A mere 10 hours ago, iOS 8 was released to the masses and, if download speeds are any indication, the new operating system from Apple is flooding (trickling?) onto iDevices the world over.
iOS 8 is a massive update. There are so many new features that improve the user experience. Actionable notifications, comprehensive cloud photo syncing, and new messaging features are fantastic. Continuity and Handoff will make the operating system even more robust in the upcoming month.
But the real game changer is Extensibility; allowing apps to communicate with each other and the operating system in a seamless and powerful way. These new extensions manifest themselves in several different ways and are represented by a few new symbols you’ll want to be familiar with.
The first lives in your new Photos App. Once you’ve selected an image, tap the edit button and you will be given access to a new symbol.
This symbol will let you access photo and video apps on your phone without exiting the image. You can apply filters or other edits from other apps to the selected image within the Photos App. Photo filters aren’t the end of it, either. The makers of ScannerPro already have an extension in the Photos App that allows you to turn a photo into a pdf within their app.
The second symbol can be found in numerous apps (Photos, Safari, Contacts, etc.) and can be described as the “Actions” button.
These actions range from messaging or emailing an image to posting a recipe to Facebook. But on the second row you will find familiar actions like copy, save image, etc. With iOS 8, however, third party apps can add actions to the Actions button. These might include inputting saved passwords from 1Password, translating a webpage with Bing Translate, or copying passages to Evernote. You must have the app installed in order to use the action within other apps, so be on the lookout for apps with interesting extension capabilities.
The third symbol pertains to discovering the apps that are capable of living inside the two symbols above.
The “More” button lives at the end of every list of Actions. When you tap this, a list of compatible apps will be presented. From there you can choose to include them in your list of actions and where they fall within that list.
Our last symbol is really more of a button but functional all the same.
The edit button on the bottom of the Notification Center (swipe down from the top of your screen to access) takes you to a list of apps that contain widgets (small/limited function fingers of larger apps). You can choose which widgets to view in Notification Center and where to place them. Already, many developers have built widgets. Some alert you to flight status changes, others help manage to do lists. There are more robust stock and weather widgets, widgets to view dinner reservations and help you keep track of Amazon sales or EBay auctions (presumably).
iOS 8 feels like an entirely new operating system. It will take time to become comfortable with the many feature enhancements. So feel free to press on by pressing on one of the symbols above when you come across it. They are the key to unlocking the true power of your iDevice.