessages (to friends and contacts who use iOS or OS X) as well as regular text messages (to people outside the Apple ecosystem).
iOS 8 brings great new changes to the mobile version of the Messages app, some of which might not be immediately apparent. Here’s a look at the new features and how best to use them.