On Wednesday, Apple has released iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system, for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch for the sweet price of $0.
Get to know iOS 8
The update includes a long list of new features, including interactive notifications that allow you to reply to messages from your home screen, a new intuitive typing technology, self-destructing text and audio messages, and SMS Continuity which features like answering phone calls on your Mac, continuing text conversations and opening Web pages and documents through Handoff.
The update also will allow you to remove yourself from annoying group text messages, create family accounts to share and regulate iTunes purchases within your family, and monitor your physical activities via the new Health app.
iOS 8 also brings improved notifications, a Spotlight search function that lets you search inside apps, and the ability to install third-party keyboards such as Swype, among other features. And once the next version of OS X is released, likely next month, iOS 8 will allow you to sync phone calls, files, and SMS messages between iOS 8 devices and Macs.
One of the most anticipated features rolling out in iOS 8 was actually introduced with the iPhone 5s, but has only now been opened to developers. With the latest iOS, Apple is granting access to Touch ID, meaning third-party apps like 1Password can finally take advantage of the fingerprint reading hardware.
Also a first is the ability to swap out keyboards for third-party solutions. Previously, Apple restricted users to the main iOS soft keyboard due to security concerns, but with iOS 8, users are able to download and try out custom solutions like Fleksy and SwiftKey.
On the app side, Apple's first-party titles get new features like quick image, audio and video sharing in Messages and deep email management in Mail.
Apple also added a slew of new Camera features to keep the world's most popular shooter up-to-date, including time lapse functionality, shutter timers and advanced exposure controls.
iOS-only features like Siri have also been drastically improved, with the virtual assistant now supporting "Hey Siri" hands free operation when plugged in to a power source. Voice responses have also been tweaked to sound more natural, while the backend has been enhanced with HomeKit integration for controlling smart home products.
In addition to Siri, users can now customize Notification Center with widgets created by third-party app developers. Powered by a corresponding app, widgets allow for bite-sized bits of information to be display in Notification Center, including the lock screen, meaning anything from sports scores to surf reports are only a thumb swipe away.
All the devices that’ll work with iOS 8.
The iPhone 6 will ship with iOS 8 installed. So if you’ve already preordered a sparkly new sidekick, you won’t have to worry about this.
How to install iOS 8
There are 2 methods for downloading and installing Apple iOS 8. You can update your iOS device over the air via the device's Settings, or you can connect it to your computer and use iTunes.
Method 1: Over-the-air update
Because iOS updates take up a bit of room on your phone, so make sure you clear out whatever you can before you download anything.
Here's how: Go to Settings > General > Usage, and then you'll see exactly how you're using your phone's storage. Now you can go in and delete old messages, photos, songs, podcasts and books.
Now, you can upgrade to iOS 8 right from your device itself. No need for a computer or iTunes, you need Wi-Fi network.
Here's how: Go to Settings > General > Software Update and click the Download and Install button for iOS 8.
After tapping the Download and Install button, you'll need to tap to agree to Apple's terms and conditions and then wait as your phone downloads the file.
After the update installs and your device restarts, you can slide to set up iOS 8.
Method 2: Via iTunes
Via iTunes might be faster to update. The first order of business is to update iTunes to version 11.4. Open iTunes and then click iTunes > Check for Updates to install the latest version.
Once iTunes is up-to-date, connect your iOS device. Click on your device in the upper-right corner of iTunes and then click the Update button.
A pop-up window will appear, alerting you that a new iOS version is available for your device. Click the Download and Update button. (Or, if you are going to need your phone in the near future, opt for the Download Only button to download it now and install later).
If you chose to download and install the update, you can monitor its progress in the status window at the top of iTunes. Keep your device connected to your computer until your device restarts.
After restarting, you can eject your device from iTunes and disconnect it from your computer. On your device, slide to enter iOS 8's setup process.