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Apple Announces iOS 8, with an Overhauled Keyboard and Self-Destructing Audio Messages

Alyssa Bereznak
·National Correspondent, Technology

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is hoping that 8 will be great for its iPhones and iPads.

On Monday, at its annual Worldwide Developers conference, Apple announced iOS 8, a forthcoming update to its operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The new operating system, which will be available as a free download in the fall, will include additions to your notifications, text messages, photos, and keyboard, many of them similar to features that are popular on rival Android smartphones.

The new operating system will feature interactive notifications that allow you to pull down and reply from right where you are on your screen. The handy new tool works for all notifications, including alerts from your Calendar, Facebook updates, or text messages. Apple calls these Interactive Notifications, a form of which is also available on Google’s Android operating system.


An interactive text message notification.

Additionally, you can get quick access to your most frequently used contacts with a short double-click on your Home button. Previously, this just allowed you to sift through and close apps easily, but now at the top of your screen, you will also be able to quickly message, call, or FaceTime your contacts, all displayed with little photo bubbles for easy recognition.

In an update to messaging, Apple has premiered a new intuitive typing technology that can predict replies to text messages based on the content of the text and the person you’re talking with. An Apple exec said that your phone will learn your speech pattern and the vocabulary you use when talking to a specific friend, as opposed to your boss. That learning technology is all kept local, to protect your privacy. It’s available in at least 14 different languages.

Though learning your different slang habits is unique, the predictive text feature is similar to keyboards on Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. Apple also announced that you would be able install third-party keyboards –– keyboards produced by other developers, like SwiftKey and Swype –– for the first time ever. 

Many Apple fans have long coveted the typing freedom afforded by Android, and it appears they will soon get their wish. 


What’s new with Messages? Well, you now have the option to name your threads, add or remove people from a conversation, and activate a “Do Not Disturb” button for those annoying, endless group texts. (You can also simply eject yourself permanently with a new button.) Whenever you’re in a thread, you’ll be able to access a quick view page to view all the attachments that have been sent. 

You’ll also have the option to send audio messages with a quick tap and swipe. You can choose to keep these messages or allow them to self-destruct after a few minutes, sort of like Snapchat. 

Apple also introduced HealthKit, a new hub for storing and sorting health information from third-party apps like Nike+.

Apple finds itself in an entrenched battle with Google’s Android, which Apple CEO Tim Cook knocked several times over the course of the event, for its lack of security and the fragmentation of its operating system across several different versions. Worldwide, Android made up about 78 percent of devices, while Apple’s iOS pulled in 17.8 percent of market share in the last quarter of 2013. In America, meanwhile, Apple phones made up 41.6 percent of sales during the first part of 2014, against 51.7 percent for Android, according to statistics from Comscore.

iOS 8 will be available as a free download in the fall for the iPhone 4S and newer, the iPad 2 and the fifth-generation iPod Touch and newer devices.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here.