Your iPhone (and iPad) just got a lot of new features

iOS (pronounced eye-owe-ess) is the name of the operating system that runs on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. And today iOS 8 became available as a free download for iPhone 4s and later, and iPad 2 and later. 

How to get it

Open your device and select the "Settings" app. Then select "General" then "Software Update" and follow the prompts.

It's about 1.1 gig so you'll need a little bit of space on your device, and will want to be on a wifi network. 

Here's what's new


Photos has had a makeover

The photos app has now does a lot more. You can search old photos that are in iCloud, not just the ones on your device. 

Editing photos has gotten more powerful too. Now you have the ability to adjust the light settings to a greater extent. 

And TIME LAPSE will be a popular new feature too. 

Message your voice

The Messages app now adds a tap and talk feature. So if you only have one hand free, and want to respond to a text, (or maybe you're just like my Dad and hate typing on an iPhone keyboard) you just can touch and hold with your thumb to record your message, then swipe up to send it. To listen to a message, you just lift your phone to your ear, or press play. 

Sending video from within the Messages app has gotten quicker too. 

Group messages has also been overhauled. You can opt out of group messages now, or put them on Do Not Disturb, avoiding those annoying interruptions when you unwillingly get included in a multiperson chat via iMessage. 

And there's more, like sharing your location, sending multiple images at once, or the ability to browse all pictures from a specific conversation. 

Keyboard changes

The standard keyboard now guesses words you might type, with the aim of making being quicker. But the best feature of the keyboard is that you can now use third party keyboards, a feature Android users have cherished for years. 

This means other developers are able to build keyboards for you to install on your iPhone. Expect popular additions from Swype (a keyboard that allows you to type without lifting your fingers), 1Password (a keyboard that remembers your passwords) among others. 

Family Sharing

This one is a no-brainer, and should have happened years ago. 

Basically each member of your house can now share purchased iTunes content but use separate iTunes accounts. 

This means your daughter can access the apps and movies you buy, without accessing your messages and notes. 

And if you control the credit card and a child of yours goes to make a purchase, you get a notification that asks you to approve the transaction before it goes through. 

iCloud Drive

Apple actually tried to buy Dropbox many years ago, and didn't succeed. They finally have a competing product with iCloud Drive. 

If you're familiar with Google Drive, Microsoft's Skydrive, Dropbox, Box or any other cloud based file management system, you'll understand the concept of iCloud Drive. Essentially it allows you to store any type of file you like in the "cloud" so you can access it from a Mac, Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, whatever, whenever. 

The term cloud and iCloud can become a bit confusing. Just about any online service gets called "cloud" these days.

And you may be thinking "didn't Apple already have iCloud?"

Yes, but previously specific apps opened their own files, which synced with other devices that had the same app. 

But now you can store any type of file, not just ones produced by Apple's apps, and you can browse files using a file directory rather than being forced to open the application specific to that file. Moreover, you can access those files from any computer with an internet connection. 


Many people track their fitness with their iPhones now, with all manner of apps existing from ones that measure your weight to apps that track you as you run from imaginary zombies. 

Apple now allows developers to talk to a central app that collates all your data and makes it easier than ever to peruse (with your permission of course).

If you've been meaning to get fit, you have one less excuse. 


If you own an iPhone AND an iPad, or Mac, you'll appreciate the new ability the devices will have to all do the same task seamlessly. Your Mac and iPad will be able to take and make phone calls through your phone, you can send text messages to any type of phone, even one of those green bubble people, from your iPad or Mac.

And if you're working on an email or document on your phone, you can stop then start where you left off on your Mac or iPad. 

To get all the features on your Mac you'll need to wait until the new version of OSX is out, called Yosemite; probably a month or so away. 

Plus there's... 

Apps will have ability to put widgets in the notification menu. 

App Extensions is Apple's effort to allow apps to talk to each other more (for example, you'll might be able to share a pic to Instagram from the photos app). 

Notifications will be actionable and interactive. eg get a message notification and hit reply without opening the app. 

Traffic and Flyover feature added to maps for parts of Australia. 

More things you can ask Siri to do or find. 

Spotlight search (pulling the homescreen down to search) now searches the wikipedia and more too. 

Battery usage indicator - check which apps are draining your juice. (hint on suspected worst offender: starts with F, ends with acebook)

Lock screen app suggestions. (you might be near a particular town starting with G and see an app suggestion to download an app called Everything Geraldton).

Touch ID for apps (your fingerprint reader will soon be used for other apps to approve or unlock things).

Panoramic photos on iPad.

DuckDuckGo support in safari.

Travel Time notifications.

Auto night mode in iBooks.

Multi Device support for MFi hearing aids.

Tips app.

Sneak screen.

Rich text editing in notes app.

WiFi calling (unsure if available in Oz just yet).

Instant burst mode.

Braille Keyboard.

In case of emergency card.

Shazam integration with Siri.

Camera timer.

Always listening mode with Siri (hey, Siri).

Lunar calendar support.