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The Best New iOS 8 Features that Apple Didn’t Tell You About

This article was originally published in June after the introduction of iOS 8. Now that iOS 8 is available to download, we're republishing it for your information.

This week, Apple showed off its new mobile operating system, iOS 8, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. But even after its sprawling presentation of iOS 8’s new capabilities, there’s still more to discover.

Though iOS 8 won’t be available to the public until this fall, we got our hands on a beta version and snooped around. Below, some of the best new features that we haven’t heard about yet.

Battery usage by app


Everyone has her own set of scrappy tricks to improve her iPhone’s battery life, but with iOS 8, it’s less of a guessing game. A nifty little list in your Settings app will show you the exact battery percentage each app you’re using has sucked up that day.

You can zoom out with the week view to take note of your most draining activity and adjust your habits accordingly. This is also official confirmation that my TwoDots addiction is affecting my work life.

Separate focus and exposure for your camera


In previous iterations of iOS, focus and exposure were bound in a loveless marriage. In order to adjust the exposure, you’d have to adjust the focus, and sometimes the two just didn’t want to cooperate. In iOS 8, you can set the focus and then adjust the exposure by moving a little sun icon up and down.

A timer for your camera


Considering that the iPhone is a lot of people’s most-used camera, it’s surprising that Apple never included a timer (and perhaps the reason selfies have become so popular). With this iOS overhaul, however, you have the option to set a timer for photos to be taken after three or 10 seconds. The phone flashes for each second, and when the timer goes off, it’ll take a burst of photos, so you’ll have lots of takes to pick from if you’re attempting a group picture.


Travel time included in calendar event alerts



Calendar alerts are helpful, but if you’ve truly forgotten about something on your schedule, a reminder a mere 15 minutes from the event probably won’t be enough to get you there on time. When entering an event on your calendar, you can add the exact address where it will take place. Calendar will then determine how long it’ll take you to get there from your current location and alert you when it’s time to leave. 

Related emails in the Mail app 


Sometimes you might get an email from someone and totally blank on what he’s emailing you about. You can now look up “related emails” based on the content and the contact you’re communicating with. This is especially helpful if you often find yourself in contact with new people for work.

iOS 8 will also recognize when you’re communicating with someone new and ask you whether you want to add her to your contacts.

Location-based lock-screen notifications


If you have an app that’s made by a specific business, it’ll supposedly pop up on your lock screen when you walk by one of its locations. When you unlock your phone, it’ll bring you straight to the app, so you can easily use it to pay for a latte at Starbucks or, in my case, a kale smoothie at Organic Avenue. Sorry, not sorry.

A more flexible Safari


You can now power your Safari with DuckDuckGo, a search tool that’s focused on protecting your privacy. You also still have the option to power it via Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

A smarter App Store


Your App Store now offers personalized suggestions based on what songs you ask Siri to identify and what you’ve listened to on iTunes radio. That way, you’re reminded of the songs you were intrigued by when you go to purchase other music.

Private browsing by tab in Safari


You might already know that you can browse the Internet privately on your iPhone. But in order to use that feature, you’d need to apply it to everything you opened in that session. Now you can apply the no-tracking feature by Web tab, so the other locations you visited will still be stored in your history. 

Nicer Notes


You can now add photos and rich text to Notes! It’s no Evernote, but oh, well.

Panoramic photos for iPad
I haven’t had a chance to try iOS 8 out with my iPad yet, but Business Insider says that, with the update, it can now take panoramic pictures. You might look ridiculous, but you can do it.

So what do you think? Excited yet?

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here