Below are a few features from iOS 8 that users and mobile app developers should take into account in order to prepare for the release likely coming in September 2014.
The Similarities Between iOS 8 and iOS 7The visual designers of the iOS 8 system wanted the user to have a similar experience to iOS 7 - the look was so successful that there was no need to overhaul it. Also, since iOS 8 is geared more towards more technical users/developers, creating a new UI was less emphasized for this update. Developers will also be happy to learn that most of the features currently used in iOS 7 system will be returning, in the same place and ready for use from install.
Apple's new Swift programming language has tremendous benefits for developers and ultimately users:
- More concise code/syntax - you can express more with less code, and a more nimble syntax that helps developers spend more time on the concepts and less time doing keyboard gymnastics.
- Type safety, parameterization, and type inference - with a smarter compiler, developers can have more up-front certainty about the types of things in their code, resulting in fewer bugs in front of users. Developers can be very specific, yet get by with less code and smaller declarations using type inference.
- Generics - generics grant a degree of flexibility and power in that you can re-use certain algorithms on different types of data.
- Functions as first class objects - you can reason about behaviors in ways that are typically reserved for “things”, leading to powerful abstractions the functionality of program.
- Option type - Similar to Haskell’s “Maybe” and Scala’s “Option”, this is an abstraction on the idea of having a value or having no value. One great example is when programmers will use some particular constant to represent “no value”, like an integer value of -1, or even ‘null’ itself which typically boils down to the 0 value stored directly in the $0 register in many architectures. To the computer, -1 is still a value, but to the programmer it’s just sort of arbitrarily understood that it represents “no value”. So you end up having to write code defensively to protect against your future self when you start forgetting some of these unstrict rules. Option types make this concept a relatively strict language feature, along with helpful syntax errors and patterns that gracefully handle “no value”.
Personalized Features That Can be Applied to Apps
iOS 8 will take many of the basic features of the smartphone OS system and customize them for different uses by individuals. For instance, the keyboard application Swype allows users different typing patterns for different phone calls. This is a feature that developers should take into account: Users now have the ability to create entirely unique profiles based on the individual to whom they are talking with at the time. This means that apps will now be able to perform in a much more individualized fashion without having to be necessarily programmed by the developer. iOS 8 has taken a great deal of pains to perfect typing on tablets and smartphones. QuickType is a hardwired feature that developers will be able to take advantage of. QuickType allows a user to personalize the way that things are typed inside of different apps. Developers will now have the option of giving users the ability to keep their profiles within applications.
There are many new family options that developers should take note of as well. Users who are tethered to the same credit card will now have much more flexibility within that group to share files and deliver content to one another. This means that family friendly apps can be much more personal than ever before.
Siri, the highly popular yet somehow less than perfect app for iOS 7 is getting a major overhaul in order to improve and perfect some of its most troublesome features. The first enhancement that left everyone speechless at its showing was the Shazam song recognition that Siri now has. This provides endless possibilities for music sharing apps. Siri also recognizes and dictates in 22 languages. Siri can also now fully recognize streaming voice recognition, a feature that many people asked for in the last iteration but was unable to be fully delivered.
iOS 8 is revolutionizing user data and engagement for the health and fitness industry. HealthKit is a one stop shop for all of the health needs of a user. The new Health app gives users an easy-to-read dashboard of all their health and ﬁtness data. Also, Apple has created a new tool for developers which allows health and ﬁtness apps to work together, and work better for users. Third party app developers now have more opportunities than ever to create engaging user experiences in monitoring one's own health and fitness patterns.
Home AutomationiOS 8 also has features that can instantly connect it to the home of the user. Devices such as lights, alarm systems and even thermostats can be directly aligned with the internal functions of the iOS 8 system. Developers will have to pass a certification program in order to create apps for these particular functions within the system. Apple has developed a common network protocol that will allow only the user to open his or her doors and windows. For the safety of all users, developers will undergo a great deal of scrutiny if they try to develop apps for home automation. However, the opportunities here are wide open for developers that are already within the home security field.
Overall, iOS 8 has improved significantly over iOS 7. Stay up to date with the latest on this system; there are sure to be more enhancements before rollout. Will your app make use of any of iOS 8’s features?