iOS 8: What Can We Expect?
With the recent release of iOS 7.1.1 we can finally and inevitably admit the fact that Apple's seventh iteration of its mobile platform is no longer in the center of attention. All of the bug and crash fixes, UX tweaks, and other improvements of iOS 7 are now overshadowed by rumors surrounding the upcoming iOS 8, which is expected to be rolled out this fall, and possibly presented earlier at WWDC 2014.
It's not that iOS 8 will receive as much resonance and debate as iOS 7 did. Most probably it will be the same iOS 7 with a couple of apps and tweaks added, unless Apple has some surprises up their sleeves. Meanwhile possible changes, improvements, and new features have been gathering up in rumors for some time around, coming from such Apple-related sources, the biggest being 9to5Mac. Here we would like to make a rumor roundup.
A rumor at its most unofficial, Healthbook even has a suggested icon (similar to that of Passbook), and furthermore, is said to be a perfect link between the smartphone and the possible iWatch. As almost all with Apple, it's supposed to be a near-perfect personal health assistant: weight, nutrition, calories, heart rate, hydration, bloodwork, blood sugar, fitness tracking, and much more.
Along with the M7 motion coprocessor incorporated in the latest Apple devices, it makes sense as the logical next step. If we ever have to see the iWatch this year, we'll see it and iOS 8 at the same time. The industry of health & fitness apps is blooming, and their owners have to keep an eye on Healthbook, whether it becomes a worthy default rival. On the other hand, it may bring valuable integration with a new generation of health apps.
Apple's native Maps, even though some time has passed, still are perceived as a failure. Since then Apple has been talking about making their Maps better and better all the time. In 2013 Apple has acquired several companies concerning mapping (e.g. BroadMap, Embark, HopStop), and iOS 8 might present us the feature of public transit directions / route options, which was one of the reasons people shifted back to Google Maps after Apple's ones became the default.
Another rumor is that the feature of indoor mapping will be also included. Let's not forget about CarPlay which will definitely require Apple Maps at their best (and which also may support WiFi instead of using the cable). It's also quite possible that updates will concern showing info about locations and venues, such as restaurants, bars, etc. This may open the way for more detailed guides based on Apple Maps, indoor navigation for shopping malls and large hospitals. As for the latter, it can be useful for in-house staff. If integrated with Healthbook, detailed navigation can be used by everyone. There can be a pool of various ideas actually.
This one is rumored to stop its existence as a standalone app, with all the needed features being actually within games. This may require some additional changes and tweaks in existing games.
iTunes Radio has received high adoption since its September release, and its growth rate surpassed even Spotify's. Now it is expected to become a separate default app, a rival to other streaming services. There is also a rumor about cooperation between Apple and Shazam that may introduce the feature of song recognition in iOS 8. This in turn can lead to the iTunes store where the song can be purchased.
The feature introduced in the iPhone 5S is expected to be used for mobile payments. Once you use Touch ID, you quickly get used to it and unlock your phone, as well as approve App Store downloads without noticing. Incorporating it into mobile payments is an even more interesting idea, especially providing this opportunity to third-party apps. If so, and if purchases will concern non-digital goods as well, Apple simply has to provide its best tool for online shopping - the iPad - with a fingerprint scanner. This is what we actually expect from the next generation of iPads.
There's also a rather questionable 'screenshot' circulating around the Web with icons of such apps as Healthbook and Tips. Siri is supposed to get an improvement, although it's unclear of which nature it will be. Possibly it will allow specific interactions between Siri and apps, boosting convenience and functionality.
Here we can see that the expected changes in hardware may be even more crucial for custom development, than the OS itself. For example, the rumored bigger screen of the iPhone, and the design/redesign issue to arise as a result. As for the commonplace 'wants' of iOS users, they still remain unsolved: such as changing and hiding default apps, extended customization, option of a guest account (for example, for children). If your iOS app concerns any of these issues, keep an eye on rumors until things get definite. But we know you already do, don't you?
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