iOS 8 Release Date: Tomorrow Apple Adds More iCloud Functionality, Touch ID Developer Support To iPhones, iPads

By Connor Sears , Updated Sep 16, 2014 10:42 AM EDT
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Starting tomorrow, iOS 8 will be available for free download on iPhones, iPads and the fifth generation iPod Touch.

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Apple is calling iOS 8 the "biggest iOS release ever," and it's adding several features both for the end user and on the developer side of things. Both Touch ID and iCloud are getting significant updates, but most of the iPhone's default apps are getting little bonuses as well.

All of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices will come loaded with this newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, and it's supported by all devices that could run iOS 7 with the one exception of the original iPhone 4. Now that the full release is only a day away, here's what we know about the new software update.

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Though iCloud hasn't been enjoying the best press as of late, the updates to the cloud service are some of the biggest in iOS 8. The new iCloud Drive offers the same kind of service as Google Drive, allowing you to share your documents and files among your Apple devices. iCloud Drive storage starts at 5 GB for free, but it can be upgraded to 20 GB for just $0.99 a month. You can even upgrade to a full TB of storage for $20 a month. The iCloud upgrade also adds family sharing, allowing up to six family members to contribute to shared photo albums and calendars.

The software update also gives more freedom to developers. Third-party developers can now use Touch ID technology in their apps, allowing users to sign in to their apps without using a password. Developers also now have more access to camera functions as well as information from the new Health app.

The Photos app is adding a search function that lets users find old photos quickly. Users can search by the date a photo taken, album titles or tagged locations. The app is also getting a whole suite of editing tools, letting iOS users rotate, crop and adjust the light levels of their photos from within the app itself. iOS 8 also adds time lapse capabilities to these devices' cameras.

Messaging expands by allowing users to send various forms of media as messages; it's no longer limited to pictures. Audio clips, videos and even map locations can now be sent over the Messages app in iOS 8. The keyboards themselves of iOS devices are getting upgraded with predictive text. Over time, iOS will begin to learn your writing style and will start to hand you suggestions as you type for words you're likely to say next. Third-party keyboards will also be supported on iOS 8, meaning that former Android users who had become familiar with the swipe to type mechanic can now load that onto an iPhone.

Some new design choices include interactive notifications that will allow default apps and some third-party apps to send you notifications with functions attached. This way, you can accept a friend request or delete and email without leaving your current app. All of it can be done from within the notification. Also new is a design choice in the Mail app that allows users to swipe an email right to mark it as unread or swipe left to delete. It's just like Tinder for email.

iOS 8 will also increase the connectivity users with multiple Apple devices can experience between their iOS devices and computers running OS X Yosemite. There have been reports that some of these functions won't be available at launch and will instead be implemented a month or so after release. Considering we don't even know at this point when Yosemite will come out of beta, we'll probably have to wait for these functions regardless.

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